The Breakroom

Keeping A Spooky Eye on iPulse

October 29, 2015

By Ged Maheux

iBall iPulse Jacket screen shot

The recent update to our venerable OS X system monitoring utility, iPulse, has been receiving rave reviews. iPulse lets you track what’s happening under the hood of your Mac in a single, elegant and infinitely adjustable desktop window. One of our favorite iPulse features are customizable appearances called jackets.

Today we’re releasing a fun and creepy jacket just in time for Halloween called iBall. iBall includes Retina graphics (see what we did there?) and looks great sitting on your Mac’s desktop, staring blankly back at you. To install iBall, simply download and expand the jacket then drop it on iPulse’s dock icon to set the new visual appearance.

iPulse is a must-have for anyone who likes to keep tabs on their Mac’s inner workings and is available from the Mac App Store. Be sure to follow @iPulseApp over on Twitter for the latest news on jackets, tips & tricks and more. Enjoy and happy Halloween!

Cultivating a New Willow App for iOS

October 20, 2015

By Ged Maheux

Willow_Answering

Evolving a popular app from version 1 to version 2 is always a challenge, and so it was with the recent update of the Willow app for iOS. Willow connects users around the world via meaningful conversations, posed by simple questions.

The Iconfactory was charged with updating the popular 1.0 version of Willow, modernizing both its look and performance. It was a development effort that took over 3 months to complete and made use of our team’s full range of expertise, from design and coding, to back-end engineering and testing. Building on the groundwork we laid in V1, the second major release included developing all-new interactions, adding rich visual details, and implementing features like group conversations and a re-designed home timeline.

The new timeline presents questions from Willow users in a new and engaging way and features rich media thumbnails, parallax scrolling, swipe to answer or dismiss, as well as the new up-voting feature that surfaces popular questions quickly. When composing new questions, users can customize the question’s appearance with over 450,000 custom images from Pixabay, a fun new way to make questions come to life in Willow.

Willow_iPadQuestion

At the heart of improvements in Willow 2.0 was the inclusion of group questions. Previously, users could only pose single questions which were answered on a one-on-one basis by individual Willow users. The new Group tab allows users to ask questions and receive answers across the entire Willow user base. People can up-vote questions they like and respond to questions on either a local or global level. All of this happens in real time. It is a wonderful way for people to connect and have meaningful conversations about topics that span a huge range of interests with others around the world.

Another key goal with Willow 2.0 was to simplify and improve the Branches user interface. Branches is the communications hub within the application where users can keep track of who’s responded to their questions, see and manage new group questions, and initiate personal chats with users. As the depth and scope of Willow’s feature set expanded, Wilow’s Branches UI grew tangled and badly needed pruning.

Willow_Answering

The resulting re-design is a concise, tab-based interface that clearly lays out the three types of content that can be navigated in Willow – Questions, Groups, and Chats. New content is constantly updated and can be favorited or searched at will. Questions and chats are now clearly organized and can be answered directly from within Branches or quickly removed using familiar iOS swipe gestures.

Taken all together, Willow 2.0 represents a complete overhaul from the original app, one that helps bring it to the forefront of modern iOS user interface design and development. The new feature set and rich visual appearance have already helped Willow gain new users and connect more people than ever before. For more information about Willow’s redesign, visit our portfolio of work. Willow is available from the App Store today for free, be sure to check it out!

A Clicker for your Ticker

October 13, 2015

By Craig Hockenberry

It’s well documented that I love my Apple Watch and use it daily to keep track of my activity. While the built-in apps do a fantastic job of keeping track of your health, I wanted something different.

One of the things I noticed early on was how a simple number like “Longest Move Streak” could be a motivating factor. You want that number to keep going up and will do crazy things like jump on an exercise bike with a glass of whisky at ten minutes to midnight so you can burn 20 calories and make your goal. (Yes, I really did this. And I’m not alone in my obsession.)

We’re currently at the beginning of an El Niño cycle: this means the Pacific Ocean has been warm and inviting. I wanted to track a “higher level” goal on my watch: the number of swims I’ve done during the season. The result is Clicker:

Clicker

The app is just one big button. Every time you tap your watch face you get a little haptic feedback and the counter goes up. If you force press, you can decrement or reset the counter. There is also a watch complication that lets you see the current count on your watch face. Seriously, it’s that simple.

But with this simplicity comes the same motivation that you see in the Activity app. Every time you flick your wrist you’re reminded of a number that’s important to you. It could be the number of days since you quit smoking, the number of pounds you’ve lost on your diet, or the number of times you’ve taken your watch in the ocean. Trust me, it works so well that I’ll probably be swimming in cold water just to hit my goal of 100 swims!

Clicker is FREE with no in-app purchases or other crap. If you really want to show your thanks, make sure to try out one of our other apps. Enjoy!

A New Life for iPulse

October 7, 2015

By Craig Hockenberry

With Apple’s announcement of System Integrity Protection in El Capitan, I feared that end had come for our beloved iPulse app. This app for tracking system status was originally released in 2002 for use with Mac OS X 10.3. It was also my first Cocoa app and taught me a lot about how to do modern Mac programming.

Over the years, there have been many FREE updates that made iPulse work well with the latest changes in OS X. Thankfully, the engineers at Apple provided new APIs that allowed apps to query El Capitan while in the “rootless” mode. This also meant that code which hadn’t been touched in over a decade needed to be replaced. It was a lot of work, but I couldn’t stand the thought of a Mac without iPulse!

We also took this chance to modernize the user interface, including updating icons and graphics for the Retina display. We also paid close attention to resource usage so that iPulse 3 won’t affect battery life adversely. The app also comes with new built-in presets that let you customize the interface however you’d like:

iPulse on El Capitan

iPulse 3 is available exclusively on the Mac App Store for only $10. The App Store built into OS X makes it easy to install and update iPulse wherever it’s needed.

With luck, iPulse will be keeping an eye on what your Mac is doing for another decade!

Twitterrific 5.13.2 Lands with iOS9 Improvements

September 21, 2015

By Anthony Piraino

Ollie makes himself at home in iOS 9 with the latest release of Twitterrific. Version 5.13.2 now supports iPad split-screen and slide-over multitasking in iOS 9. We’ve also added the option to reply to mentions and DMs directly from push notification banners in iOS 9’s notification center. Other new features include the ability to send and receive long direct messages.

But we didn’t stop there—we’ve also included improvements to tweets with images, account switching, VoiceOver accessibility, and more! Take a look at Twitterrific’s version history page for all the details, then head over to the App Store to try Twitterrific for free for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and iPod touch. Advanced features such as tweet translation, ad removal, and more are available via in-app purchase.

Masters of the Small Canvas

September 18, 2015

By Corey Marion

A short but sweet piece by John Pavlus was posted today over at Bloomberg Business. It features some comments by our own Gedeon Maheux and our good friends and former Iconfactory pixel engineers Louie Mantia and David Lanham, as well as a few others in our field. It is a quick, interesting read about the evolution of icon design. Check it out!

xScope on the Big Screen

September 15, 2015

By Craig Hockenberry

As every iPhone developer knows, you don’t really understand an app’s design until you see it on the device. We’ve all been fooled by text or controls that looked just fine on your Mac’s simulator, but elicited “What the heck were we thinking?” when run on the phone.

With the release of tvOS, there’s going to be a new version of this phenomenon, just bigger. Our tool xScope can help.

In the 4.0 release, we added a new AirPlay Mirroring feature. Like many developers, we had our fingers crossed that native app development would be coming to the Apple TV and were hopeful that this feature would come in handy some day. We were thrilled to be proven right on September 9th!

Any file or document you’re working with on the Mac can automatically be transferred to any Apple TV and projected onto a full-size 1080p screen using AirPlay. Here’s what it looks like while I’m working in my living room:

xScope Mirror running on a TV screen

This means you can work directly in Photoshop, or any other editor, and changes to your 1920 × 1080 layers will be presented in real-time to the big screen. All you have to do in xScope is check a box in preferences and select the name of the Apple TV you want to use:

xScope preferences for AirPlay Mirroring

After enabling the feature, just drop a file on the xScope Dock icon or connect to Photoshop using the Mirror tool and your pixels will immediately start getting bigger!

Even if you’re not working on a tvOS app, this trick is a great way to review designs in a conference room: it’s much easier than everyone hovering around a laptop and it keeps dirty fingers off of your beautiful screen :-)

Twitterrific 5.13.1 Fixes Accessibility Bugs, Improves General Usability

September 1, 2015

By Ged Maheux

Today’s release of Twitterrific is an incremental but important one that fixes several annoying bugs and improves overall usability of the iOS app. Muffling and muting rules now apply to the content of quoted tweets, which should help keep your timeline clear of TV spoilers and unwanted tweet topics. In addition, viewing a tweet’s conversation returns more results including quotes of the original tweet, making threads more useful. We’ve also improved both the hash tag and username autocompletion features significantly. When you type a hash tag or username the app tracks which ones you like to use the most and presents those items first when autocompleting. This makes getting at them a breeze when composing tweets.

We’ve also fixed a host of accessibility related bugs that made using the app frustrating at times for the hard of seeing. Controls behind the sidebar can no longer be accidentally activated, we’ve improved focus reliability after favoriting, retweeting or performing other actions as well as fixed a few other Voice Over related strangeness on iPad. In general, v 5.13.1 is much more Voice Over friendly so if you use Twitterrific with Voice Over, we strongly recommend you update today.

All of these improvements, plus fixes to right-to-left languages like Arabic, improved kerning of the San Fransisco font on the iOS 9 beta and more can be found on Twitterrific’s version history page. Twitterrific 5.13.1 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.

Yep

August 6, 2015

By Craig Hockenberry

While we may not have contributed in our normal way, we were happy to learn today that some of our work made it into Windows 10!

Windows Bridge for iOS is an open source project that makes it easier for iOS developers to target their products to the new operating system from Redmond. This work was based on our own Chameleon Project, written by Sean Heber.

It’s good to know there’s still a little factory inside Microsoft’s latest product!

Introducing Flare 2.2

July 21, 2015

By Travis Zuker

Today we’re updating Flare, our award-winning photo editing application. We’re also updating its companion app for iOS, Flare Effects with support for the new filters and features in the Mac app.

Important: We’re aware of the problems with Flare on the El Capitan public beta and working to fix things. Flare 2.2 does not address any issues you may be having with the pre-release software.

We’re excited to debut two all-new filters today – Colorfilm and Timestamp.

The Colorfilm filter is designed to emulate the characteristics of saturated color film, but it uses a new approach to achieve better results than what’s been available in the past. The Flare Blog describes this unique approach in detail.

Before applying the Colorfilm filter:

And after applying the Colorfilm filter:

colorfilm-example-with

The effect is subtle, but notice how the wood plaques become warmer, the details in the woodgrain become more pronounced, and background colors gain a bit more vibrance.

The Timestamp filter simulates the time or date stamp feature found in older film cameras. We’ve tried hard to preserve the vintage look and feel for those of us that remember those bygone days.

The full size view of the photo

Here’s a closeup:

Time stamp closeup

We hope you enjoy these two new filters and other new features in Flare. For an overview of everything that’s new in Flare 2.2 check out the Flare Blog.