Version 4.0 of The Iconfactory's tool for measuring, inspecting, and testing layouts and graphics on OS X has been released today, adding powerful new features for designers and developers.
We've covered xScope on MacStories before, and the new release adds an Overlay feature to check alignments and mockups over a browser (useful when working on responsive designs) and a Text palette to “search, decipher, and reformat text and character glyphs”. xScope works with Retina displays and many of the app's existing functionalities have been redesigned and updated to have faster performance, more flexibility (just take a look here), and Yosemite support.
I'm no designer, but I've used xScope before and I know it's a solid app; I've downloaded the trial from The Iconfactory's website, and the changes in this version look fantastic. For a limited time, you can get xScope 4.0 at $24.99 (50% off) on the Mac App Store.
One of the many announcements from Apple’s last week was Metal, a new low-level framework for creating GPU-accelerated advanced 3D graphics while reducing CPU overhead. In short, Metal is a technology that will grant game developers bare-to-the-metal access to squeeze maximum performance out of the A7 processor for better graphics.
Apple will provide an easier and integrated way to create screencasts for iOS apps with the upcoming iOS 8 and Yosemite software updates, using a Lightning cable and QuickTime Player on OS X. As reported by Benjamin Mayo at 9to5Mac, the feature is primarily meant to let developers create App Previews for the improved App Store launching with iOS 8, but it’ll also come in handy for users willing to capture videos of iOS apps for screencasts, reviews, and other video content.
From the Tokens blog:
Originally launched in 2012, Tokens lets developers generate promo codes from iTunes Connect easily, without logging into the website using a browser. The app can keep track of codes that have been redeemed by users, and, personally, I'm always happy to come across Tokens links as they instantly open iTunes' redeem page and I don't have to copy & paste anything.
The new Campaigns feature sounds interesting and easier for developers to keep track of, and I like the idea of Passbook support for WWDC. With the update, Tokens is also getting a new pricing model and different limitations in the trial version. You can read the details here.
There’s no denying that WWDC 2013 was one of the most exciting in recent years - however, for all the new technologies Apple announced the thing that struck me most - the thing that excited me most as someone building things for the Apple ecosystem - was a single phrase in many of the sessions: “Also available on the Mac”.
A thoughtful article by Nik Fletcher, who takes a look at the state of developer technologies for iOS and OS X. Better developer tools typically equal less time spent working around OS limitations or outdated web interfaces, resulting in leaner development workflows, more apps, and faster updates – which is what everybody wants. Nik offers some great suggestions.
As first noted by 148apps' Jeff Scott and reported by MacRumors, EA has launched a campaign to redeem promo codes for In-App Purchases on the App Store for Real Racing 3, a racing game for iPhone and iPad. The campaign runs through August 1, 2014, and it lets customers download "free gold" for the game that would otherwise be available at $1.99 on the App Store. Read more
Following OS X, iTunes, and Podcasts for iOS, Apple released a long overdue update to the iTunes Connect app today, bringing a new iOS 7 design and wider support for media sold on the iTunes Store.
If you're a developer or content creator, you can now enjoy a redesigned app (nothing special, but nice icon) and view stats for music, movies, and TV shows available on iTunes.
iTunes Connect 3.0 is available on the App Store.
Created by Alex Novosad from development studio Substantial and released today as a beta on GitHub, Choosy is a new third-party framework that wants to (at least partially) improve upon iOS’ lack of a default app selection mechanism.
Great collection of motion patterns in iPhone user interfaces by Grant Liddall (via iOS Dev Weekly and collected from Capptivate):
Steer clear of distracting or even confusing the user with too much animation, Subtlety is key. It should be used to maintain or help focus. Not take it away. Also don’t over elaborate aspects such as screen transitions. This becomes increasingly frustrating to the user over time. Or if they are simply left waiting for what seems like “forever”.
Since iOS 7 came out, I've seen developers who failed to acknowledge the new OS' reliance on context through motion and, on the other end of the spectrum, those who implemented too many heavy-handed transitions and animations that always become gaudy and detrimental to the user experience after a few days. Even Apple is guilty of this with some of the animations throughout the OS.
As usual, it's hard to balance the abundance of available tools with good design, but the best iOS 7 apps are the ones that meaningfully rely on motion when necessary, not just because it looks good or new.