The Breakroom

A Factory Record

December 16, 2019

By Craig Hockenberry

Last week was a busy one, we released 10 product updates: a record number! Rather than bombard you with bunch of posts, here’s a quick recap of all that’s new:

  • iPulse – Our system monitoring utility got a refresh for some small issues on Catalina, mainly with the new startup disk layout.
  • xScope – Every developer and designer’s favorite tool for measuring, inspecting, and testing their work got some performance improvements and crash fixes, both on macOS and iOS.
  • Linea – The iPad, iPhone, and Mac products all got some new features, including a pricing change to keep the product sustainable.
  • Triode – Our new Internet Radio app for iOS, macOS, and tvOS got its first update! We included a bunch of features requested by new customers including the ability to arrange Your Favorites as you please.
  • Stickers – If that wasn’t enough to kill your average developer, we also released an update to our Sticker packs. Mallow & Puddin’ got some new icons, while other packs got a refresh to ensure compatibility with the latest iOS release.

We even started testing a new product idea ‐ if you want to know more about that, join our club of supporters, and get lots of goodies before anyone else :-)

The Swipe Stuff

December 13, 2019

By Sean Heber

For many years, Twitterrific on iOS used a relatively simple custom presentation for modal popup views such as conversation threads and profiles. With the release of iOS 13, Apple changed the design of standard modal popup views to have a more card-like appearance and behavior.

With this change, our custom popups still worked, but they didn’t feel like they fit in anymore. The native iOS 13 popups have a bit of bounce when dragged, a new size, they stack visually, and have a different background fade.

Rather than trying to duplicate all of this behavior in our own custom presentation code, we removed it all and used the native functionality instead. In short order, the app was looking refreshed and more modern – but there was a problem: the new modal popups were harder to dismiss.

Our prior presentation system had several handy ways to dismiss the popups, including tapping or swiping down in the space outside of the view, swiping down from the popup’s title bar, or swiping back from the edge of the screen.

Apple’s default allows you to swipe down and easily dismiss from anywhere in the panel – but only if the content doesn’t scroll or is pinned to the top. There is no support for tapping to dismiss or swiping down in the area outside of the popup.

To make matters worse, if the popup view needs to support pull-to-refresh, it has to disable that nice swipe-down dismissing gesture or else it’s impossible to actually pull down when you want to refresh!

That leaves only two ways to dismiss a standard popup when using pull-to-refresh: swipe down from a nav bar or title bar in the popup or a close button. Both of those approaches involve reaching to the top of your screen, which is not an easy feat if you have a large phone and small hands!

Our loyal customers have enjoyed our easy-to-dismiss popups for years. While the new ones looked and fit in better, they were also a significant usability regression. We weren’t happy about that and decided we needed to address the problem.

After considering several design options, including a close button at the bottom of all popup views, or ensuring there was always a bit of stable chrome somewhere low enough to grab, we eventually arrived back where we originally started: the popups just needed some better gestures!

Swipe

Our solution turned out to be relatively simple: we added two additional gesture recognizers to the presentation controller’s container view after our popup view controller has appeared. When active, these gestures modify the container view’s position to provide the live interaction feedback.

The first gesture is a simple swipe-down on the background behind the popup which makes it easier for iPad users to dismiss the floating panels. The second is a back-swipe gesture that’s triggered at the edge of the screen. For the back-swipe interaction, we implemented a nice springy compression effect that feels right at home on iOS 13 – once you’ve swiped over enough, the standard view dismissal is triggered and the view animates down and to the right in a way that feels surprisingly natural.

Now that we’ve grown accustomed to these gestures in Twitterrific, it’s frustrating to encounter the less usable and more rigid native popups in other apps. We hope this post helps other developers implement a similar mechanism for dismissing modal popups. And who knows – maybe Apple will consider adopting it across the whole system!

Linea 2.8 and Beyond

December 2, 2019

By Webmaster

Linea 2.7 with Rob McCallum illustration of future lady

Today we’re announcing the release of Linea 2.8 with a handful of improvements and bug fixes.

  • Improved performance for ZipShapes drawn with Art Pencil and Felt Tip Pen
  • Multi-page PDF output can now be sorted with oldest or newest sketch first
  • Tweaked color of crop overlay to work better with dark backgrounds
  • Fixed 3×2 app icon template and rendering of hexagonal grid
  • Fixed blurriness when pasting or importing sketches and images
  • Preference to turn off tilt with Apple Pencil

Most important, however, is the news that the app will be transitioning to a subscription payment model. This will happen with the release of Linea 3.0 sometime early in 2020.

I HATE SUBSCRIPTIONS!

We tried hard to avoid a subscription, but the costs to maintain the app are much higher than the income from new sales. This is obviously not a sustainable situation! We have two options:

  1. Let the app die a slow, painful, and unsupported death
  2. Find a source of recurring revenue

The High Cost of Maintenance

We spent over 200 hours on the Linea 2.7 update. A majority of that time was not even spent adding new features, instead it was spent making sure that everything looked right with the operating system’s new Dark Mode!

Changes to the operating system are obviously outside of our control but they must be dealt with or else the app risks becoming unusable. For example, prior to our work to properly handle dark mode, if you went to select a new template, you were presented with a menu that had black text on a black background.

Apple has recently begun to make a distinction between “iOS” for the iPhone and “iPadOS” for iPads. We expect that we are entering a period where new iPad-specific features will require a lot of maintenance in the coming years. If we don’t keep up-to-date, you’ll be working with a broken or unusable version of Linea sooner rather than later.

What You’ll Get With a Subscription

To begin with, Linea will become a Universal app — your subscription will include full access on both your iPad and iPhone.

We’re also planning on some great new additions with Linea 3.0:

  • Time-lapse to capture your creation as it evolves
  • Templates with adjustable intensity
  • Custom backgrounds with adjustable paper color and texture
  • App themes and beautiful new app icons for your home screen
  • QuickToggle: two-handed drawing is all we’re going to say :-)
  • And more…

All of this comes at a low price: 99¢ per month or $9.99 per year (a 20% savings.) Additionally, if you purchased Linea at any time in 2019, you’ll also get a free one year subscription. If you still don’t own Linea Sketch, now’s the time to get on board.

Linea 3.0 will include a free trial where new users can create a handful of sketches without any time limits.

What Happens If I Don’t Subscribe?

Without a subscription, you will be in a free trial that limits the number of new documents you can create. Your existing sketches will still be editable and exportable, so they can be migrated to another app or saved for posterity.

Our companion app for macOS, Linea Link, also provides another way to download all of your sketches. To make this option easier, Linea Link is now available for free on the Mac App Store.

Let Me Keep Using The Old Version!

In our opinion, leaving an old version of the app to die on the App Store is irresponsible.

It is very likely that future changes to the operating system will break the ability to export your existing sketches entirely. If and when that happens, all of your valuable work would forever be lost.

The only way for us to continuously preserve access to your work is for us to keep the app up to date as best we can. To be able to afford to do that, we need your support.

If you still don’t agree, then feel free to export your work and move on.

We Love Linea

This has been a difficult decision for all of us here at the Iconfactory. We aren’t making this change lightly. We’re doing this because we know that many of you are like us—you rely on Linea to do your job or express your ideas and it would really stink if it went away.

Everything we do here at the Iconfactory is thanks to your generous support. We recently moved Twitterrific to a subscription model with positive results that guaranteed its future development. We hope you’ll help us do the same with Linea. Watch for the launch of Linea Sketch 3.0 sometime in early 2020.

Twitterrific Subscriptions Going Well

November 22, 2019

By Ged Maheux

Twitterrific 6 logo over a field of iPhones and iPads running the new app

Back in June, we launched Twitterrific 6 with over 30 new and long-requested features from our users. We also switched from a one-time in-app purchase to a subscription to help support ongoing development. It’s been 5 months since the switch, so we wanted to let you know how’s it’s been going.

In short, it’s going well!

After a rocky transition, new users are generally happy with the new full-featured version they can download for free in the iOS App Store. Subscribing removes advertisements at the top of the timeline and occasional subscription reminders. Folks that find value in Twitterrific are happy to support development and pay for a monthly or annual subscription. Revenue has increased slowly but surely and our 79% retention rate remains high for an app of this type.

Graph showing number of subscribers per month since launch

This recurring revenue has achieved what we had hoped: to allow continued development – not just maintaining it, but also adding new and important features!

Since June there have been 10 updates of Twitterrific – that’s an average of 2 per month. Each update has brought with it a host of improvements and bug fixes. An example is version 6.1 which added automatic theme switching, multi-window support for iPadOS, and more.

Twitterrific was in the App Store on day one as the first third-party app that helped Twitter become the popular social media service it is today. We’re gratified so many of you have stuck with us over the years and continue to support Ollie through thick and thin.

We have even more great ideas how Twitterrific can continue to grow and improve and with your help, we are looking forward to bringing them to life.

Introducing Triode

November 14, 2019

By Webmaster

The Triode logo

Today we’re happy to introduce Triode, our new multi-device app that’s the best way to enjoy all of your favorite Internet radio stations, wherever you go.

Always With You and Your Devices

Triode takes advantage of the advanced capabilities of today’s Apple devices like multi-room audio with AirPlay 2, CarPlay, Siri Shortcuts automation, and iCloud data syncing. It’s packed with great features:

The Triode logo

  • A unified experience across iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV.
  • Save your favorite stations, automatically synced to all your devices.
  • Beautiful, high-res album artwork.
  • Our Picks – A curated selection of high-quality, listener-supported stations to get you started.
  • Search over 30,000 stations using call letters, city names, or musical genre. Looking for an Acadian music station in Louisiana? We’ve got you covered.

Native All the Way

Even better, Triode is a native app on all your devices, which brings you a host of small, thoughtful touches such as:

The Triode logo

  • Sharing support for the current track: add it to Notes, send it in Messages, or whatever suits your fancy.
  • Integration with iTunes Store and Apple Music: if you hear a song you love, it’s easy to add it to a playlist or purchase.
  • Streams automatically reconnect when you leave your home WiFi and transition to cellular data.
  • Audio feedback while using a screen-less interface like AirPods and Siri.
  • Full support for VoiceOver accessibility on iOS.
  • Universal app that adapts to display size: looks great on everything from an iPhone SE to an iPad Pro.

You Do All the Listening – Not Us

And unlike many web-based apps and streaming services, Triode was designed with your privacy in mind. We don’t collect any information from or about you. There are no Nielsen or other listening metrics being collected.

The Triode logo

Give Triode a Try!

Triode is completely free to use, with no in-app advertising. Listen to Our Picks or tens of thousands of searchable stations without paying us a cent. If you enjoy Triode, an inexpensive subscription gets you additional features that make the listening experience even better:

  • Add Favorites Your favorite stations are synced across all devices.
  • High Quality Artwork When available, album cover art is clean and crisp.

A single subscription works on all your devices. If you subscribe on the iPhone, you get the features on your Apple TV and Mac.

If you’re a music lover or a fan of our other great apps, download Triode today and give it a try. There are versions for iOS, macOS, and tvOS.

Proposed Anti-Bullying Emoji

November 8, 2019

By Cheryl Cicha

We are honored to be a part of an effort to make social media a kinder experience. Over the years we’ve designed thousands of emoji for clients such as Twitter, Facebook, and many others. When parliamentary candidate and former Secretary of State Penny Mordaunt approached us to create new emoji to support her anti-bullying campaign, we enthusiastically accepted the challenge. Although the most extreme forms of cyber-bullying are dealt with via reporting, blocking or the police, our challenge was to illustrate emoji that call out more nuanced levels of abusive, rude, and bad behavior online.

The goal was to create friendly, non-confrontational emoji that are easy to identify when seen in a timeline. They are intended to be used to let others, including friends, know they’ve overstepped or to help others identify people who behave badly on a regular basis.

Anti-Bullying Emoji Concepts
The emoji are currently at the sketch stage to communicate concepts and gain support. If approved by the Unicode Consortium, the emoji will be included in Unicode Standards and rendered in the unique style of each messaging platform. You can learn more about the campaign here and if interested support the effort to include the emoji in Unicode Standards or spread the word with #GoodMannersEmojis.

We’re excited to see where this goes and look forward to continuing use our craft to help create healthier social norms online.

Twitterrific 6.1 – Multi-Window!

October 24, 2019

By Webmaster

Leeloo holds from The Fifth Element holds up an iPad pro running Twitterrific 6.1 with multiple windows - MULTI-WINDOW!

Ever since iOS 13 was officially launched back on September 19th, we’ve been hard at work whipping Twitterrific into shape for the new operating system. Today’s update brings some amazing new features including automatic theme switching, improved visual styling and most notably support for multiple windows on iPad.

We can’t tell you how happy we are to be able to bring multiple timelines to Twitterrific on the iPad. This is a feature users have been requesting for years, and now thanks to iOS 13 it’s easy to activate and amazing to use.

As Many Windows As You Want

Have more than one Twitter account you want to keep tabs on? Maybe you use a single account but have lists of people you like to follow. Perhaps you just want to monitor your mentions or a favorite saved search all the time. Thanks to Twitterrific and iOS 13’s new multi-window support you can do all of these things and more.

Autoplaying video of an iPad running Twitterrific 6.1 with multiple windows

There are multiple ways to open new windows with Twitterrific 6.1. Perhaps the easiest is, with Twitterrific already running, to simply drag a new copy of the app from the iPad’s home screen dock up into iOS’s split view and release. From there you can then select the account or timeline type for the new instance and you’re ready to go.

You can also drag and drop the sidebar button out to create a new window for the account that’s currently active. Another way is to drag any account avatar from the account picker out of the panel to spawn a new window as well. Once you have a second window created, you can adjust window widths and select unique tabs like lists or searches for each one. Twitterrific remembers your window settings making browsing a snap.

Finally, with auto-refreshing, all of Twitterrific’s windows will continue to update and keep their reading positions in sync across all your devices. How cool is that?

Come to the Dark Side

Of course Twitterrific has had support for themes and our own Dark Mode for years. We’ve been constantly improving our themes, adding new light and dark entries, refining usability and recently announced the ability to create your own custom themes.

Auto theme-switching in Twitterrific 6.1

Today we’re pleased to announce support for iOS 13’s automatic theme switching to Twitterrific’s roster of features. Open Twitterrific’s appearance panel and set the app to change theme according to the system appearance. When iOS 13 changes from light to dark or vice versa, Twitterrific responds accordingly with the custom day and night themes you prefer.

We’ve kept the ability to manually switch themes as well as using Twitterrific’s own internal sunrise/sunset preferences so you can enjoy the best of both worlds. You can also change themes manually in the Appearance panel or via the two-finger swipe left/right gesture whenever you wish. Very handy when the lights go down unexpectedly.

Improvements Galore

We’ve also combed through the app and brought it inline with iOS 13’s visual styling so Twitterrific feels right at home. Popup views use native card-style behavior for the new OS. Alerts, menus and controls are all themed based on your personal theme preferences and the ‘System Font’ has been updated to a new, smoother typeface for iOS 13.

Other improvements include increased accessibility for the account picker panel for VoiceOver users, smoother loading of content on user profiles, new keyboard shortcuts and more accurate reading position synchronization across iPad, iPhone and Mac.

There are so many more improvements and bug fixes be sure to visit Twitterrific’s version history page for the entire list of what’s new, then head to the App Store and download Twitterrific 6.1 for iOS today. The app is free to download so enjoy and thanks for your support!

Sticky Treats for Halloween

October 7, 2019

By Webmaster

Clicker in all its simplistic glory running on Series 4 Apple Watch

The days are growing shorter and the leaves on the trees have started to fall which can only mean our favorite holiday isn’t far away – Halloween. Anyone who’s visited the Iconfactory knows how much we absolutely love this spooky season.

The Iconfactory website has once again undergone its annual transformation to reflect our love for all things macabre. In addition, the assembly line goblins are hard at work cobbling together up all kinds of creepy treats for our Patreon subscribers. October will find them awash in holiday-themed wallpapers, avatars and icons so what a great time to sign up and support our efforts to bring you all the treats and none of the tricks!

And speaking of treats, we have something very special for you. Our first new sticker pack in three years! Skullmoji is a fun, light-hearted collection of skeleton stickers perfect for pasting into chats with family and friends this Halloween season. It joins the ranks of our other iMessage sticker packs and is available today for just 99¢ in the App Store. If you love emoji, be sure to check it out, you don’t want to get caught dead on your feet!

Lastly, don’t forget our huge cache of Halloween goodies we’ve amassed over the years, unlike candy they never get stale! We hope you have a spooky, safe and fun Halloween this year. Boo!

Linea Loves Inktober

September 25, 2019

By Webmaster

The official Inktober prompt list for 2019

It’s that time of year when artists the world over take up their pens, pencils, brushes, and digital styluses and participate in Inktober. Started by illustrator and animator Jake Parker in 2014, Inktober encourages people to draw 31 drawings in 31 days, one for each day in October.

People share their drawings on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and encourage others to join in the ink-laden fun. As of September 2019 Inktober had over 500k followers on Instagram with people contributing hundreds of new posts every day!

Digital drawing apps like Linea Sketch for the iPad make participating in Inktober easy and fun and this year we’re taking it a step further. We’ve created a set of free downloadable templates that you can easily import into Linea Sketch.

These templates are broken out by pages and numbered to contain the prompt for that particular day’s drawing. The templates are great for those who like to have a uniform set of drawings for the entire month of Inktober or who want to stay tight and focused on their daily creations.

Linea’s Inktober templates are completely free, easy to set up, and should quickly get you on your way to joining in on the inking fun. Check out our short video tutorial on how to get the templates into Linea Sketch for the iPad, and don’t forget to tag your posts with #LineaSketch – we’ll be sharing our favorites over on Instagram. Get your Apple Pencils ready. October will be here before you know it!

Clicker 1.2: More County for Old Man

September 19, 2019

By Craig Hockenberry

Clicker in all its simplistic glory running on Series 4 Apple Watch

After three years and tens of thousands of downloads, we’re pleased to announce a new version of Clicker, our popular Apple Watch app. Finally!

It’s a simple app that literally just increments and decrements a counter on your wrist, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. The most obvious change is support for the new complications on the Series 4 and 5 watches.

The new version allows you to set an optional goal for the counter. Combined with a ring complication, you can quickly see how close you are to finishing your laps, drinking enough water, filling your nightclub, or taking a break. Personally, I’m tracking how many swims I’ve done during the last year of my fifties.

There’s just one problem: I have no idea how well it works on the new Apple Watches.