Apr
1
2014

A new app called AnyFont and developed by Florian Schimanke allows you to install custom fonts on iOS. By leveraging iOS 7′s capability of installing fonts through a configuration profile (Apple’s documentation here), AnyFont can take fonts as standard TTF and OTF files from the app’s own storage and install them on iOS so other apps such as Apple’s iWork suite will be able to use them in the font picker.

I was able to test the app (which was first covered by TUAW in early March) and talk to Schimanke, who confirmed that AnyFont “does exactly what you could do on a Mac with the Apple Configurator”; while installing a custom configuration profile may raise security concerns, he added that it’s possible to look at the contents of the profile and see that the one created by AnyFont contains only font files that the user wants to install.

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One of iOS' biggest shortcomings is the inability to attach multiple files to an email message. Caused by Apple's resistance to bringing a visible filesystem to iOS or building inter-app communication features to access files outside of an app's own sandbox, the problem is epitomized by antiquated limitations such as the Open In menu and the aforementioned lack of multiple attachments in Mail. Interestingly, these two limitations are exactly what Multiple Attachments, developed by Jan Mazurczak, uses to send email messages containing attachments that aren't just photos or videos.

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For The Guardian, Craig Grannell writes about many of Apple’s new animations for iOS 7.1, and what that means for people who previously got motion sick. While iOS 7 had lots of nice visual touches, bouncy animations and parallax effects made some customers feel physically ill when using their iPhone. In addition to numerous visual changes that aim to reduce physical illness in iOS 7.1, Apple has also been hard at work making iOS even more accessible by reintroducing button hints.

Josh de Lioncourt at Macworld also runs through some new additions in accessibility that should help those with low-vision or motor impairments. For example, the camera button can be turned into a switch that turns on head tracking, reducing the need for a separate device.

Mar
13
2014

Paper is one of our must have apps, and it’s recently been updated with iOS 7 in mind. While the app’s design and personality free it from many of iOS 7’s visual styles, popovers and menus have been refreshed with a flatter, cleaner look.

Two additional small but important changes to Paper’s drawing tools should make drawing detailed characters, things, and environments much easier than before. When using the loupe to zoom in, the drawing tools you use will adjust their size as well, giving you finer control over all of the smaller details. And lastly, drawing dots has become much easier, with long presses generating bigger dots.

Paper is free to download in the App Store, with tools available for sale in the app individually or as a bundle.

In early January, after collecting keyboard shortcuts for Apple apps and system features in iOS 7, I created a dedicated page for keyboard shortcuts in third-party iOS 7 apps.

I've been tweaking and updating the page for the past three months, and it now includes 20 apps that have implemented keyboard shortcuts. The page has a custom sub-domain at ios-shortcuts.macstories.net, and it comes with an index of apps at the top to easily see supported apps and click to instantly jump to a specific one. Each app has links to iTunes, website, and additional documentation if available.

If you've developed an iOS app with external keyboard integration, let me know on Twitter or over email and I'll add it to the list. Check out the page here.

Previous owners of Verbs, an instant messaging app for iOS, will find a free update on the App Store that readies the app for iOS 7, while introducing a slew of new notification options, support for Jabber, and integration with Dropbox for sharing files and photos in chat. Verbs has also added a couple of read later options for sending links to Pocket and Safari’s Reading List.

As conversations take place outside of the conversation view, the status bar will flicker when new texts appear, much like status updates in Tweetbot or Mailbox. Inside the conversation view, Verbs has added some small contextual changes to message bubbles, changing their color when they’re delivered, and adding the option to use shapes to indicate your buddy’s availability status.

Dropbox integration with the app works out of the gate without a lot of setup. If you have Dropbox installed on your iOS device and are already logged in, you can pick a file and share the link with a friend. If you setup your Dropbox account, you can add files as well.

While I still don’t like how you switch between conversations views throw a Safari-like carousel, the remainder of Verbs feels fresh, and the app has always maintained a decided simplicity for simply sending and receiving messages from common services. If you don’t have Verbs yet, you can give it a try for $2.99 from the App Store.

I was surprised when Apple announced that iOS 7 would run on 2010's iPhone 4, mostly because the OS seemed to make use of graphical effects, transitions, and animations that looked like great candidates for poor performance and hiccups. Indeed, iOS 7 on the iPhone 4 (and to an extend, the iPad 3) was, in my experience, insufferable: animations were slow, scrolling would often drop frames and stutter, and everything felt generally sluggish.

Ars Technica's Andew Cunningham has run tests to measure the speed improvements of iOS 7.1 on the iPhone 4. The changes are noticeable, but, more importantly, the update makes the OS fluid and snappy – usable, at least. iOS 7.1 cuts the execution time of animations on all iOS devices, but the difference for the iPhone 4 is even more apparent.

It is a good thing that Apple is still supporting a four year-old device with the latest version of iOS (albeit with missing features), and I'm glad that iOS 7's possibly one and only major update focused on making performance acceptable on older devices for the future.

As reported by Doug Thompson, a change in iOS 7.1 now allows iBeacon-enabled apps to look for beacons and fire off notifications even when closed and after a device reboot:

After opening an iBeacon app we hard closed it: not just putting it into the background tray but swiping it closed entirely. The phone still detected beacons and sent a message through the lock screen, something which in the past was reserved for apps that were at minimum running in the background tray.

The functionality even works if you reboot your device: after you power down your phone and start it up again, it will continue listening for beacons even if you don’t open up the app again.

As Doug notes, this is an important change for how iBeacon works with iOS apps – it sounds like it's now more stable and it should always work, removing the need to make sure an app is running.

For retailers, museums, and any other place with iBeacon support, this means that launching an app the first time should be enough to have it always ready to listen for beacons in the future (unless the app gets uninstalled of course). And because the technology is based on Bluetooth LE, the impact on battery life should be minimal to non-existent. This seems like a great change for iBeacon.

Mar
10
2014

Apple Releases iOS 7.1

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Apple today released iOS 7.1, the company’s first major update to iOS 7, which was released in September 2013. iOS 7.1 has been in testing with registered iOS developers since November, and it brings a variety of bug fixes, performance improvements, faster animations, CarPlay, user interface changes, and minor tweaks.

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