Tag Archives: notification center

Apple reportedly reverses decision on rejecting iOS 8 calculator widgets

Notification Center widgets in Today view

Update: Thompson has verified the policy change.

We learned yesterday from developer James Thompson that Apple had informed him that the calculator widget for his app PCalc, which had already been approved and even featured by the App Store, would have to remove the widget from the app to remain available for sale. The reason Apple gave, according to Thompson’s tweets, is that “widgets on iOS cannot perform any calculations” which his PCalc calculator widget obviously did, but it seems Apple has since reversed that decision, according to iMore and TechCrunch. TC reports that an Apple spokesperson has confirmed that PCalc’s widget can now remain as well as any other similar calculator widgets.

But now we’re hearing that Apple is changing its course. The PCalc app and widget will remain in the App Store, and all calculator-type widgets will be allowed as well, an Apple spokesperson has confirmed to us.

It’s not clear from how high up the Apple rank the original decision to reject Thompson’s PCalc widget came, but Thompson got the impression the decision was made from high up during his experience.

Regardless of where the decision was made, the facts remain that PCalc’s calculator widget was not only already approved, but PCalc is currently featured in the App Store for its widget.

PCalc isn’t the only prominent app to face losing its app widget or risk being pulled from sale. Shortly after iOS 8’s release last month, a rather robust Notification Center widget app called Launcher was pulled from the App Store due to misuse of Notification Center widgets.

Other developers have expressed concern both publicly and privately over what functions can be built for iOS 8’s Notification Center and what Apple will reject. Apple describes widgets under its extension programming guide, but as you can see, its description leaves room for interpretation.

App extensions in the Today view are called widgets. Widgets give users quick access to information that’s important right now. For example, users open the Today view to check current stock prices or weather conditions, see today’s schedule, or perform a quick task such as marking an item as done. Users tend to open the Today view frequently, and they expect the information they’re interested in to be instantly available.

According to Thompson’s recent tweets, he has not personally heard from Apple on the decision reversal.

PCalc (and its Notification Center widget) is available in the App Store for $9.99.

Update: Thompson writes: “Just had a phone call from Apple – decision has been reversed, no changes required to PCalc’s widget. Thanks to everybody for their support!”


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: iOS 8, Notification Center, PCalc, widgets

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Apple making iOS 8 Notification Center a bit less useful by banning calculator widgets

Pcalc-today-widgetDeveloper James Thomson of popular calculator app PCalc announced today via his Twitter account that Apple is forcing him to remove the app’s Today Widget due to a restriction that iOS widgets “cannot perform any calculations.”

Apple’s new Today Widgets feature in iOS 8, which allows developers to build functions into the system-wide Notification Center, does have some limitations that Apple outlines in developer documentation. For example, Apple encourages developers not to use Today Widgets for multistep tasks: If you want to create an app extension that enables a multistep task or helps users perform a lengthy task, such as uploading or downloading content, the Today extension point is not the right choice.” There doesn’t, however, appear to be specific references to apps that perform calculations in Apple’s developer guidelines.

It isn’t the first time Apple has asked developers to remove widget functionality that interferes with its vision of the Notification Center feature.

The PCalc app remains on the App Store, but its developer said today that Apple has asked that the current PCalc widget be removed.


Filed under: Apps Tagged: App Store, iOS 8, Notification Center, PCalc, Today widget, widget

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Facebook adds Safety Check feature to iOS app to reassure family & friends during disasters

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Facebook has added a nifty new feature that hopefully you won’t need to use too often: notifications of nearby disasters, and a one-touch means of letting family and friends know that you’re ok … 

If the Facebook app detects that you’re in the general area of a disaster like an earthquake, the Safety Check feature provides an alert through the Notification Center and offers a choice of two buttons: one saying that you’re safe, the other saying you’re not in the affected area. Your friends then see a reassuring message in their newsfeeds.

If you’re with friends or family at the time, you can also mark them safe on their behalf.

Facebook updated its iOS app just yesterday to take full advantage of the larger screen sizes of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. The separate Facebook Messenger app was updated for the same reason last month. It also appears that Facebook plans to allow person-to-person payments through the app.

Both Facebook and Facebook Messenger are free downloads from iTunes.


Filed under: Apps Tagged: Android, Facebook, Facebook iOS app, Facebook iPhone app, Facebook Messenger, Facebook Platform, iOS, iPhone, iPhone 6, Notification Center, Twitter

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iOS 8 Roundup: The best weather widgets for Notification Center

iPhone 6 weather widgets

When Apple introduced iOS 7 with an overhauled design for the iPhone and iPad software, it replaced the weather widget showing current temperature and weekly forecast introduced with iOS 5 with a text summary of the day’s weather conditions. This weather summary includes an icon for the current weather condition as well as a text description like ‘mostly cloudy’, but it tends to give you the high and low temperatures of the day and not the current temperature like Apple’s former weather widget.

Luckily, iOS 8 allows developers to create third-party widgets including – you guessed it – weather widgets with current temperature and forecast. Since iOS 8 was released last week, I’ve been trying a variety of apps with included weather widgets, and below I’ll share with you what I’ve discovered so far.

Out of the box, iOS 7 and iOS 8 include the default widget (seen below) in Notification Center‘s Today view with a summary of the day’s weather conditions, but as I mentioned before, that typically does not present the current temperature and certainly doesn’t present the 5-day forecast many expect to see from Apple’s previous weather widget.

Since iOS 7, Apple has reserved that information for the default Weather app, but it’s not nearly as convenient as pulling down Notification Center to glance at the current temperature (and the iPad doesn’t have a default Weather app like the one found on the iPhone and iPod touch).

Apple Weather widget

Each app below is available for at least iPhone, and iPad users can install these apps and take advantage of the same widgets for Notification Center if iPad versions aren’t available.

Forecast+ ($0.99) (Included in $4.99 bundle of productivity apps)

First up is Forecast+, an app that’s really only a widget, which was a very popular recommendation when I surveyed Twitter for an iOS 8 weather widget replacement. The other apps listed here are full-fledged weather apps with available widgets while Forecast+ is more of a weather utility.

Forecast+ does have an app, but it’s used to toggle how and what the the widget displays. For example, you can set your current location or another location for weather tracking and toggle between Celsius and Fahrenheit depending on your preference. Forecast+ also offers up four different ways of viewing the widget as you can toggle between compact and expanded as well as choosing to always show the 5-day forecast or not.

Forecast+ expanded with forecast Forecast+ with forecast Forecast+ expanded Forecast+

The Weather Channel (Free)

Next is The Weather Channel for iPhone. It’s widget displays the current temperature and a text summary of the weather conditions. It’s more similar to Apple’s own approach (although you do get current temperature), but it also included links to videos you can watch within TWC’s app, which I didn’t find ideal personally.

The Weather Channel

Yahoo Weather (Free)

Yahoo Weather is another popular third-party weather app for many people, and its Today view widget closely resembles the design of its iPhone app with sparse text and simplistic icons.

With it you get current temperature, the day’s high and low temperature, and a brief forecast ahead, but you also get images from Flickr thrown in. These photos are usually from around your location if any are available and can be very nice images, but for a Notification Center widget, I found they add too much weight to something intended to be quick if that makes any sense.

Yahoo Weather

NOAA Radar Pro ($0.99) (Included in $2.99 bundle of weather apps)

The NOAA Radar Pro app (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is straight to the point and offers up a glance at the weather for the next few hours as well. With it you get the current temperature and weather condition as well as the high and low of the day. Another benefit of NOAA Radar Pro is the app allows you to control the location used by the widget. This means if you’re traveling out of town but want to keep an eye on your weather back home, NOAA Radar Pro has you covered.

NOAA Radar Pro

My Alarm Clock ($0.99) (Included in same $2.99 bundle of weather apps)

This next one isn’t primarily a weather app, but it included a quick weather widget as if it were one. My Alarm Clock is an alternative to the default Clock app with support for interactive notifications and a variety of other clock features.

Its widget, though, included the current temperature and weather condition as well as the current wind speed. It’s a bit robust with the alarm clock feature if you’re only looking for a weather widget, but it’s an option.

My Alarm Clock

WeatherPro ($2.99) (Included in $6.99 bundle of weather apps)

WeatherPro is another weather widget that allows you to set the location you prefer to track. In addition to presenting the current temperature, WeatherPro’s widget offers you the current time of day, wind speed and direction, precipitation data like inches of rain per hour, and barometric pressure. You also get an icon and description for the current weather condition.

This weather widget is pretty straight forward is offers some additional details you may be interested in, but it’s value is mostly in its companion full-fledged weather app.

WeatherPro

Raincast ($1.99)

Raincast is a different type of weather widget. It doesn’t show you to current temperature (although its badge can) and you don’t exactly get the 5-day forecast. Instead, Raincast shows you just that, the precipitation forecast over a 6-day period using a visually attractive bar graph and percentages.

You do get glyphs for how the weather conditions of each day as well, but they’re not highly detailed as the chance of rain each day is this widget’s focus. I discovered it while researching weather widget replacements on the App Store, but I think I’ll keep it around for now.

Raincast

Weather Station by Netatmo (Free)

This widget won’t do anything for you unless you have a Netatmo Weather Station, but Weather Station users can use the widget with the corresponding app for viewing localized weather data captured by the device. For most people it won’t be the ideal weather widget replacement since it requires owning the product, but it’s especially worth considering for anyone obsessed with tracking weather data.

Weather Station by Netatmo

Weather Underground (Free)

Weather Underground’s widget in Notification Center is an addition since first publishing yesterday. The app features not one, but two widgets that have just been released. One is a very attractive graph with the date, time updated, temperature, chance of rain, and more. The other is a weather map showing the radar in your area with a quick link to jump into the Weather Underground app. Definitely worth checking out.

Weather Underground

For now, I’m keeping Forecast+, WeatherPro, and Raincast added to my Today view in Notification Center for quickly accessing relevant weather data at a glance, but each weather widget above is worth checking out to see which you prefer. Let us know below if you have a favorite weather widget for your iPhone or iPad on iOS 8 that you would recommend, and check out our additional  roundups including the best third-party keyboards, app extensions, and other widgets for making the most out of iOS 8!


Filed under: Apps Tagged: Apple, Forecast+, iOS, iPad, iPhone, Notification Center, Raincast, Today, Weather Channel, Yahoo Weather

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iOS 8’s Notification Center gets a new useful widget: ESPN SportsCenter

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The official ESPN SportsCenter app has been updated with support for an iOS 8 Notification Center widget, and it seems awesome thus far. The widget allows you to get quick access to scores from your favorite team (go Lakers) and provides access to ESPN’s radio stations. The update is free on the App Store.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Apple, ESPN SportsCenter, iOS, iPad, iPhone, New York Times, Notification Center, SportsCenter

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Skype update for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus coming next month

Skype 5.4 Skype_5.0_iPhone_profile

Yesterday, Skype released an update for its iOS app to include iOS 8-optimized notifications and other goodies. However, it has no support for the higher-resolution iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus displays. That will change next month, per a Skype spokesperson:

We’re currently working on an update to Skype for iPhone that scales for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus screen sizes, which we plan to release in the next month.

Unfortunately, that sounds like quite a while. Hopefully the updated version isn’t just bigger, but more optimized for the larger 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch panels.


Filed under: iOS Tagged: Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPhone 6, iphone 6 plus, Microsoft, Notification Center, Skype

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