The Breakroom

Streaming Into the Void

August 15, 2018

By Webmaster

Twitter's classic

Starting tomorrow, Twitter will begin to turn off, or deprecate, two important API’s that third party apps use to interact with their service. Twitter will start slowly phasing these features out on Thursday, August 16th, and completely shut them off by August 23rd. We’ve spoken about these changes at great length in the past but wanted to remind Twitterrific users about what is happening.

To summarize, here’s what Twitter’s changes mean for you:

  • Live streaming of tweets is ending
  • You will no longer receive native push notifications
  • Twitterrific’s Today view will no longer update

What Can I Do?

Although Twitterrific will no longer stream tweets in real time, we’ve implemented automatic refresh for both the iOS and macOS apps. This means that if you had previously enabled live streaming in Twitterrific, the app will now instead check for new tweets every two minutes. Unfortunately, this means that tweets and DM’s will be slightly delayed, but hopefully you won’t notice too much of a difference.

Since Twitterrific will no longer connect to Twitter’s push notification stream, we can no longer inform you immediately when someone likes, RT’s, mentions, or sends you a direct message. The app still badges the appropriate icon at the top of the timeline with an unread dot after loading the latest tweets, but if your iOS device is asleep, you won’t get a notification on the home screen.

To work around this problem we suggest you download the official Twitter client for iOS, add any and all Twitter accounts you want to receive push notifications for and enable them. Once you turn them on, be sure to head back to Twitter’s in-app preferences and then customize the types of notifications you want to receive.

The flow of how to activate push notifications within the official app. Open Settings and Privacy - Notifications - Push Notifications - Turn on Notifications

NOTE: By default, Twitter enables their “Quality Filter” so you’ll need to turn this off if you want to receive notifications for ALL tweets, not just those Twitter deems important. Once this is done, you’ll be notified of events like you’re used to with Twitterrific (except for Quoted tweets). You can then launch Twitterrific to respond to these notifications as needed.

Since the information displayed by Twitterrific’s Today view was collected using Twitter’s push notification stream, this feature will no longer function. We’d like to work around this limitation and once again provide a view where you can view your most recent activity, but additional future API restrictions may make this impossible. We’ll all have to wait and see.

Moving Forward

If you have additional questions about how Twitter’s API changes affect you as a Twitterrific user, be sure to visit our Knowledge Base to learn more. We’ll be responding to problems and questions on Twitter all week so be sure to follow @Twitterrific for the latest news and information. You can also follow #BreakingMyTwitter on Twitter to see what others are saying.

Finally, we’re committed to continued development of Twitterrific as long as it makes financial sense and is allowed by Twitter. Despite these changes, we hope you’ll continue to use and support us into the future. We’re not going anywhere.

Talking Accessibility & Twitter’s Upcoming API Changes

August 8, 2018

By Ged Maheux

The Blind Side podcast with Jonathan Mosen on iTunesPodcaster and accessibility maven, Jonathan Mosen, recently had me on his podcast to discuss Twitter’s upcoming imposed changes to their live streaming and push notification APIs.

On episode 98 of The Blind Side we talk about what these changes mean for Twitterrific users and how they affect accessibility within the app. Even if you’re sighted, I encourage you to check out this interview which gets a bit more in-depth about why we think Twitter is revoking these features, how we’re dealing with the reduced functionality and what this means for the future of third party Twitter apps.

I want to thank Jonathan for inviting me on and helping us get the word out about these unfortunate policy changes that will hit Twitterrific users on August 16th, 2018. Check out The Blind Side with Jonathan Mosen on iTunes or via his website.

Listening to Poo, Your Emoji and You

July 13, 2018

By Ged Maheux

A 1950's PSA style woman gazes up from behind a book to floating emoji above her head including the smiling poo

Let’s face it, it’s a struggle to get attention in 2018. Users wage a constant battle for eyeballs in the ever-widening war of compelling content versus fake news and funny memes. One of the ways people stand out from the pack is to employ Emoji and special characters in their names. Scroll through your Twitter timeline and you will undoubtedly spot more than a few people relying on this technique: it acts as a visual cue to pay special attention and adds an extra dimension of personality to a profile.

But these benefits have a significant downside.

The problem with using these special characters centers around how they are presented to folks with vision difficulties. If you’re relying on a screen reader, like Apple’s VoiceOver technology, Emoji can make browsing Twitter a nightmare. This is because VoiceOver reads the name of the character: you may see a simple 😊 Emoji, but a blind person hears “Smiling face with smiling eyes”.

In a tweet, it’s helpful to hear something like “Awesome job! Smiling face with smiling eyes Emoji”. But when this same character is used in a screen name, you’ll hear “John Doe Smiling face with smiling eyes” at the beginning of each tweet. This adds friction and dramatically slows down the process of “reading” your timeline because this longer phrase is read every time.

There are more characters within Unicode than just Emoji, and some of the codes let you change the way a name appears visually on your screen. You can pick a different font like Copperplate Gothic or add funky symbols – thanks to standard support across a wide variety of platforms, your unique creation will look great everywhere.

But what happens if you’re not looking at it and relying on a screen reader? Compare what you see for this tweet to what the VoiceOver user hears in the audio clip below:

Tweet from Janie Plum with her name defined in unicode characters

The user name takes over half of the total reading time and is difficult to understand because it must be spelled out as J-A-N-I-Pulsating heart-P-L-Small Latin Letter Capital U. You’ll also note that a few letters are missing as VoiceOver attempts to speed things up. Looks can be deceiving.

Now imagine hearing this over and over as you scroll through your timeline – a tweetstorm by Janie will be excrutiating! And then her friends pick up on the trend and add to your frustration!

So what’s the solution?

The Iconfactory recently introduced a new feature in Twitterrific that allows users to turn off Emoji in names. When activated, these problematic characters are no longer displayed or used by VoiceOver, resulting in a smoother reading experience. We’re also looking at ways to remove other characters that need to be spelled out. While this all helps our customers, it remains a problem on the web and in other apps.

If you want to make your tweets accessible to the widest possible audience, consider removing Emoji from your online user names. This goes doubly for the stylized Unicode characters that some people have fallen in love with. Sure, they may elevate your online profile to the social media equivalent of the Matrix code, but for folks with disabilities, it’s just making their lives more difficult.

Now you know, and as they say, that’s half the battle. The accessibility community thanks you!

Ten Years on the Aisles of the App Store

July 10, 2018

By Craig Hockenberry

Time flies when you’re having fun. Today marks the tenth anniversary of the App Store.

Of course there are a lot of people celebrating this event besides the factory workers. I was honored to be a part of the Appstories podcast where James Thomson and I chat with John Voorhees and Federico Vittici about those early days of selling iPhone apps.

I’m also enjoying the retrospectives about how apps have changed over the past decade. Michael Steeber’s visual look at the evolution of app interfaces and icons is fascinating. Alex Guyot takes this theme and adds some context from the developer’s perspective.

Another, but less obvious, benefit of the App Store is how it’s brought accessible software to folks in need. My colleague Sean Heber talked to Steven Aquino about this revolutionary change.

It’s been an excellent ride. Here’s to another ten!

Push Nope-ifications

July 5, 2018

By Ged Maheux

Today we’re rolling out an update for Twitterrific on iOS and macOS that addresses upcoming changes with how apps interact with Twitter. Unfortunately, these changes hinder the ability of third-party apps like Twitterrific to do push notifications and live-stream events.

We had hoped there would be cost-effective ways to work around these limitations, but since that’s looking increasingly unlikely, today we’re here to explain exactly what these changes mean to Twitterrific users like yourself.

Push Pulled

If you purchased the Push Notifications Advanced Features on iOS at any point in the past, you will continue to receive notifications until Twitter deactivates their API. Sometime after August 16th, 2018, Twitterrific won’t be able to receive and display notifications natively.

When this happens, you won’t be notified when someone likes one of your tweets, quotes you, replies to you, retweets, sends a direct message, or follows you. Since these notifications also power the Today view and Twitterrific’s Apple Watch app, we will be retiring both.

Given that notifications are going away, today’s iOS update removes the Push Notification in-app purchase for new users. There is now a single “Enhanced” in-app purchase item including ad removal and tweet translation for $2.99 USD. The Tip Jar remains for those who wish to contribute to Twitterrific’s long-term development.

Unrealtime

Twitter will also be removing the live-streaming service for third-party apps. This means that after the API is shut down, tweets and direct messages will be delayed by a minute or two, instead of displaying in real time.

Starting with today’s update, Twitterrific will still attempt to live stream tweets but will fall back to automatically refreshing your timelines every 2 minutes if it’s unable to connect. Automatic refreshing, unlike streaming, will work even if you are connected via a cellular network.

In most use cases you probably won’t notice the difference, except in cases like live events or with popular searches that update frequently. On the plus side, this change means that Lists can finally auto-refresh themselves like other timelines – something that had been sorely missing for a long time.

I Want My Ac-tiv-ity!

While there is little we can do to work around the removal of live streaming, it will still be possible to continue to receive push notifications for tweets. How? Simply activate all the notification types you want to receive in the official Twitter client. Then keep using Twitterrific to browse your timeline, tweet, respond to direct messages, read threads, like tweets, and much more.

Using notifications via the official app also means you can continue to receive them on your wrist via Apple Watch. Tweet text won’t be color-coded as it was in Twitterrific, but you’ll still be able to keep yourself apprised of the latest events.

The Bottom Line

We sincerely wish Twitter would have offered third party developers a better way forward for our customers. Apps like Twitterrific helped build Twitter’s brand and expand its user base. We even contributed to its lexicon and feature sets (Tweet tweet!) Twitter’s priorities over the last several years, however, have shifted away from end users and toward brands and big companies. We have no choice but to adapt as best we can.

As of this writing, both push notifications and live streaming of tweets will continue to function at least into August, 2018. Installing today’s update means you’ll lose Twitterrific’s Watch app, but as long as you’ve purchased them in the past, the Today view and push notifications will continue to work until the cut off. New customers will not be able to unlock these features going forward as we did not feel it was fair to continue charging for a service that we know is ending.

Thank you so much for your loyalty and support over the years! All of us at The Iconfactory appreciate it more than we can say.

Favicons. Finally.

June 7, 2018

By Craig Hockenberry

If you’re one of those people that got excited by Safari screenshots in macOS Mojave sporting favicons in tabs, we’ve got some good news: you can have them right now in the Safari Technology Preview. And you don’t even have to pronounce it fav-ah-con.

But there’s more to the new feature than you might think. Take a look at what appears on the Iconfactory home page in the latest Chrome and the Safari releases:

Why are the icons different? The answer lies in this one line of page markup:

<link rel="mask-icon" href="/favicon.svg" color="#990000">

We keep a favicon.ico file in the root of the website filesystem for compatibility with browsers that don’t support vector icons. But Safari knows that SVG will look better on a high resolution display, so it checks for a favicon.svg first.

Since favicons are an important branding element for a website, you’ll want to learn more about how this new format works. All the details are in our extensive tutorial. Enjoy!

Tips for Great Service

June 1, 2018

By Ged Maheux

Linea Sketch Tip Jar in version 2.1
With this week’s release of Linea Sketch, we added some important new features and improvements, but also something called a Tip Jar. You can open the Tip Jar from the Settings menu at any time, but you’ll probably only notice it when we deliver new features in the app. You’ll see an icon in the sidebar or a temporary banner at the bottom of the project view.

We designed these indicators to be unobtrusive, but still remind you that ongoing support of the app is needed. Since it’s an optional in-app purchase, you can contribute as often as you like or not at all. It’s all up to you.

We released a major update to Linea in March and made the update free so all customers would benefit from the new tools and features. We considered ways to charge for the update or change the sales model (to “freemium”, “paymium”, subscription, etc.) but none of them felt quite right for Linea. Instead, we decided that we would add a tip jar as a “pay what you want” upgrade.

So why would you want to spend more money on Linea if you don’t have to?

Because you want new functionality. The revenue generated from sales and tips all go to fund development in the app. As developers, our hope is the new tip jar will let us devote more time for improvements.

If we’ve learned one thing from working on Linea, it’s that people are passionate about their drawing apps. Software like Linea Sketch, Procreate, and others let us express our creativity and be productive. We develop a deep connection with these tools and are constantly looking for ways to incorporate them into our work. All of the Linea Sketch changes in the past year flow from a desire to improve the app for everyone.

We appreciate all the love users have shown for Linea and want to update the app for years to come. But our continued improvements depend on your continued support.

The next time Linea Sketch helps you visualize that complex design problem, or quickly jot down notes for an important meeting, or simply brings a smile to your face as you sketch your latest masterpiece, we’d appreciate it if you’d consider throwing a few coins in our tip jar.

Rest assured that we all thank you and will continue to give you great service!

Linea Sketch 2.1 – Color Is Key

May 29, 2018

By Ged Maheux

Linea Sketch v2.1 for iPad Hero Image

We love color. As any designer will tell you, color plays a critical part in the creative process. Every single day, artists use color to set a particular tone for a project, evoke emotions or reinforce a specific brand. We’re pleased to announce the way you use color in Linea Sketch for the iPad is getting even better. Today’s update extends and improves Linea’s already outstanding color support so that you can choose and manage colors with ease.

Custom Color Picker

Linea Sketch’s Custom Color Picker now offers more options including the ability to adjust the lightness or darkness of a color. It also lets you choose colors for your sketch via hex code or the new eyedropper tool. Choose any available custom color swatch to open the Color Picker. Then simply tap to activate the eyedropper and and use the loupe to track to the desired color on the canvas. When you release, the color along with all of its tints and shades are automatically added to the palette. It’s that easy.

Linea Sketch's new Color Picker

The new Color Picker keeps a running set of your most recent colors so you don’t have to worry about losing track of colors as you work. You can also revert to previous colors or completely remove a color from the palette. Tap any color in the recent list to quickly add it back to the main palette or experiment to find others you like.

Color Sets

From the beginning, Linea Sketch was designed to present colors in an elegant and compact way. Auto generation of tints and shades allowed for consistency across projects but was limited to just 3 color palettes. With today’s update, these three palettes can now be customized using the new Color Sets feature.

Tapping the icon at the top of the color palette lets you customize it and choose from a host of pre-defined sets. New color sets include pastels, art deco, flesh tones, and more. There’s even sets designed for specific use cases like app design and a fun set of familiar colors called “Dry Erase” we think you’ll love.

Choose from a range of pre-defined color sets like fleshtones, pastels and more

Want to forgo Linea’s default color palettes entirely? With the new Color Sets feature you can set all three banks to custom colors, providing the maximum number of custom color slots for your projects. Finally, the new Recent Color set gives you quicker access to the new eyedropper tool and extends the number of recent colors tracked in the Color Picker to its maximum.

New Templates

Linea Sketch now offers helpful productivity templates including a to-do list and calendar. We’ve also added a new category of templates called Web Design that includes several entries for responsive web design. These new templates are great for sketching layouts for both the web and mobile platforms simultaneously and are available in both portrait and landscape mode.

Additional improvements in Linea Sketch version 2.1 include lower latency when drawing with the pencil and pen tools, displaying the selected color in each tool’s size indicator and several important bug fixes. We’ve also added a way for fans to help contribute to ongoing development beyond their initial purchase with Linea’s new Tip Jar. Tipping is completely optional and is a great way to support our continued efforts to bring great new features to your favorite iPad sketching app. To contribute a tip, simply open the Settings view, tap Tip Jar, and choose your level of support. Thank you!

Linea Sketch is currently available from the App Store at 50% off. Current customers will be pleased to know that today’s update is FREE. No in-app purchases or subscriptions are required to get all the great new functionality in version 2.1. Be sure to check out the version history page for the complete list of what’s new in this release as well as the Tips & Tricks page for helpful tips to speed your work flow.

If you’ve been looking for a digital sketch pad that you can use without muss or fuss, Linea Sketch is the app your been waiting for. We can’t wait to see how it helps bring your ideas to life!

Updates Galore!

April 23, 2018

By Craig Hockenberry

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been giving all of our apps some attention. Rather than flood this blog with a bunch of posts about the updates, here’s a quick recap:

  • xScope 4.3.1 — Added a couple of frequently requested features and made sure that everything works great on macOS High Sierra.
  • iPulse 3.0.3 — A small update to address some issues displaying disk statistics with the new Apple File System (APFS).
  • Flare 2.2.6 — Fixed a few small UI issues on High Sierra and improved rendering performance on the latest macOS releases.
  • Take Five 1.2.3 — Updated our FREE utility for controlling iTunes so its window wouldn’t jump around on High Sierra.
  • Exify 1.2.1 — Fixed a problem with the sharing extension hiding controls when being called by some applications.

And last, but certainly not least, there are new versions of Twitterrific for both iOS and macOS. Last Friday’s update added support for attaching a photo or video when sending direct messages, improved keyboard support for messages, fixed a few bugs, and more!

To check out all our apps, head over to iconfactoryapps.com. Thanks!

Apps of a Feather

April 6, 2018

By Craig Hockenberry

If you use a third-party app, such as our own Twitterrific, upcoming changes at Twitter will significantly affect how you use the service.

An API that all apps use to receive a continuous stream of updates for push notifications and timeline refresh is going away. Twitter has not yet provided third-party developers with a replacement.

At this point, all we can do is raise awareness about what’s happening. To this end, third-party developers have joined together to explain the situation in more detail: please take a moment to visit the Apps of a Feather site.

For the past 11 years, we’ve worked hard to make a great experience for our customers. It’s not hyperbole to say Twitter is putting it all at risk on June 19th, 2018.