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Posts tagged with "iOS 9"

Sidefari Adds iPhone Support with Updated Safari View Controller Extension

Sidefari's new iPhone extension.

Sidefari's new iPhone extension.

I first covered Sidefari by Francisco Cantu last month, noting how such a clever idea had arisen from Apple's limitations in the multitasking framework of iOS 9 for iPad:

Sidefari essentially acts as an on-demand Safari View Controller built into an app that does nothing else, and that's been made available for Split View. In its simplicity, I find Sidefari to be an ingenious idea for an app that uses a built-in technology to work around a limitation of Apple's multitasking design in iOS 9. By using Safari View Controller, Sidefari comes with a series of Safari features available by default (such as autofill and Reader); for Safari users, this is a superior alternative to using Safari and a browser like Chrome in Split View, as third-party browsers can't access user data and settings from Safari.

I've been using Sidefari extensively on my iPad: while other third-party browsers exist with support for Split View (notably, both Google Chrome and the Google app can be used to browse webpages alongside Safari), Sidefari brings the convenience of having an instance of Safari that looks and behaves like the system browser. This convenience applies to design and security features, but also to everyday tricks like holding the address bar to open a URL or built-in Reader mode.

Yesterday, Cantu updated Sidefari with iPhone support and other minor improvements on the iPad. On the iPhone, the app now offers an action extension to open any link modally in Safari View Controller from any app. This is reminiscent of Browsecurely in that you can summon Safari views from apps that don't support them– like Twitter's official app – and it works well. On the iPad, the app has two new options: the address bar now doubles as a search box for Google search so you can type any query in it, and you can set a Home page to open with an icon in the main view. Both additions are quite handy if you want to save a little bit of time when using Safari and Safari View Controller simultaneously (the latter doesn't let you tap the address bar to search manually, nor can you access bookmarks with it).

Sidefari has become one of my must-have utilities on the iPad, and I'm glad it's on the iPhone too. Sidefari is available at $0.99 on the App Store.


Apple Releases iOS 9.2

Apple released iOS 9.2 today, bringing a host of bug fixes, improvements to system apps, and optimizations to Safari View Controller, the system's new unified web view based on Safari.

Introduced in iOS 9, Safari View Controller enables third-party apps to implement a native web view that presents webpages with the same engine and interface of Safari, accessing features such as iCloud Keychain and auto-fill. In iOS 9.2, apps updated for the new OS will be able to implement a swipe gesture from the left edge of the screen to dismiss Safari View Controller (a feature that had already been done in a custom fashion by apps like Tweetbot) – a more comfortable way of dismissing it than tapping a 'Done' button at the top of the screen. Also new in iOS 9.2, Safari View Controller's refresh button can be long-tapped to reveal additional reload options (just like in Safari) and action extensions can be used without issues on the currently open webpage. This will allow extensions such as 1Password and Workflow to run in Safari View Controller, which wasn't possible before.

Among other improvements in today's release, Apple lists minor but welcome changes to Apple Music (create a playlist when sharing a song, new download indicators for offline songs), a new Top Stories section in Apple News, the ability to 3D Touch in iBooks to peek and pop pages from the Table of Contents, and Mail Drop support in Mail for large attachments.

iOS 9.2 is available now via Apple's Software Update.



Sidefari Lets You Browse Two Webpages at Once with iOS 9 Split View and Safari View Controller

In my review of iOS 9, I noted how new iPad multitasking features lacked an important functionality that had long been available to desktop users: a way to view multiple screens of the same app side by side. Whether it's documents, conversations, or email threads, there's a clear utility in being able to split the same app in multiple instances, but that's currently not possible in iOS 9.

I'd argue that the ability to view multiple webpages at once would be even more useful than the aforementioned examples. And that's exactly what Sidefari, a $0.99 iPad-only app released today by Francisco Cantu, wants to provide a solution for.

Sidefari uses Safari View Controller to let you open a second webpage in Split View on your iPad. Unlike Browsecurely, Sidefari doesn't display Safari View Controller on the top of the app you're currently using – it's been designed, as the name suggests, as a side companion based on the Safari web views introduced with iOS 9. Whenever you find yourself needing to open two webpages and view them simultaneously, you can invoke Sidefari from the Slide Over app picker and enter Split View. At this point, you have some options: you can use the Sidefari extension to send a webpage from the main app to Sidefari (which needs to be in Split View already to open the URL directly), or you can paste a URL into Sidefari and open the webpage from your clipboard. Sidefari can also hold up to 50 items from your history in the app, but this can be disabled in the Settings.

Sidefari essentially acts as an on-demand Safari View Controller built into an app that does nothing else, and that's been made available for Split View. In its simplicity, I find Sidefari to be an ingenious idea for an app that uses a built-in technology to work around a limitation of Apple's multitasking design in iOS 9. By using Safari View Controller, Sidefari comes with a series of Safari features available by default (such as autofill and Reader); for Safari users, this is a superior alternative to using Safari and a browser like Chrome in Split View, as third-party browsers can't access user data and settings from Safari.1

Sidefari is a clever implementation of Split View and Safari View Controller, and it's only $0.99 on the App Store.


  1. They can, however, offer tabbed browsing, which Safari View Controller doesn't have. ↩︎

Browsecurely Brings Safari View Controller Anywhere with an Action Extension

Typically, you wouldn't be able to do this in the Twitter app for iOS.

Typically, you wouldn't be able to do this in the Twitter app for iOS.

One of the best details of Peace, Marco Arment's original Ghostery-based Content Blocker for iOS 9, was the ability to summon Safari View Controller anywhere with an extension. As I wrote in my review:

Open Unrestricted and Open in Peace are interesting, as they leverage Safari View Controller to temporarily disable (Unrestricted) or use Peace for a link passed to the extension. This means that, besides Safari and apps that support Safari View Controller, you can enjoy the benefits of Peace from the system share sheet. Even if an app doesn't integrate with Safari View Controller – such as Twitter, but there will be many others – as long as they can share a URL with native extensions, you'll be able to use Peace's Content Blocker and Safari View Controller. This is a genius way to circumvent apps that don't support the superior Safari View Controller experience in iOS 9, and I bet that other developers will be "inspired" by it once they see it.

Developed by Martin Gordon, Browsecurely is a new app for iPhone and iPad that lets you open Safari-based web views in every app that supports the iOS share sheet.

The idea is extremely simple: in spite of the many advantages of Safari View Controller (which include privacy features, performance gains, Content Blockers, and an experience consistent with the system browser), there are still some apps –like Twitter's official client – that prefer not to implement it, using their own web views independent from Safari. Browsecurely offers a way out from those web views: as long as you can share a webpage's URL with native extensions, you'll be able to open the selected webpage with Safari View Controller using the Browsecurely action extension. By doing this, you'll simply be opening a URL in Safari View Controller without leaving the app you're using; current Content Blocker, Reader, and other Safari settings will carry over from the browser automatically.

I was waiting for someone to replicate Peace's Safari View Controller extension in a dedicated app, and it doesn't surprise me that this basic functionality is available for free with an optional In-App Purchase to support the developer. Browsecurely has no additional features – it's just a way to open links in Safari View Controller with an extension.

I have to wonder if, eventually, Apple will make a Safari extension themselves, allowing users to always open links with Safari View Controller as a system-level option available in every app. In the meantime, Browsecurely comes in handy to quickly view webpages in Safari View Controller from the share sheet, and it's available for free on the App Store.


Emojipedia’s iOS 9.1 Emoji Overview

Fantastic overview of all the new emoji in iOS 9.1 by Emojipedia's Jeremy Burge:

In addition to emojis approved in Unicode 8.0 (mid-2015), iOS 9.1 also includes emoji versions of characters all the way back to Unicode 1.1 (1993) that have retroactively been deemed worthy of emoji presentation by the Unicode Consortium.

Every emoji that has been approved by Unicode is included in iOS 9.1; no matter how obscure, redundant, or outdated.

The article includes this bit about the Symbols category of the updated emoji keyboard:

Symbol emojis are grouped by color in iOS 9.1, which not only looks pleasant, but also makes finding the correct emoji easier.

Like millions of other people today, I'm having fun discovering the new emoji in iOS 9.1. Jeremy's overview makes for a great starting point.

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Apple Releases iOS 9.1 with Over 150 New Emoji, Smarter Live Photos

Apple released iOS 9.1 today, the first major update to iOS 9, first released in mid-September.

In addition to various bug fixes and performance improvements, iOS 9.1 brings over 150 new emoji with full support for Unicode 7.0 and Unicode 8.0 emoji, and a smarter Live Photos implementation. On the iPhone 6s, Live Photos will now sense when you raise or lower your device, so it'll stop recording the video associated to the Live Photo.

iOS 9.1 is available now through Apple's Software Update.


Teddy Svoronos on Keynote’s iOS 9 Update

Teddy Svoronos on changes to Keynote for iOS 9:

When using Split View, only the “main” app can use features like the microphone, camera, and, most relevant to this post, video out. This means that if you’re using Keynote as your main app while Airplaying or using a dongle to project your iPad onto an external screen, only the Keynote presentation will be visible to your audience. This means you’re free to keep OmniOutliner (pictured), Notes, or any other Split View-enabled app on the side of your screen while presenting. As someone who prefers to have my full outline available to me rather than slide-specific Presenter Notes, this is huge.

That does sound like a welcome improvement indeed. A month in, it's clear that the biggest advantage of iOS 9 for iPad is the increased cooperation between apps. The updated iWork suite is a good example of this.

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