iOS 6 GUI PSD for iPhone 5 Now Available

With every new major version of iOS or new device from Apple, design studio Teehan+Lax releases a free iOS GUI PSD. The PSDs, downloaded millions of times in the past few years, have helped designers and developers mock up their apps and iOS designs using Photoshop, while relying on graphic assets that look just like interface elements and controls of iPhones and iPads.

Today, Teehan+Lax released its new iOS 6 GUI PSD for iPhone 5:

This version, iOS 6 for iPhone 5, is a bit different than previous version. Those of you who have downloaded and used these files have probably noticed they’ve become quite bloated. As fast as our computers are today, they still get pretty sluggish when working in a document that contains tens of millions of pixels with hundreds of shape layers. This time around we focussed on making the file a bit more usable. It’s smaller in file size and has a reduced canvas making it quite a bit more manageable. We did this by removing some of the more obtuse elements.

Weighing at 13 MB, you can download the iOS 6 GUI PSD here.

iOS 6 Concepts: Multitasking and App Store

The past couple of days has seen a fresh round of new iOS 6 concepts surface online. Specifically, Rene Ritchie at iMore posted a series of mockups showing possible improvements for the current (poor) state of App Store search on the iPhone, while The Verge featured a forum post by member Sentry about multitasking on iOS.

For the App Store, I’ve already largely discussed why I think the new interface represents a step backwards in several areas. Especially on the iPhone, discovery is hampered by a new card-based layout for search results that’s slow and makes terrible use of information desnsity on our device’s screens. Rene offers some interesting solutions:

Taking it one step further, Apple could implement the portrait interface they use for app categories and present a few horizontal list views. The first could present search results filtered by keyword relevance, the second by rating, the third by how many “friends” have the app, the fourth by recency of release, etc. So, for example, a search for “Twitter” could result in the official Twitter for iPhone app showing up first for relevancy, Tweetbot first for friends who have the app, and Flurry for most recent.

Filters are interesting. With iOS 6, not only does Apple have data from Genius and Game Center, they also have direct integration with Facebook and Twitter. I’m not sure this is a path Apple could go down with for such a core feature of the system, but it’d be curious to see, say, how a Facebook-enabled App Store could recommend apps that my friends are liking and using. I’m not sure about the privacy implications, but the appeal of such a functionality could be big for the average user who just wants good app recommendations.

On The Verge, forum member Sentry has an elegant and very Apple-like take on how the multitasking tray could be improved. Practically unchanged since iOS 4, Sentry argues that iOS 6 should make better use of the extra screen space of the iPhone 5 for multitasking. Instead of proposing the usual Mission Control-like UI we’ve seen in dozens of mockups, he says that users are very entrenched into the simplicity of the multitasking tray: it shouldn’t change too much.

In an attempt to offer more functionality and features, they lose the core simplicity of the switcher which made it particularly usable to begin with. Some concepts use the entire screen space to display a grid of app previews, others only double the switcher height to include an extra row of icons. While both offer additional functionality, they actually hinder the flow and ease of app-switching. Whether it’s a full screen grid solution or displaying two rows in the switcher instead of one, both require more from your thumb than Apple’s original solute while tending to be overly brash in appearance as well.

I agree about the app switcher: it’s very easy to use, and, while geeks like us would like to have more options for “real” multitasking, typical iPhone users don’t have any problems with switching apps. I’m still not completely sold on the concept of live app previews for the switcher, but I know (at least I very much hope so) that Apple won’t change this part of the experience unless they come up with something better. An improvement that’s useful, not just different for change’s sake.

Check out the concepts by clicking on the source links above. Also recently: a great concept on how to enhance Spotlight by giving it Siri-like features based on text input.

After the release of iOS 5 last year, several users complained that the Newsstand app (effectively a “folder” for magazine and newspaper subscriptions) couldn’t be hidden from the Springboard. Because of its nature of glorified folder, users couldn’t even put it away in an existing folder on the Home screen. However, people soon figured out a trick to make the Springboard hide Newsstand.

This year, well-known Cydia developer Filippo Bigarella has released a simple Mac app to hide Newsstand from any iOS device with a single click. I’ve just tested the app personally on my iPhone 5 running iOS 6, and it works as advertised. Even better, the app doesn’t require a jailbreak at all, as it leverages the existing “folder trick”, albeit making it easier to access.

Simply download StifleStand, and open it on your Mac. Make sure a device is plugged in and recognized by the app. Hit the Hide Newsstand button, and watch as Newsstand gets put into a folder called “Magic” on your Home screen. It literally takes one second to complete.

Please note: Just like on iOS 5 last year, opening Newsstand from a folder will crash Springboard. Use this tweak only if you don’t use Newsstand.

You can then rename the folder and put more apps into it. One bug I’ve noticed is that, because Newsstand isn’t meant to be put into a folder, if the folder is closed you won’t see the smaller preview icon for Newsstand. You can avoid this by placing more apps into the folder, leaving Newsstand at the end, so you won’t see the empty spot from your Home screen.

StifleStand works on any device and it’s super-easy to use. Download it here, and watch a demo video by iDownloadBlog here.

Oct
4
2012

Since the release of iOS 6, I’ve been looking for apps and services to get Google Maps functionality back on my iPhone and iPad. While not as integrated as the previous Maps app of iOS 5, I’ve settled on a combination of various tools to access Google Maps for those times when Apple Maps fail me (unfortunately, most of the time in my area). (more…)

Dissecting The iOS 6 App Store

Justine Pratt has published (via TUAW) a very thorough overview of the new App Store in iOS 6.

The new AppStore, especially the cards, was really designed for the iPad and the faster processor of the iPhone5. Finally the stores on both devices are common, which should help increase the familiarity when browsing both stores. On older devices, the icons and graphics are slow to load and the cards are slow to scroll on the iPhone. This situation is only temporary, as new devices are released and adopted.

In my iOS 6 review, I took an extensive look at the App Store, its new features, and its most apparent shortcomings; Justine does a much better job at carefully analyzing every single section and change in App Store layout and category organization. I also learned a few tidbits from her overview, such as the new positioning of the “App Support” button next to reviews.

Interestingly, we both came to the conclusion that the new App Store seems to really be optimized for the iPad in terms of layout. In the past few weeks, following the release of iOS 6, I’ve heard quite a few people saying that the opposite was true — that the cards layout was meant for the iPhone first, and eventually brought to the iPad with a larger UI design.

Overall, the App Store still has several visible and deeply annoying bugs that hinder the performance of search, Genius, and Purchased History. Apple still hasn’t fixed many of these, and the improved speed of the iPhone 5 only partially contributes to making the browsing experience slightly better.

As I wrote in my review, there are still some noteworthy additions and changes for developers in the new App Store, so make sure to check out Justine’s article for a detailed analysis.

iOS 6 and Developers

Over at TidBITS, Matt Neuburg has posted a clear and concise overview of what iOS 6 means for third-party developers. Among the mentioned technical changes, he talks about UICollectionView:

The major new widget that will have the biggest impact on app interfaces is the collection view. A collection view is like a table view on steroids. A table view is the scrolling column of cells commonly seen in any master–detail app where a list must be displayed; Settings, Mail, and Music are familiar examples. A collection view breaks the bonds of the single vertically scrolling column, so you can expect, in short order, to see horizontally scrollable rows of data, multicolumn tables, and grids of information.

While web-based, some of the conventions of the new App Store in iOS 6 (horizontal-scrolling lists, grids) could be replicated with UICollectionView. I’d argue that many of the changes brought to the App Store are actually making some parts of search and discovery worse, but that’s not the point.

What matters is that, with each new version of iOS, developers are given more powerful tools to build new apps and refine existing ones. As I wrote in my piece about iOS 6, Apple understands “the importance of a healthy developer ecosystem that sets iOS apart from the competition”.

To get a good overview of the changes for developers in iOS 6, I recommend reading Matt’s article.

I like to think that sometimes Apple takes a look at the crazy ideas people share about iOS and OS X on Twitter, and picks a couple that they think could be neat additions to the OSes.

In April, I tweeted the following idea:

iMessage should be able of automatically switching international keyboards based on the recipient’s language.

The idea came from the fact that I’m constantly switching between the Italian and English keyboards on my devices. For most of my online communications, I use the English keyboard; for my Italian friends, family members, and acquaintances, I obviously use the Italian one. Wouldn’t it be neat if iOS could remember the last keyboard used with a contact, so that you wouldn’t have to switch keyboards every time?

Like I said, I like to think sometimes Apple listens. As @SiVola told me earlier today on Twitter, the Messages app of iOS 6 is now capable of automatically selecting an international keyboard based on the last one you used in a conversation. So, for instance, when I open a conversation with Chris, the English keyboard will be the active one; when I text my girlfriend, the Italian one will be automatically selected. No need to switch using the “globe” icon.

I tested this with various keyboards on iOS 6, and I can confirm it works. I tested on the latest version of iOS 5 to make sure as well — this is new to iOS 6 (and I hope it’s not a bug!); in my tests, it took 1-2 sent messages for iOS to “remember” the correct keyboard to use. Furthermore, Apple implemented this functionality in a way that it won’t affect the keyboard you have selected at a system-wide level: after I’ve sent a text to my girlfriend, I can open Tweetbot, and the keyboard will be in English just like I left it.

Of all the minor additions and refinements of iOS 6, this is now my favorite one. It’s the kind of detail that, to me, makes the experience more natural and fast without complicating my workflow with new menus or options to learn.

Perhaps Apple didn’t read my tweet. Or maybe someone did. Whatever the story is — thanks for this feature, iOS team.

A Reasonable Take On Apple’s Maps Problem

Mike Dobson of TeleMapics has published a balanced, reasonable, and informative article on the various technical issues that Apple is facing with the new Maps on iOS 6.

The issue plaguing Apple Maps is not mathematics or algorithms, it is data quality and there can be little doubt about the types of errors that are plaguing the system. What is happening to Apple is that their users are measuring data quality. Users look for familiar places they know on maps and use these as methods of orienting themselves, as well as for testing the goodness of maps. They compare maps with reality to determine their location. They query local businesses to provide local services. When these actions fail, the map has failed and this is the source of Apple’s most significant problems. Apple’s maps are incomplete, illogical, positionally erroneous, out of date, and suffer from thematic inaccuracies.

Alongside his sarcasm-free explanation of many aspects of building a mapping solution, Mike offers some suggestions that are worth considering as well.

It’s a recommended read, which I suggest checking out here.

Apple: “The More People Use Maps, The Better It Will Get”

In a statement sent to AllThingsD, Apple said they are working hard to improve the customer experience with the new Maps of iOS 6. In particular, the company notes that “it’ll get better” with time and usage.

We launched this new map service knowing it is a major initiative and that we are just getting started with it. Maps is a cloud-based solution and the more people use it, the better it will get. We appreciate all of the customer feedback and are working hard to make the customer experience even better.

In my review of iOS 6 yesterday, I dedicated a section to Maps, comparing its features to those of iOS 5′s Google Maps product in Italy. Following yesterday’s launch, people have increasingly noticed that Maps, unlike Google Maps, is lacking in several areas like business listings, satellite views, Flyover accuracy, and more. Screenshots of Maps discrepancies with reality and plain-wrong data are all over the web.

In our Reading List in the sidebar (on the right), we’ve collected some of the best Maps-related articles from around the web.

There’s no denying that Maps will get better with time and usage. But unlike Siri, which Apple also said will get better with time, people have become dependent upon accurate maps for their livelihood. If I really had to nitpick, though, I, too, am curious to know how actually Apple plans to improve Maps without allowing customers to actively suggest other options.

Personally, I wonder how users who had (and will have) real-life issues like this would react to Apple’s statement.