The Breakroom

Iconfactory Celebrates 20 Years

June 20, 2016

By Ged Maheux

Iconfactory founders: Corey Marion, Dave Brasgalla, Gedeon Maheux, Craig Hockenberry and Talos Tsui

Company founders (left to right): Corey Marion, David Brasgalla, Ged Maheux, Craig Hockenberry, and Talos Tsui in the same room for the first and only time back in the summer of 1999.

If you had asked any of us in 1996 if we’d still be busy making icons and crafting software twenty years later, we probably would have thought you were crazy. It’s hard to believe we’re still here designing icons for you, our loyal fans and clients. What started as a hobby between three (and then five) friends has grown to become something beyond our wildest dreams. Throughout this journey we’ve been blessed to work with some of the most talented people in the industry, honored by our peers and all while doing something we love. Who could ask for more?

This month marks the 20th anniversary of the Iconfactory, and in order to help celebrate, we’ve put together “20 Years“, a webpage that highlights where we’ve been and how our art, techniques, and products have changed over the years. We’re also marking the occasion with special pricing on Flare, xScope and iPulse this week, so be sure to mark your calendars to take full advantage of these promotions.

We’ve also launched two brand new products. The first is BitCam, a fun, retro camera that lets you take old-school pictures circa 1996. BitCam is a great way to re-live the heady, early days of the Mac and has been receiving great reviews from users and press alike. The second new product is Exify, an iOS app that lets you peer inside your digital photos giving information on color range, metadata, location and much more. Written by veteran engineer Craig Hockenberry, Exify will help you better understand what makes a great digital photo. Both BitCam and Exify are available in the App Store today.

All of us here feel especially privileged that you’ve downloaded our iconic creations and software for the better part of a quarter century. In our own small ways we’ve done our best to contribute to the Mac & iOS community by giving back whenever possible. It’s our way of showing gratitude for the generous support you’ve all given us. As we look to the future, we’re filled with excitement for what technology and design trends have in store for us all. Join as we pause momentarily to look back and discover just how we got here. Explore and enjoy our digital tribute to the past twenty years, but please excuse us, we’ve got to get back to work. These icons and apps won’t design themselves!

Introducing Exify

June 20, 2016

By Craig Hockenberry

Exify for iPhone screen shot

For the past year or so, I’ve had an app on my iPhone that no one else has. It has helped me become a better iPhone photographer by letting me check composition and exposure. It also remembers when and where I took a picture. It lets me grab colors out of an image and even helped me understand how the CCD sensor in my phone works.

That app is Exify and you can download it today.

I originally wrote this app after I discovered how much additional information is embedded in the photos we take every day. Apple follows the Exif standard and includes a lot of metadata in our files. Unfortunately, much of this data doesn’t make its way into Photos and other apps that use our imagery: so I wrote my own.

Additionally, there is a lot of information you can extract from an image: things like sampling colors, measuring the proportions of a composition, and generating histograms that help you get the right exposure. Exify can do all that, too.

If you’re a professional photographer, you already know how important it is to copyright your work before distribution. Exify’s editing extension lets you add both a copyright and watermark to an image while editing in the Photos app. These edits are non-destructive, so you can easily remove the information and get back to your original photo.

One of the features I love the most about this app are the action extensions. They let you examine or query any image using the share sheet. Want to know where a photo in Messages was taken? Or check the info for an image you’re viewing in Safari? Or magnify the pixels of an image in Photos? Exify can do all of that and more.

For a full rundown of what this app can do, we invite you to check out the short video and documentation on the product page. Exify is available from the App Store today. Enjoy!

BitCam

June 9, 2016

By Craig Hockenberry

BitCam Tout

With WWDC just around the corner, we thought it would be a great time to release an app that takes advantage of all the latest technology in your pocket.

Announcing BitCam – the world’s most advanced camera for your mini pocket computer. Years in the making, this is just a hint at what’s to come as we celebrate the Iconfactory’s 20th anniversary this month.

Here’s what our geeky friends in the press have said about BitCam:

Paul Miller – The Verge:

I paid $1.99, and I don’t even like taking photos. The whole app has a delicious Mac OS 6 feel — even the shutter sound is retro. Can I please get all my apps redesigned to reawaken childhood memories of being an Apple fanboy in the pre-iPod dark ages?

John Gruber – Daring Fireball:

Gorgeous, unbelievably faithful one-bit camera app for iPhone done in the style of the original Mac. A lovely tribute to Bill Atkinson’s remarkable dithering algorithm. “Catnip for old-school Mac users,” says John Siracusa. Check out the fun recent-hire-at-Apple Chris Espinosa is having with it.

Sarah Perez – TechCrunch:

BitCam has invented its own terminology that sounds like something from another era, too. This fun phrasing continues in the settings where you can choose to take photos with the “Self Camera” (the front-facing camera), or square-shaped photos for sharing on Instagram by choosing the “Instaphoto Size.”

Download it today from the application store! You’ll have plenty of time to read the software description as you install it from your 28kbps modem.

UPDATE: IF you tried to install BitCam’s color graphics card and got a vexing error, fret not! An update is coming soon that corrects the problem. Did we say the application store business is complicated? Because it is everything is good now. Enjoy those vibrant 8 colors!

Recipe for Launching Your First App

June 6, 2016

By Cheryl Cicha

Food App Concept

You have a great idea for an app that may be a unique twist on existing software or perhaps just building a better mobile mousetrap. One thing’s for sure – there’s nothing like it in the App Store but you wish there were.

Where to begin?

Everyday I talk to people that have really interesting ideas for apps. Many have spent careers in other industries as vastly different as pro sports, security, automotive and food services – you name it. They recognize a gap and know there is opportunity but getting started can be daunting. Here’s a common generic to do list:

• Find a designer that can make the app look great
• Find a development team
• Make sure I have enough capital to get it shipped
• Figure out how to market it & decide on a marketing budget
• Investigate how the App Store and Google Play work
• What if it fails? What if it goes viral?
• Where will my data live?
• Don’t forget customer support, content monitoring, and …

Don’t bolt yet! There are proven approaches that you can use that have worked successfully for our own clients. Here is a pragmatic recipe for bringing your mobile app from idea to minimum viable product (or as you’ll often hear in the industry: MVP) that will save you time, money and probably some sanity.

Basic ingredients:
To vet the concept, find a way to get the idea out of your head and in a form others can understand. Create a requirements document or do something quick and visual. If you can make a rectangle you can draw your idea. Use anything from index cards (the real ones that you’ve probably had in the back of your desk since 1990-something), to a myriad of apps like balsamiq and Paper. When flushing out your visuals keep it bare bones, black and white. If the core concept doesn’t resonate it won’t be any better with a snazzy logo.

Stir:
Show your bare bones “app” to a few trusted friends or to an experienced agency under NDA that is invested in your success (vs. I pay you x you do y). Do they understand it, think it’s valuable, have recommendations? Gently fold in criticism and improve on the idea. Not everyone loved it? That’s okay. Better to recycle a few index cards than spend thousands on development and get crickets at launch.

Sauté:
Once the idea starts to sizzle, engage a design and development team with expertise in mobile. This is critical – if it’s pretty but isn’t designed for the latest technologies or a native mobile experience, it’s spoiled; chuck the entire batch and start over.

Taste Test:
Using wireframes or a prototype, it is relatively inexpensive to test the idea on a small, independent target audience. This is a great time to make feature or user experience changes without throwing away gobs of code. There may be a few cycles through the last three steps until you narrow down the highest value features that make a great product people want to use. Your design and development teams should be working closely at this point even though very little code has been written.

Add Seasoning:
Start to think about marketing and monetization. If you’re not an experienced mobile marketer it may be worth looking to a partner that understands not only mobile marketing but your business goals, the feature set and it’s intrinsic value, target market, target budget, and KPI’s.

By now you are also working on the special sauce – your product’s brand and message. This can be done early with minimal investment in items like a logo, app icon, tagline, website, and a basic video that uses most of the design assets you now have in hand.

Bake:
When the design and feature set are finalized it’s time to start development. Your dev team has been engaged in the process and now they have a detailed recipe for efficiently building the app as designed. If you’ve chosen a talented team, the artistry and effort required to make it look and feel great on users’ devices will emerge. Add a good dose of quality assurance, and finish it off with beta testing on a larger scale.

A quality team sets milestones, checks in with you often to let you know how things are progressing and informs you of challenges or further decisions that need to be made. You should also be seeing builds delivered to your device on a regular basis. Beware teams with whom you have little interaction. You could order a burger and after a long wait, end up with a bowl of bulgur.

Serve:
There are several launch strategies we recommend to customers depending on their goals. One approach successfully used on MVP’s is a soft launch. Forego the pricey party and PR and enter the app stores in stealth mode. This gives you an opportunity to get feedback from a wider range of users and fine tune the product before making that big marketing splash.

Making an outstanding meal takes planning and time but that doesn’t mean it needs to break the bank. The early steps outlined here make for a quick, cost effective way to test your idea before a single line of code is written. There is a lot to consider in getting an app successfully to market but choosing an experienced partner that can guide you through the process, make strategic recommendations, and ensure design and development are working together is a recipe for a quality mobile product. Bon Appetite!

We stand ready to help turn the ideas of clients like yourself into great apps. Let us know how we can help.

Facebook Messenger Gets a New Emoji Face

June 1, 2016

By Ged Maheux

Facebook Emoji Hero Shot

Facebook’s popular Messenger app launched an important update today that added, among other things, an all-new, custom suite of emoji for users to enjoy. We’re gratified to have been enlisted by the Messenger team at Facebook to help make this new icon collection a reality. This monumental effort spanned months of work and included everything from the initial concept designs and visual refinements to final production and detailed testing assistance. The results are over 1200 uniquely-styled emoji specifically created to bring a light-hearted and fun feel to Messenger.

The Iconfactory is honored to have contributed to an important visual refresh of a widely loved product like Messenger. It’s always a challenge to design a unique visual style for something that has been done countless times before, but we are delighted with the results we achieved working with the team at Facebook. We hope users enjoy exploring these new emoji and we look forward to expanding the collection in the future with even more fun, friendly icons.

Twitterrific 5.14.4 Adds Ollie’s Tip Jar & More

June 1, 2016

By Ged Maheux

Ollie's Tip Jar

Today’s update of Twitterrific, our popular third party Twitter client, is full of improvements and fixes that are sure to enhance your tweeting experience. Version 5.14.4 now sports a handy search field at the top of most timelines that lets you quickly search for terms and tweets in no time flat. It also corrects several bugs associated with VoiceOver and Notification Center.

Most importantly, however, today’s release addresses a long-standing request we’ve received from users over the years – a way to donate additional funds towards the continued development of the app. To address this desire we’re pleased to introduce Ollie’s Tip Jar – a series of in-app purchases that users can voluntarily buy to help keep Twitterrific up and running.

The Tip Jar is our way of continuing to offer free and notable updates to Twitterrific while still (hopefully) paying for the cost of development. Since it’s launch in December of 2012, Twitterrific has been updated over 40 times – all for free. Rather than stopping development on Twitterrific version 5 and launching an all-new paid version 6, we’ve decided to include the Tip Jar in the hopes that users who enjoy and love the app will give generously so we can continue to provide updates.

There are five levels of tips available ranging from Chickadee (99¢) all the way up to Peacock ($19.99). Once you donate, the jar removes itself from the app’s sidebar for 30 days and then returns, quietly waiting for your spontaneous generosity at some point in the future. The App Store has changed since we first published Twitterrific back in 2008, so we’re trying something new. We hope you’ll donate to the cause but if you can’t, that’s okay too. We thank you for your past support none-the-less.

Twitterrific 5.14.4 is free to try via the App Store and is universal for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and iPod touch. Advanced features such as tweet translation, ad removal, and more are available via in-app purchase. Visit Twitterrific’s version history page for the complete list of new features, improvements and bug fixes.

Twitterrific Inducted into AppleVis 2016 iOS Accessibility Hall of Fame

May 24, 2016

By Ged Maheux

Over the years Twitterrific has collected critical recognition from the public and from the iOS developer community including an Apple Design Award and inclusion in the iMore Hall of Fame. This past week Twitterrific earned a new award that we felt was important to highlight: Membership in the AppleVis iOS Hall of Fame for App Accessibility.

In AppleVis’ own words, the iOS Hall of Fame plays an important part in empowering blind and low-vision users to better experience the digital world around them:

“Our Hall of Fame provides the community with a means to showcase and acknowledge the passion and hard work that app developers put into creating great apps that are fully accessible to VoiceOver users. These apps place powerful tools into the palms of our hands, and give access to services, information, media or entertainment that the sighted world takes for granted.”

Here at the Iconfactory, we’ve have made a conscious effort to make Twitterrific (and all our products) as accessible as possible. Lead engineer Sean Heber’s improvements and adoption of the latest accessibility features from both Apple and Twitter have received tons of positive feedback from the VoiceOver community and have encouraged us to re-double our efforts to make Twitterrific even better for blind and low-vision users.

Twitterrific would not have received this award without the support of our amazing group of VoiceOver beta testers and users like Michael Hansen, Ashley Bischoff, Alison Hartley and most especially Marco Zehe. Without this dedicated group of people, Twitterrific would not be as accessible or as easy to use. The insight and critical feedback they provide helps us greatly improve how VoiceOver works within the app and for that we are truly grateful. In short, we have them to thank just as much as all of the people who nominated and voted for us at AppleVis.

Knowing that our efforts help to measurably improve the lives of mobile users who are often taken for granted is extremely gratifying. From the entire Twitterrific team and all of us here at the factory, this is a great honor and one we are proud to receive. Thank you.

Looking at the Future

April 21, 2016

By Craig Hockenberry

At the last Apple Event, a seemingly simple thing was announced: a True Tone display on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro. This device also uses a new LCD panel and sports “a color standard big enough for Hollywood.”

As with most things released by Apple, there is an amazing amount of underlying technology that makes this new display shine. This new product is also a glimpse of how our screen technology will evolve over the coming years, so now is a good time to start understanding how these changes are going to affect our products.

As a developer, you’ll quickly realize that the scope of these changes will make your update to Retina graphics look like a walk in the park. At the end of this piece, you’ll also learn how I can help guide you through this process.

Wider Gamuts

Since the late 1990’s computer displays have almost universally used the range of colors specified by sRGB. The standard was developed to match typical viewing conditions in a home or office. My home and office have changed radically since then, but this standard has not.

The world of color science has notoriously bad acronyms and you’re about to become familiar with a new one: DCI-P3.

The “DCI” in the name stands for “Digital Cinema Initiatives”, a consortium of major motion picture studios. This new standard was published in 2007 by the Society of Motion Picture & Television Engineers (SMPTE). They’re the folks responsible for the test patterns on your TV and the time codes in your footage.

Today, there’s a symbiosis between the motion picture and computer industries: as celluloid film goes away, devices in various forms are now used to show movies. Computers are also indispensable for effects and editing in cinema production. Both groups benefit from excellent display quality.

In fact, the DCI-P3 standard was established as a way to control the quality of digital projection systems. It makes sense that iMacs and iPads can display the same range of colors as your local theater.

From your point-of-view, the important thing about DCI-P3 is that it can display a wider range of color. Apple’s promotional literature states that the new iPad Pro has “up to 25% greater color saturation than previous models”. The diagram below lets you see this difference:

sRGB vs Display P3

Comparing the gamuts of sRGB (colored shape) and the new 9.7″ iPad Pro (white area)

The polygons represent the range of color and are often referred to as “gamut”. The white area shows the additional color that can be displayed by the new iPad compared to a more typical sRGB display. The black outline indicates the maximum range of color our eyes can see (it’s the locus of the wavelengths captured by the long, medium and short cone cells in the retina.)

More importantly, this is just a hint of things to come. Ultra-high-definition television will use something called Rec. 2020 to display color (yet another great acronym!) Someday your Apple TV apps will be using this:

sRGB vs Rec. 2020

Comparing the gamuts of sRGB (colored shape) and Ultra-high-definition TV (white area)

Over the coming years, displays that only show sRGB are going to feel as antiquated as ones that can only display @1x resolution. And the only way you’re going to be able to cope with all these new kinds viewing environments is with a thing called “color management.”

Smart Displays

Unless you’re a color scientist, “chromatic adaptation” means nothing to you. Yet, you experience the phenomenon thousands of times every day. The cool part is that your iPad Pro is now mimicking your eye’s behavior.

Here’s what Apple says about the new display:

See things in the best possible light. Whatever the lighting.

People love using iPad everywhere. That’s why the new 9.7‑inch iPad Pro has a True Tone display. It uses advanced four-channel ambient light sensors to automatically adapt the color and intensity of the display to match the light in your environment. Which means reading is more natural and comfortable — almost like looking at a sheet of paper.

Specialized neurons in our brain do the same thing to adjust the information received by the cone cells in our eyes. When you look at a sheet of paper, the “gain” of our color receptors is adjusted so that constant color is perceived. Amazingly, this effect is seen with both the global illumination of your environment and the local illumination of what you’re focused on (this is why the checkerboard shadow illusion works.)

On the iPad, there’s some heavy-duty math being done on the GPU in real time. The colors of what you are viewing are transformed into a numerical model based on the wavelength responses of your retina’s cone cells. Those, in turn, are transformed into colors that are adjusted by sensors hidden behind the top bezel of the device.

Again, color management is the thing that makes it all work.

The Advantage of Managing Color

Today, we’re in a pleasant situation where displays don’t need to get any denser. Thanks to the Retina display and others like it, we can’t see the pixels that are on our screen.

There’s only one way for manufacturers to improve displays and gain a competitive advantage. They need to make the displays “deeper”; able to show a wider range of color. It’s also clear from Apple’s work that they see smarter displays, with things like True Tone technology, as a way to distinguish themselves in a crowded market.

Apple is in a unique position with regard to color management. They own a technology called ColorSync that first saw the light of day in 1993 with System 7.1 on the Mac. It’s also been integrated at a system-level for all of the OS X releases. It’s a very mature technology that recently made its way to mobile in the iOS 9.3 release.

On the other side of the coin, Android has no color management. Companies like Samsung are going to find it impossible to pull off something like True Tone and DCI-P3 without the aid of color management.

There are open source color management systems and profiling tools, but integrating them system-wide is a large undertaking. Also, color management can’t be an “add on”: most users won’t be aware it exists or how to enable it. Windows is a good example of that phenomenon—apps rarely use color management because developers can’t rely on it being available.

But I Can’t See It!

Apple has a bit of a problem with selling these new displays: the vast majority of people looking at promotional materials can’t see the wider color gamut. It’s physically impossible for the sRGB display on your current iPad to show off the increased saturation of the new iPad.

Even when you come in face-to-face with this new screen it’s hard to describe in words. Smart folks who can normally summarize their feelings in a few choice words end up saying things like this:

There is something about this new screen. It’s beyond me but it’s striking.

I had the same reaction and decided to look at the display in more detail. With the help of some sample wide-gamut images by Jeff Carlson, I decided to dig into the effect DCI-P3 was having on my eye. The result is a web page to compare color gamuts:

Wide Gamut Photos

Click on the image to explore the capabilities of the new 9.7″ iPad Pro display

Be careful on that web page: unless you’re looking at it on a 9.7” iPad Pro, the ProPhoto and AdobeRGB images will actually look worse than the traditional sRGB image. But if you’re on the new iPad or iMac you will quickly appreciate what a talented photographer can do with more color saturation.

The harbor image is where this effect is most obvious, but the increased saturation occurs in all the images. Highlights are subtlety stronger, contrast is better, and gradients don’t flatten out as they get brighter.

To illustrate this, I used Photoshop to analyze screenshots of the page. I created a base layer with the ProPhoto image then overlaid the sRGB sample using the difference blending mode. This setup highlighted pixels that were different between the two screenshots (which I emphasized by adjusting the levels.)

Here are the differences between the two harbor images, where it’s clear that the orange gradients are rendered more faithfully:

Harbor Difference

Some differences between the DCI-P3 display and a traditional display are obvious

But when I examined the differences in the tulip image, I saw this:

Tulip Sunrise Difference

Other times the differences between the two types of displays are much more subtle

If you look closely, you’ll see how the highlighted areas affect the tulips. But as you learned above, our eyes are amazing sensors. I think the additional detail gives our brain a better appreciation of the image even if it can’t put things like chromatic adaptation into words.

After using this iPad for a couple of weeks, I’ve realized it’s like the advances of Retina in an important way: I never want to use a lesser display again. And as with higher density, I think it’s obvious that Apple will eventually update all its products to use this improved screen technology. I can’t wait!

It also wouldn’t surprise me to see these wider color gamuts coming to the cameras in our devices. All iOS devices currently create images in the sRGB gamut, while professional gear can produce images in ProPhoto or AdobeRGB. High dynamic range (HDR) photos need a wider range of color, too.

We’re quickly reaching a point where more pixels don’t make better photos. Think about how much Apple likes to tout the camera and how better saturation improves photos. These new displays are the first step in a process where wider gamuts become a part of the entire iOS photography workflow. The number of places where your code assumes everything is sRGB will be both surprising and painful.

For more information on wider gamuts from a photographer’s point-of-view, this post analyzing the DCI-P3 display on the latest iMac has a ton of good examples.

Color Management is Hard

We’ve all seen the color management controls in Photoshop and thought “Hell no!”.

There’s no getting around the fact that color is a complicated subject: you’re dealing with both the physics of electromagnetic radiation and the physiology of our eyes and brains. The things that produce and sense color in our world are inherently complex.

For the past 20 years, we’ve had it easy. We could rely on just red, green and blue to get the job done. But as displays become deeper and smarter, that’s about to change.

We’re all going to have to face the music.

Personally, I had to confront my fears of color management in 2014 for the release of xScope 4.1. In the Mavericks release of OS X, Safari’s colors started looking different than Chrome’s. This is what I currently see in both browsers on OS X:

Safari & Chrome Color Differences

Color differences in two popular browsers: Safari (left) and Chrome (right)

One browser is using color management for the display of CSS colors, the other is not. (And don’t tell me it looks fine on your display: that’s like saying “it works fine in IE 6!”)

Besides being a big change to my web development workflow, I had to deal with these color differences in xScope’s Loupe tool. I was faced with learning about color profiles and how colors are transformed between spaces.

During this learning process, I experimented a lot and kept notes. I thought I’d do a blog post about color management, but as you’ve seen above, writing about color can quickly get out of hand!

When Apple released the iMac with the DCI-P3 display, all of the work of the WebKit team quickly came into focus. They were laying the foundations for a world with more color. And my draft folder kept getting bigger.

A Book Apart

When I reached 10,000 words, I knew I had a problem and approached my friends at A Book Apart with a proposal to write a book about color management. Luckily, they agreed that this was a topic that would benefit many designers and developers. Over the past year, that draft has been refined, simplified, and become something I’m very proud of.

We’ve strived to make a book that helps you understand color in laymen’s terms, to use color management with step-by-step instructions for popular apps like Photoshop, and guides you with the work necessary to create great looking web and native apps.

We’re on the cusp of big changes with color management in our work. A new color-gamut media query is about to drop in Safari, UIImageView and UIColor both support color profiles in the latest version of iOS, and the differences in color processing across platforms continue to widen. The timing for this book couldn’t be better.

We’re not at the point where we can announce a release date, but if you’d like to know when the book is finished, sign up for A Book Apart’s newsletter (scroll to the bottom of that page.) It will be worth the wait.

In the meantime, check out the new iPad display at your local Apple store. You’ll be looking at the future.

Twitterrific 5.14.2 Improves Direct Messaging, Adds Keyboard Shortcuts & More

April 13, 2016

By Ged Maheux

Twitterrific Direct Messaging UI

With today’s launch of Twitterrific 5.14.2, the entire direct messaging interface has been re-designed and re-engineered to make sending and receiving direct messages via Twitter fun and easy. DM’s are now styled like classic chat conversations which means you can view photos and media in-line and follow the flow of a conversation more easily. The re-design lets you search for people to start a new conversation with and even delete entire existing threads quickly and easily with a swipe.

When you tap the Direct Messages tab in Twitterrific you’re now taken to the new Inbox view where you can quickly browse recent DM threads or start a new one. Prior to this update, Twitterrific users had to find a user profile and tap the email icon to initiate a direct message, but no longer. Simply tap the DM compose icon at the top of the mail box view then tap a recent person or search for a new user to message. Tap on an existing DM thread from the Inbox to continue a previous conversation or swipe left on it to mark it as read or delete it.

Version 5.14.2 also adds an extensive list of keyboard shortcuts for use with Twitterrific that make navigating and using the app with a keyboard a breeze. Simply hold down the command key on your physical keyboard to see a list of commands that are available. Keep in mind that commands are contextual so the list changes depending upon what view you’re currently looking at within Twitterrific. Visit the Twitterrific Knowledge Base for a full list of keyboard commands for use with iOS.

Keyboard Commands in Twitterrific

We’ve also included several accessibility improvements for voice over users, fine tuned readability for tweets in right-to-left languages when small thumbnail mode is enabled, and added the ability to view either a user profile or an associated tweet from the Today View. Tapping on the name of a Today view event opens the profile of the person, whereas tapping on the message text opens the tweet itself. We’ve also made the switch from completely relative time stamps like “2d ago” to “4/12/16 3:46pm”. Twitterrific still shows relative time stamps for tweets less than 24 hours old, but then shows absolute date info thereafter.

Finally, 5.14.2 includes some very important bug fixes including one that was preventing the timeline cache from clearing itself. Over time this slowed performance of loading new tweets and scrolling the timeline. We also squashed an annoying bug that could prompt the user for Twitter account authentication from time to time.

We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s new in version 5.14.2 so be sure to visit Twitterrific’s version history page for the complete list of new features, improvements and bug fixes. Twitterrific 5.14.2 is free to try via the App Store and is universal for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and iPod touch. Advanced features such as tweet translation, ad removal, and more are available via in-app purchase.

xScope 4.2

March 17, 2016

By Ged Maheux

An update for xScope is now available in the Mac App Store and through the in-app update. xScope 4.2 features a new setting in General preferences that allows tool windows to stay in the Space where they were activated. If you do design or development in one space and email or chat in another this will come in very handy.

In addition the Loupe now features a new eyedropper icon that allows you to quickly switch the working color space as well as a new preference to highlight colors that are out of gamut. Version 4.2 also fixes a number of bugs like truncated color values in the Loupe, an improved layout of Dimensions controls in El Capitan and a host of others.

This is a free update for current users and is available now. Check your updates at the Mac App Store or, if you purchased from the website, check for updates under the xScope menu item.