Tag Archives: notification center

Auki may be the best quick reply tweak for iOS 7 (Jailbreak)

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Auki is a new jailbreak tweak from Surenix and Benno available for iOS 7. This tweak brings a native style quick reply feature to the Messages app. Along with that, Auki provides several other features including a “Silent Mode” that can be applied to individual contacts, similar to Tweetbot’s mute feature.

When you receive a message, you’ll have the ability to tap on the “reply” button found on the notification banner to pull up Auki and begin composing your response. You also have the ability to use the quick reply feature right from the lock screen by swiping across the notification. In addition to its quick reply functionality, Auki’s new message popup can also be activated within the Notification Center by swiping down from the top or with a custom Activator method.

If you’d like to see Auki in action, take a look at the video overview below:

Auki’s features (via Cydia):

auki doesn’t stop at just quick reply, it also delivers above and beyond key features like:

  • Quick compose
  • Quick reply
  • Silent mode
  • Stealth mode
  • Smart iMessage/SMS detection
  • Custom Activations
  • Video, Image/GIF support
  • Landscape mode
  • Group messages
  • Message carryover
  • Contact pictures
  • Native look/integration

Quick Compose:
auki is designed to enhance the way we compose messages without cluttering Notification Center with extra buttons/tappable fields and to access it from all Notification Center tabs. With deep thoughts, we found the best way to activate quick compose—swipe down gesture. With quick compose, users have the ability to quickly search for single or multiple contacts (for group messaging) and the ability to upload media with your messages. It’s so simple, you can do it all from the lock screen in seconds.

Quick Reply:
Before auki, we would get pulled out of an app into Messages app to answer a message. By the time we finish replying to that message, we would forget what we were doing. Now with auki, users have the ability to quickly tap the newly added “Reply” button to quickly reply. With the help of smart SMS/iMessage detection, you will not get charged for standard SMS rates from outside your country. From the quick reply view, you get to see your contact picture, what email or number he/she sent the message from, upload media with your quick reply and away to go.

Silent Mode:
Do you have an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend, husband, wife, friend or even a group conversation that you just want to ignore and not have to deal with? Just swipe left on the the conversation cell you want, tap Silent, and you will not hear from them until you unsilent them. When you activate Silent mode, the conversation will not play alert sounds, notification banners or vibrate your phone. This also puts you in Stealth mode so your read receipts and type indicator will be disabled for all your Silent contacts.

Auki’s compose box offers everything you’ll need to create or respond to a message. Within the dialog box, you’ll have the ability to enter a contact’s name, email, or phone number, add a photo, and launch that specific thread in the Messages app. I’ve only been using Auki for a couple of hours, but this has to be one of the best quick reply tweaks that’s currently available.

Auki is great because it provides a lot of functionality,without all of the added bulk we’ve seen in similar tweaks. Currently, Auki is not compatible with biteSMS, Messages+, or WhatsApp. If you’d like to check out Auki yourself, it’s available in Cydia’s BigBoss repository for $3.99 and is compatible with iPhone and iPod touch.


Filed under: Apps Tagged: Auki, Benno, Cydia, iOS, ios 7 jailbreak, iPhone, IPod Touch, jailbreak tweak, Notification Center, quick reply, Tweetbot

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Firefox 28 released w/ Mac OS X Notification Center support for web notifications

Firefox-Notification-Center-Mac-OSX

Firefox today released the latest version of its desktop browser for Mac, Linux, and Windows and in the process added one much welcomed feature for Mac OS X users: support for Notification Center. This means that web apps and sites taking advantage of Firefox’s web notifications feature will now also appear for Mac users in the Notification Center.

Version 28 of Firefox also introduces a few new behind the scenes improvements including VP9 video decoding, volume control for HTML5 audio/video, and a number of other fixes.

Firefox 28 for Mac is available to download from the Mozilla website now.


Filed under: Apps Tagged: download, Firefox, Firefox 28, Linux, Mac, Mozilla, Notification Center, notifications, release, support, web notification, Windows

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Opinion: When will iOS evolve beyond the static grid homescreen?

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Now that we’ve had our first look at at least an early take on iOS 8, what stands out most to me is how little the basic appearance of the iOS homescreen has changed over the years. On the left is iOS 1, on the right the recently-leaked iOS 8 homescreen.

Seven years apart, yet still essentially identical in form: a grid of static icons. Looked at in one way, that’s incredibly impressive: that a user-interface that worked in 2007 still works today. But it does make me wonder at what point the iOS homescreen will move beyond this format? 

Now, you can argue the question is unfair. Sure, Android may have its widgets and Windows Phone its live tiles, but one swipe down of your thumb in iOS opens up Notification Center, which is all live data.

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(You could also quite reasonably ask me what a complete flop of a platform like Windows Phone could possibly teach Apple – but in my view the failure of WP has nothing to do with the user-interface and everything to do with the fact that Microsoft took many years to notice that the world had gone mobile. By the time it finally woke up, it was too late.)

Perhaps there’s no particular reason for change. Apple has a long history of cautious evolution rather than radical change, and the massive success the company has enjoyed suggests that’s what its customers like.

From a usability perspective, too, it works well. Switch on your iPhone or iPad and all your most-used apps are right there in front of you. Whether you want to open an app or see your notifications, it’s one thumb press or flick away. It’s simple, quick and efficient – and if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

The evolution of iOS from 1 to 8 (based on a graphic by ios7stuff.com)

The evolution of iOS from 1 to 8 (based on a graphic by ios7stuff.com)

I’d argue there are two reasons to consider it. First, and I fully admit this is rather trivial, but when you’ve unlocked your phone multiple times a day for seven years and seen essentially the same thing, it gets a bit, well, boring. Isn’t that reason enough to consider something just a little bit more interesting? Isn’t that one of the reasons some people choose to jailbreak their phones?

Second, usability. Yes, iOS scores incredibly highly, which is one of the reasons so many people pay a premium for it, and I’m certainly not arrogant enough to suggest anything radical in the way of change. But let me ask a question.

Think about all the times in the day when you pick up your iPhone. Of those, how many times are to check something and how many times are to do something? I’d suggest we pick up our phones to check a message or appointment or the weather way more often than we do so to open an app.

So if checking live data is the primary usage, and using apps secondary, shouldn’t that be reflected in how the OS works? Shouldn’t displaying live data be the initial view, swiping that away to access our apps?

My initial thought was that the live data should therefore be the homescreen. But that still requires a swipe. So perhaps instead the live data should be on the lockscreen. Switch on the phone and instantly see your next appointment, traffic to the airport, the status of your flight, a preview of your last text message … all the things, in fact, that currently appear in the Notification Center.

That already happens in part, of course. We see the most recent notifications on the lockscreen:

lockscreen

But there’s not room for many notifications there, and not all updated data gets displayed there. So here’s my thought …

Put all the Notification Center data onto the lockscreen. Make it more visually interesting, and create a more efficient layout for that information, so we can see more of it at-a-glance rather than having to scroll. Especially with the expected larger display on the iPhone 6, there’s no reason we couldn’t fit a dozen pieces of data on there in a readable form. Then unlock your phone to get to your apps, just as now. A small change that would make a big difference to both usability and appearance.

There are privacy implications to this, of course. We might not want all our alerts and data updates available to anyone who picks up our phone. But that’s just a matter of making it configurable, choosing what data does and doesn’t get displayed on it, exactly as we do with the existing Notification Center.

Am I on the right track here? Perhaps you agree that it’s time for a change, but you don’t like my particular suggestion? Or maybe you think we should leave well enough alone and keep things as they are? Let us know by taking our poll, and sharing your thoughts in the comments.


Filed under: AAPL Company, iOS Tagged: Android, Apple, Evolution of iOS, iOS, iOS 8, iOS 9, iPad, iPhone, Microsoft, Notification Center, Windows Phone

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iOS 8: Apple considers Notification Center + Messages tweaks, removing Game Center app

iOS 8 App Tweaks

Besides adding new Maps, Healthbook, and iTunes Radio applications, Apple plans to enhance and refine the functionality of some of its current pre-bundled applications and features for iOS 8. Here is a list, provided by sources, of some of the refinements Apple is considering for select applications and system functions in iOS 8:

- Notification Center: Notification Center, the translucent drop-down menu for managing alerts may be simplified. In iOS 7, Notification Center includes a “Today” view, “All” Notifications view, and a “Missed” Notifications view. In iOS 8, Apple is considering reducing the panel to solely include the “Today” and “Notifications” views.

Notification Center

The new “Notifications” view would combine all notifications with missed notifications, making the overall experience simpler. After acquiring the team behind the app Cue last year, Apple has likely been working on adding additional pertinent information to Notification Center, but it is uncertain if those enhancements will be ready this year for iOS 8.

- Inter-app communication: Apple is said to be working on and testing functionality that would allow apps from the App Store to better communicate. This is known as an “XPC” service in the developer world. An API is being developed for apps to be able to share data. For example, a future photo editing application could have the ability to push the edited content for upload via the Instagram or Facebook apps. The debut of the API has been in development for the past couple of years, and it had been removed from the launch version of iOS 7 last year for unspecified reasons. With that in mind, it is plausible that Apple could, again, choose to hold back the functionality.

- Voice Memos: Apple plans to move around some of the controls in the Voice Memos application to be more visible. Some iOS 7 users have complained that it is unclear which controls in Voice Memos need to be clicked to play recordings, and iOS 8 will fix this.

Messages

- Messages: Apple is said to be considering adding the ability for Messages threads in iOS 8 to automatically be deleted. The options for auto-deleting of threads on a user’s local device are said to be removal after a month or after a year. The functionality is being integrated in order for the iOS Device storage space to not be clogged up by old Messages threads, which is a common problem among iOS Device users with old backups or dated hardware. The auto-deletion will be optional, so users who never want their threads disappearing have nothing to worry about.

- Game Center: Sources say that Apple is considering removing the Game Center application from iOS and OS X. Instead of having the (little-used) Game Center app, the functionality will solely be found inside in games that have integrated the social gaming service. Just last year, Apple completely redesigned the Game Center app for iOS 7 to remove the green felt and casino theme from the Scott Forstall era. Yesterday’s leaked screenshots did, however, show the Game Center icon.

- CarPlay: While iOS 7’s version of CarPlay exclusively works over the Lightning cable, Apple is testing versions of iOS 8 that can conduct CarPlay (in certain vehicles) over WiFi. The lines up with Volvo saying that its CarPlay implementation will work wirelessly in the future. Of course, Apple has been testing WiFi CarPlay for sometime now with iOS 7, so perhaps the functionality will be pushed back once again.

In addition to the in-app tweaks, Apple has been working to speed up iOS 8 in comparison to iOS 7. Applications are said to launch more quickly, close more quickly, and overall system navigation is said to feel much smoother and more stable. Apple sped up animations and improved stability in the recent release of iOS 7.1, but the enhancements in iOS 8 are said to go a bit further.

Of course, Apple’s official introduction of iOS 8 is still a few months away, so the company’s plans can and likely will change at any time before WWDC.

Succeeding iOS 7, Apple’s “new beginning” for mobile software, iOS 8 will be the first major update to provide several refinements to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch software under the watch of design head Jony Ive and engineering lead Craig Federighi.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: App Store, Apple, craig federighi, Game Center, iOS, iPhone, IPod Touch, Notification Center

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The making of Writing Aid — behind the scenes of app development

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I released Writing Aid to the App Store today. Due to the glaring conflicts of interest in reviewing my own app for 9to5Mac or even having my colleagues review it, I thought instead I’d give some insight into the creative and development process behind the app. If you are looking for a more traditional review, please check out this writeup over at MacStories.

As a finished product, Writing Aid is best described as a dictionary app that also works in reverse. However, it didn’t start that way. For a while, I have been annoyed by the offerings on the store. Most apps are bogged down with gimmicky extras like ‘Word of the Day’ and such and many have been abandoned by their owners (which means they aren’t updated for iOS 7 either). When I’m writing, I don’t want distractions. I want to be able to type a word in a box and get a definition.

So, this is what I had in mind initially. A blank screen with a search box. This driving vision is how I think about creating an app from a blank slate. Everything else revolves around this unique selling point. If someone asked me for advice on building an app, this is what I would say: Get one key focus locked down in your mind and work to make that happen. Through development, I keep checking that I haven’t lost track of this goal. To make an analogy to magic, you start with the effect then work backwards to find a methodology.

However, I knew instinctively that a blank-screen-and-a-text-box wouldn’t be enough on its own. The App Store is too crowded to succeed on simplicity alone. You need a decent set of features. I knew that adding features whilst sticking to my simple vision was going to be hard, however.

I brainstormed for a while about what I could do. Adding synonyms felt logical. Most apps on the store today make you go to a completely new screen to see synonyms, usually through a tab interface. But a tab-bar was not going to fit my vision of a single-screened app. I wanted to put the synonyms on the same screen. Initially, I just put a list of related words below the definition. This kept everything on one screen but I realized I had solved one problem by creating another: this ‘one screen’ was now really tall.

I wasn’t gaining much convenience by making users scroll more. This left the app in limbo on my Mac for a few days because I couldn’t think how to proceed. Then, one day, on the news I saw the ticker running along the bottom of the video. Somehow, this clicked the developer part of my brain into gear and I knew I could use this for my app. iOS 6 had a great implementation of a ticker view with the Stocks widget in Notification Center. I tried to match Apple’s behavior as closely as possible.

I think the result was amazing. The view is small, but fits its purpose. You can see about three synonyms at once but the fact that it autoscrolls compensates for this. Users can just passively watch suggestions pass by, but vitally it doesn’t interrupt application flow. The synonyms view doesn’t get in the way if you are just looking for definitions — it can be simply overlooked.

The headline feature of Writing Aid, the reverse lookup, was a late inclusion. This next bit is going to sound cheesy — I apologize. As I was scrolling the synonyms view, it dawned on me that a list of synonyms is just words that share a meaning. If you can make the definitions database searchable, you only need one hit to get a complete list of synonyms (as once you find one match, you can just do a synonyms lookup on that hit word to complete a set). For now, I’m not handling this backend stack myself but this is something I’m considering for the future.

I prefer handling the client-side too …. I enjoy creating front-end stuff much more. This includes the bouncing animation for the word list. Taking inspiration from the Siri ‘Some things you can ask me’ screen, words falls from the top of the screen, overshoot and then rest in place. Springy animations look great and — with iOS 7 — they are really easy to code too. I spent many hours tweaking the damping and velocities to perfect it. This animation turns a bland list of words into something interactive — you want to touch it. It adds playfulness to something that could be very dry.

All that’s left is finalizing the color scheme and the fonts. I say that tongue-in-cheek of course. This process isn’t easy, but it’s more trial and error than anything in my opinion. I experimented with different styles until I got it right. I ended up using a deep purple color and ‘Gurmukhi’ as the body font (as is standard with iOS, the UI is set in Helvetica). My direction with color was something not blue and not orange; purple seemed reasonable. Typesetters will probably hate that choice of typography — I’ll admit I don’t know what’s good and what’s not. I chose what I thought was readable and looked good.

dictionary-app-icons

Some of the icons of Writing Aid’s competition.

The final stage is icon design. This is how I always work … settle on a name at the start and create an icon at the end. The icon should embody the app, not the other way around. I am a terrible artist, so I worked with Olli Wiegner on the asset design. I briefed Olli to focus on the purple and avoid magnifying glasses at all costs. Following through the purple was vital; tint colors are the main way apps can distinguish themselves in iOS 7. I didn’t want magnifying glasses because that icon has been used to death across the dictionary apps already on the Store.

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Olli initially had the idea to combine the W and A into one stroke. I liked the idea of combining the diagonal lines but I was worried people wouldn’t get it. If it wasn’t explained to you that it was a combination of the two letters, it just looked like a random squiggle. I suggested adding a gap and it resulted in the optically deceptive icon you see in the shipping app. If you come at the icon from the right, the W is dominant. If you come from the left side, the A is recognized most clearly. It’s a cool effect. The separation looks a bit silly when big but this is necessary to make the icon look good when scaled down on users’ Home Screens. If it wasn’t that wide, it would be incomprehensible to the eye when small.

I submitted the build to the App Store on the 16th of February and it got approved on the 23rd. Today, it’s available on the App Store for everyone to try. I hope you like it. I’ve put some promo codes in the comments to get the app for free, if you’re fast.

You can find more information about the app here. Writing Aid for iPhone is available on the App Store for 99¢.

[Ed. Note: We discussed how best to handle an app by one of our writers. There is no way we could objectively review it so we decided to give a background on its creation to give developers and folks considering development a "behind the scenes" view of the process of creating an app.]


Filed under: Apps, iOS, iOS Devices Tagged: App Store, Apple, iOS, iPhone, MacStories, Notification Center, Siri, Synonym

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