The Breakroom

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.

Linea + iPadOS = BFFs

September 16, 2019

By Webmaster

Linea 2.7 with Rob McCallum illustration of future lady

Today’s update of Linea for both iPad and iPhone includes support for iOS 13, frequently requested features from our community of users, and makes sketching easier and more fun than ever. If you enjoy visualizing your ideas, getting work done, or just doodling, today’s update is right up your alley.

The Darkness and the Light

We’ve been working hard to make Linea fully compatible with Apple’s new operating system. One of the most compelling new features, Dark Mode, is now fully supported in both Linea Sketch and Go. In addition to tool, layer, and color palettes, the dark working environment has been extended to other parts of the app.

Linea's project view running in Dark Mode under iOS 13

This means that the project view, popovers, preferences, and related interface elements all look great when running with iOS 13’s new appearance. If you’re sketching in low light conditions, Linea running in Dark Mode is a welcome sight for sore eyes. We think you’ll be pleased.

One Is Good, Many Are Best

One highly requested feature from our customers has finally arrived – support for multi-page PDFs! With just a few taps, you can now export an entire Project folder of sketches into a single PDF document. Open the main Project view and tap the Project’s actions icon (⋯) and select “Export As PDF…” Linea collects all of the sketches and gives you options to customize the final appearance of the file, including margins, background color, and more.

Linea's project view running in Dark Mode under iOS 13

If you don’t want to save out an entire project, you can open the folder, use Select to choose individual sketches, and use the actions menu to generate your PDF. These all-in-one documents are great for presentations, putting together a storyboard, printing hard copies, or sharing your work with others.

Bigger, Better, Quicker

We’ve added a new feature that let ZipLines snap to 0°, 45° and 90°. This makes it a lot easier to draw perfectly straight lines at fixed angles, without the need for a grid or an enclosed shape. It’s super handy, but can be disabled in Settings if you choose.

selecting the new larger pen sizes in Linea

If you enjoy drawing with Linea’s pen tool, you’ll be pleased to know we’ve also added six larger sizes for sketching. To access these new sizes, open the pen’s options and flick the size indicators to page between sets. These new pens make inking and outlining large illustrations easier; they also work great for calligraphy.

Finally, comes the ability to set app-wide defaults for your canvas preference. The paper type, background, and template preferences from any existing sketch can now be used as the default for new drawings. Simply open an existing sketch and tap the sketch actions icon (⋯), then choose “Set Canvas as Default”. Linea remembers the setup and will use it from then on: quite a time saver!

One More Thing

We’ve also optimized Linea Sketch to work flawlessly with Apple’s newly announced 10.2″ iPad, so if you’re looking for a great sketching device at a great price, we’ve got you covered.

Don’t forget to check out our Tips & Tricks page for some great ways to improve your workflow. There’s also Sketch’s and Go’s version history pages for the complete list of changes.

If you’re not using Linea yet, today’s update is a great reason to get on board! Head on over to the App Store to download Linea Sketch for iPad or Linea Go for iPhone and you’ll be creating in no time!

It’s Hip to Be Square!

September 6, 2019

By Ged Maheux

Back in the day all of us here at the Iconfactory lived, ate, and slept customization. If there was a way to change the appearance of something on our desktops, from icons to wallpapers and even the Mac’s overall look and feel, we forged ahead and changed it. Indeed, we built our early business around the fact Mac users loved to change their icons, wallpapers, iPulse jackets, and lots more.

Times have changed of course, and Apple locked down many of the fun pieces of software we used to enjoy so much like Kaleidoscope, iControl, and CandyBar. But today we’re reclaiming just a tiny bit of that nerdy battlefield thanks to our most recent cross-platform updates to Twitterrific. We’ve had theme support in Twitterrific for years, but now we’re giving you the tools to create your own themes for both macOS and iOS, as well as the ability to share them with other Twitterrific users.

Ollie pulls out his glasses and pocket protector in the Nerdy Bird app icon

We’ve set up a Dropbox archive that contains all of the default themes used in Twitterrific. These themes make great starting points for anyone who wants to customize the appearance of Twitterrific’s timelines and windows.

To help make this process a bit easier, we’re also releasing the internal tool we use to create these themes. Nerdy Bird may not be a slick, polished app, but it gives you everything you need to open an existing light or dark theme, tweak it, and save it just the way you like. Themes can be shared on your devices by simply dropping them into the iCloud Drive > Twitterrific > Themes folder: they immediately become available on both platforms. Neat!

We’ve also included a repository where you’ll find a collection of custom Twitterrific themes contributed by a few brave souls who have already taken the plunge. We hope to grow the number of themes available in the weeks ahead, but there are already a handful to download now. If you’ve created a cool theme and want to share it with the Twitterrific community, write or tweet and let us know – we’ll add a special spot just for your creation.

There’s even a helpful online tutorial about Twitterrific theming from Ringgit Malaysia. He outlines the various colors that go into the creation of one of Ollie’s complex themes, so check it out!

We’re not gonna lie, creating a custom theme is a complex and challenging task. But if you’ve been bitten by the customization bug, like we were long ago, have no fear: you’ve got a fever, and the nerdy prescription is finally here. Have fun, play safe, and enjoy yourselves!

Twitterrific 5.4 and 6.0.5

August 28, 2019

By Webmaster

Twitterrific 5.4 for macOS showing off new and improved media handling

Twitterrific 5.4 for macOS has been released with support for viewing full images right in your timeline, Twitter’s new quoted tweets with images, a bunch of great new themes and app icons and more! On the iOS side, Twitterrific moves to version 6.0.5 and gets a cool new theme, Trogon, plus speed improvements and important fixes for some nasty bugs.

With these releases we have unified our themes across platforms which means you now have all of the same options on the desktop as you’ve been enjoying on iOS. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can even make your own theme files, drop them in Twitterrific’s iCloud Drive folder, and use them on every device.

We know that sometimes you still have to use in Safari, so we’ve bundled Fixerrific with Twitterrific 5.4. Fixerrific is a Safari Web Extension that cleans up and gets rid of the clutter. Once you install Twitterrific for macOS, head to Safari’s preferences and activate Fixerrific under the Extensions tab. This will hide Twitter Trends and the Who to Follow sidebar elements in the new Twitter design which lets you focus on your tweets.

Be sure to visit the Twitterrific website for the entire list of what’s new, then head to the App Store and download Twitterrific 5.4 and Twitterrific 6.0.5 today. Enjoy and thanks for your support!

The Curious Case of the Core Data Crash

August 26, 2019

By Sean Heber

Detective Heber hot on the trail of the Curious Case of the Core Data Crash

For several years, Twitterrific has been plagued by Core Data crash reports that I haven’t been able to figure out. It was so bad that nearly all of Twitterrific’s reports were from this framework. I knew I was doing something wrong, but didn’t know how to fix a problem I couldn’t reproduce. After lots of investigation on Twitter and Google, nothing ever turned up.

Worse, it got to the point where I mostly ignored this seemingly unsolvable problem.

Recently, there was a breakthrough. Three people used the new TestFlight feedback mechanism to report a crash on iOS. They also noted the app was in the background at the time. I had long suspected that was the case with this bug, but always assumed I was missing something important.

Rather than look at the crash reports inside Xcode’s Organizer as I usually do, I downloaded the report attached directly to the feedback report and took a look at the file. The stack trace matched the Core Data crashes I had seen many times in Organizer. No surprises there.

I was about to close the log in defeat when I noticed that the Termination Reason was something unfamiliar. Xcode‘s Organizer does not report the cause of termination — after all, one would assume the reason was BECAUSE IT CRASHED, DUH!

But here’s the thing: that assumption is totally wrong. iOS routinely terminates apps for all sorts of reasons, including using too much memory or taking too long to do background processing. I don’t know why this information isn’t included in Xcode’s Organizer, but it’s a critical piece of a debugging puzzle.

Naturally, the termination reason in the raw crash log isn’t some nice human-readable message. It’s a hex code and a cryptic string that maybe suggests which subsystem is responsible for it. Why make crash reports easy for the developers, right?

In this Core Data crash report the termination reason was: Namespace RUNNINGBOARD, Code 0xdead10cc. This nugget was something new I could search on the web for. Many of the results were just pasted crash reports with little attention paid to the significance of the termination reason.

But one result led to Tech Note 2151, with the code listed at the end under Other Exception Types:

The exception code 0xdead10cc indicates that an application has been terminated by the OS because it held on to a file lock or sqlite database lock during suspension.

Holy crap! I’ve been searching for this for ages and here, finally, was a clue! I started looking around the code in search of a trigger for this exception. I discovered that Twitterrific was sometimes closed while it was doing a network download and iOS left it running in the background long enough for the network request to finish. But not long enough for the database update to finish.

Due to incorrectly placed task markers, the background task would be marked done before it had finished saving the database. When things happened in the wrong sequence, iOS would unceremoniously kill the process — making it look like it had crashed somewhere inside of Core Data.

I spent several days reworking a bunch of old code to ensure that task markers were started and ended in the proper sequence, and to ensure that the task wasn’t marked as complete until after the entire process was done.

Lo and behold, this appears to have worked!

Prior to the fix, one recent build had over 90 crash reports from TestFlight in the span of just four days. Three days after releasing a new build to TestFlight, there were only 9 crash reports, and they were all caused by a simple bug introduced during refactoring.

So there you have it — another exciting tale of me doing things wrong for years. Remember kids, I’m a professional!

xScope, Catalina, and Screen Recording

August 16, 2019

By Craig Hockenberry

We just released a new version of xScope that adds compatibility for the upcoming version of macOS Catalina. You can update using the Mac App Store or with “Check for Updates…” in the xScope menubar. If you’re new to xScope, you can download a FREE trial from the product website.

The most visible change on Catalina is a series of new prompts for Screen Recording after you first launch xScope on the new OS. This slight inconvenience is a good thing, because there are a lot of bad things that could happen if an app abused this feature.

We have never stored the screen recording except by explicit user action, such as taking a screenshot. We have never performed any processing on the image that would extract your personal information. And we never will, so we hope you’ll grant us permission to use this feature.

The first dialog is a prompt by the app that explains why we need the permission:

xScope screen recording dialog in macOS Catalina

After you dismiss that dialog, you’ll see the new prompt from macOS. Click Open System Preferences to continue and give xScope the required permissions.

macOS Security & Privacy preference panel showing xScope with a blue check next to it

If all goes well, you’ll end up with blue checkmark next to xScope on this screen in System Preferences:

macOS asking to open System Prefs and grant xScope permission in Catalina

If you choose to deny permission, xScope tools like Rulers, Guides, Frames, Crosshair, and Text will continue to work, but in a limited fashion. It’s your choice and we’ll do our best to respect it.

For more information about this release, check out the version history. If you love the Doctor Who wallpaper in the screenshots above, it and many others are available from our Patreon account. Enjoy!