Earlier this month, Facebook announced a new interface for select Android devoices dubbed ‘Facebook Home’. The interface puts the focus on interactions with your Facebook friends, featuring images and updates from your Facebook stream and the ability to chat from anywhere without needing to open a specific app. Today, Facebook updated its iPhone and iPad app to incorporate some of these new features.
Version 6.0 of Facebook hit the App Store this afternoon. One of the most notable features of Facebook Home is “chat heads,” which are tiny head shots used to represent your friends. On the iPhone and iPad, chat heads pop up when you receive a new message in the Facebook app and they remain on your screen even as you navigate around the app. Tapping on a chat head brings up a chat window over whatever else you’re browsing in the app.
Also new are stickers to spice up your chats with cute images. In the description of what’s new in version 6.0, Facebook notes that both chat heads and stickers will be rolled out to users “over the next few weeks” so don’t get discouraged if you don’t have these new features yet. I downloaded the update today and have the chat heads feature but I don’t see any of the new stickers yet.
If your’e curious about this whole Facebook Home thing, check out Facebook’s promo video embedded below. Note that the video shows Facebook Home on Android devices but it will still give you an idea of how chat heads work.
The Iconfactory’s Twitterrific 5 for iPhone and iPad debuted in December (our review), featuring a gorgeous interface that was a complete redesign compared to its predecessor. However, it lacked the ability to mute users, a useful “pro” feature that hides users you don’t want to hear from temporarily. In an update last week, Twitterrific 5 gained this feature with a unique and brilliant twist.
With Tweetbot and other Twitter apps I’ve used, you can easily mute other users. This means that you won’t see any tweets or retweets by those users temporarily or even forever. It’s handy when you’re a little tired of someone’s tweets and just want to not hear from them for a little while. Or for when you really just can’t stand someone or their tweets but unfollowing them would be rude or even unprofessional. When you mute someone in Tweetbot or other apps, their tweets and retweets disappear entirely from your timeline and you have no idea if or when they’ve tweeted at all unless you specifically navigate to their profile and look.
(Yes, you could argue that muting is silly and simply unfollowing someone is the most mature and reasonable option but I’d still bet many people follow at least one friend or family member who is a horrible tweeter that you just don’t have the heart to unfollow or you have a co-worker or client you can’t unfollow without professional repercussions.)
Twitterrific 5 handles muting differently. The Iconfactory calls this feature “muffling” and you can do it to users, hashtags, or domains. The unique thing about muffling is that muffled users, tweets, or domains don’t completely disappear from your timeline – they still appear in a collapsed view so that you know that they’re there but you can still read them if you want by tapping on them, which expands the view.
Here’s a video by The Iconfactory’s Gedeon Maheux showing how muffling works:
I only muffle a couple of people I follow (don’t ask, I’m not telling who or why) and I’ve found it incredibly useful to still see when they tweet or retweet with the option to see their tweets if I want. And when you muffle someone or a hashtag, there’s even a cute shushing sound effect to go with it.
Muffling isn’t the only feature that Twitterrific 5 got in the update to version 5.1 – new image services and a new font, Avenir, also made the cut along with several improvements and bug fixes.
Twitterrific 5 still doesn’t offer push notifications but this is planned for a future update. Yet even without push notifications,Twitterrific 5 is a beautiful and feature-filled Twitter app that’s worthy of your hard-earned money.
Bump, the popular file-sharing app that debuted in the App Store in 2010, has been updated with a new feature that allows you to send files on your iPhone to any computer. To send files to a computer, you simply need to tap the space bar on the computer with your iPhone while the computer’s web browser is pointed to http://bu.mp.
Bump Technologies has created a demo video showing how this works:
If you’ve never used Bump before it can seem pretty magical. How on earth can you send files to another iPhone or computer without a direct connection via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth? Bump Technologies uses the information from the sensors in your iPhone along with a fancy algorithm in their cloud servers to match up bumps between devices around the world to transfer files. Here’s the official FAQ answer on how it all works from the Bump Technologies site:
There are two parts to Bump: the app running on your device and a smart matching algorithm running on our servers in the cloud. The app on your phone uses the phone’s sensors to literally “feel” the bump, and it sends that info up to the cloud. The matching algorithm listens to the bumps from phones around the world and pairs up phones that felt the same bump. Then we just route information between the two phones in each pair.
I’ve had Bump on my iPhone since it was released but I have to admit that I’ve never had an opportunity to use it in real life. I’m sure I know people who own iPhones and have the app as well but I default to sending photos or other files via email or SMS/MMS rather than going through the “Do you have the Bump app installed?” dance with them. I’m not sure if this new feature to send files to a computer will change my behavior and prompt me to actually use Bump outside of testing for work but it’s a cool addition nonetheless.
Bump is free to download and requires iOS 4.3 or higher on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Kickstarter, the online crowd-funding platform that was launched in 2009, released an iPhone app today. Kickstarter for iPhone is free and lets you browse and back projects and keep up with any projects you’ve already backed.
Accessories for Apple products and even iOS apps have been funded through Kickstarter, including weather app Dark Sky (review) and the iPhone-compatible Pebble and Metawatch smartwatches, which each have their own companion apps, Pebble Smartwatch and Metawatch Manager, respectively.
I’ve personally backed several Kickstarter projects over the last couple of years and the new Kickstarter app makes it a bit easier to look for new projects and read updates on the projects I’ve backed. Not that it was incredibly hard to go to Kickstarter’s website before but I appreciate this kind of easier access and formatting optimized for the iPhone’s screen.
If you’re a Kickstarter user or if you’re a little curious about what new and crazy projects people are looking to fund, check out Kickstarter. My current favorite is the open source Death Star. Yes, a Death Star. How awesome is that?
Tapbots, the maker of several popular iOS and Mac apps, has made its App.net client for iOS, Netbot, free in order to “spur adoption” of the budding ad-free social network. The iPhone and iPad versions of the app will remain free for an “unspecified period of time” according to the company’s post on App.net announcing the price drop.
The price drop also coincided with the release of version 1.3, which adds support for private messaging.
App.net was created by entrepreneur and developer Dalton Caldwell. It’s an alternative to Twitter that is promised to remain ad free and flexible for developers. App.net lets users get a bit more verbose than Twitter, allowing 256 characters per post compared to Twitter’s limit of 140 characters. However, App.net isn’t free – you’ll need to shell out $5 per month or $36 per year to use App.net. In addition to posting privileges, an App.net account now comes with 10 GB of storage that can be used by client apps for file storage.
The iPad and iPhone versions of Netbotdebuted in October at $4.99 each. Netbot looks exactly like Tweetbot for Twitter though it has a different color scheme and some slightly different functionality to reflect what App.net is capable of. Since it’s a paid service and doesn’t have nearly as many users as Twitter (and it’s uncertain that it ever will), the average person probably isn’t going to be interested in App.net and a client app like Netbot. However, if you prefer a smaller audience for your musings and want to avoid the advertising that Twitter forces on its users, App.net is the way to go and Netbot is definitely an excellent iPhone and iPad client for it.
The Iconfactory’s Twitterrific 5 got an update yesterday that adds a few new features and improves existing ones. New features include the ability to see a thumbnail preview of images within your timeline and a new simplified reading mode is available in the in-app browser, but it’s the improvements and bug fixes that really make this update worthy of mention.
The full list of what’s new and changed is as follows:
Simplified reading mode for the in-app browser using Instapaper or Readability
Find tweets in all timelines via ‘History’ search (new search tab)
Image previews are displayed directly in the timeline
Photo viewer now displays images without a frame
In-app web browser now uses the entire screen on iPad
Twitterrific now loads 100 tweets while refreshing or loading more
New gesture: Tap and hold the RT icon on a tweet to quickly retweet with a comment
When user avatars are hidden in the timeline, tap on a username to open a profile
VoiceOver now uses a relative date/time on tweets instead of an absolute one
Added VoiceOver accessibility to the Load More button• Searches and Lists in the sidebar are now ordered alphabetically
Tapping outside of popup navigation on iPad now dismisses view
Visual improvements to popup navigation and views• Other minor interface improvements
Fixed an issue where empty Twitter accounts in iOS Settings could cause a crash
Adjusted scroll to top area so it’s less likely to be tapped by accident
Foreign keyboards no longer cover up the bottom of the compose screen
Fixed a bug that prevented some of your friends/followers from being displayed
Replying to your own reply no longer loses the conversation thread
Though the version number change might make you think that this is a minor update, several issues that stood out to me when Twitterrific 5 was released have been greatly improved or resolved. First, Twitterrific 5 used to only load 50 tweets at a time upon opening or refresh, which was a painfully low number for someone like me who likes to catch up as much as possible on all the tweets I’ve missed. The bump to 100 is helpful though my ideal would be 200. Second, the tap target area that triggered the “scroll to top” shortcut has been reduced so that this happens accidentally less often, which was another issue that bugged me and even reared its ugly head in my review video.
These small changes improve Twitterrific 5 much more than you might think and it’s enough for me to bump Tweetbot off my home screen and give it a go as my primary Twitter client on my iPhone 5. It still lacks push notifications though The Iconfactory states in a blog post that work on this has begun. If you can’t go without push notifications, consider the excellent Push 4.0 app (review) that will send you push notifications for Twitter events as well as for RSS feed updates and much more.
Twitterrific 5 is still on sale at its special launch price of $2.99 so you should buy it before it goes up. I expect The Iconfactory to keep improving Twitterrific and it will only get better over time.
While some things seem to slow down just before the holidays, app developers are apparently an exception if the number of major updates this week are any indication. While all of these apps are free and therefore pose no risk to your wallet, I still wanted to highlight them in case you’re considering a paid alternative that may be less functional comparatively after these updates.
Instagram, the popular photo sharing service, has updated its iPhone app with a new camera interface, the addition of a new filter, Willow, and Foursquare integration. In related news, Instagram removed support for Twitter cards, a feature that allowed Twitter’s own official apps to show thumbnail views of users’ Instagram photos within timelines, from its service. If you’re using a third-party client like Tweetbot this change doesn’t affect you. Yet, at least.
Speaking of the official Twitter apps, Twitter’s iPhone and iPad app also got an update this week, adding features that put it in competition with Instagram when it comes to pictures: filters and basic photo editing tools.
Twitter notes Instagram’s removal of support for Twitter cards in the text describing what’s new in version 5.2:
We understand that you are experiencing issues with viewing Instagram photos on Twitter. Instagram has decided to disable its integration with Twitter and as a result, photos are no longer appearing in Tweets or user photo galleries. While tweeting links to Instagram photos is still possible, you can no longer view the photos on Twitter, as was previously the case.
Why do I feel like I need some popcorn before seeing what happens next between Twitter and Instagram?
The iPhone app for Flickr, the Yahoo-owned photo sharing site, got an update giving it a new interface and – drum roll, please – filters! And, Yahoo also released a brand new iPhone app for its free email service. Yahoo! Mail hit the App Store yesterday and requires iOS 6 or later.
All right, enough about filters. Apple updated its Find My iPhone app to offer driving directions to help you get to that lost iOS device. While you may or may not have confidence in the map data, they should at least point you in the correct general direction. You’ll need to be running iOS 6 to get these directions, by the way.
If you don’t already have Find My iPhone, I’d definitely recommend that you download this free app and enable all of your iOS devices to use it. Here are Apple’s instructions on how to set it up. I’ve read severalstoriesdetailing how users found their lost or stolen iPhones or iPads with this app and service and while I don’t recommend that you attempt anything dangerous like trying to take your device back from a thief, it can be incredibly useful in any situation when your shiny bundle of Apple joy goes missing.
The Iconfactory, the company that began as a graphic design studio focused on icon design and has since branched out to iOS app development, has released a major update to its Twitter client for the iPhone and iPad, Twitterrific.
Twitterrific 5 debuted in the App Store tonight and it’s a radical departure in look and feel from its predecessors. The Iconfactory says that it’s been completely rewritten from the ground up and it does indeed feel like a totally new app. Twitterrific 5 keeps the core functions you’d expect from any competent Twitter app, allowing you to view your timeline, search for other users or trending topics, post new tweets with images or videos attached, and so on.
Beyond this, Twitterrific 5 offers a gorgeous interface and font and customization options that should please most users who want to change things up a bit.
To highlight the changes, here are screenshots from Twitterrific 4 (left) compared to Twitterrific 5 (right):
Twitterrific 5 feels much more modern and reminds me of Microsoft’s Metro design language, particularly when the Dark theme is active. It really is lovely, with excellent font choices that are all crisp and pleasing to the eye on the iPhone 5’s retina display. And if you’ve forgotten your reading glasses or need a larger font to catch up on your Twitter timeline as you burn off those extra holiday calories on an elliptical machine, Twitterrific 5 gives you nine (!) font sizes to choose from, ranging from way-too-tiny-even-for-my-20/20-eyes all the way to enormous.
Also new to Twitterrific 5 is cross-device synchronization so that you can keep track of your reading position in your timeline on multiple devices automatically. You can enable this using Apple’s iCloud service or through Tweet Marker, a 3rd-party service that The Iconfactory added to the Mac version of Twitterrific last year.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words, which means a video should be worth a whole lot more, feast your eyes on this video of Twitterrific 5 in action that I recorded on my iPhone 5:
I’ve been using Twitterrifc 5 as my main Twitter client on my iPhone 5 and iPad mini for several days now and I’ve both loved it and had moments of frustration with it. I love the interface. It’s really, really pretty. And I like the light and dark themes and the automatic switching. But Twitterrific 5 fell down for me in a few places.
First, it doesn’t load nearly enough tweets when I’ve gone several hours without checking Twitter. You can force it to load additional tweets by tapping on the ellipsis symbol that appears in the break between recently loaded tweets and older ones. But this only goes so far and I find that I’m missing tweets that would load without prompting in my regular client of choice, Tweetbot.
This limit on the tweets loaded may be a performance-driven decision, or a philosophical one driven by The Iconfactory’s view of Twitter as a real-time social network rather than one where you should be going backward in time to view older tweets. Regardless, I’d love to have at least the option to load more older tweets before I could use Twitterrific as my primary Twitter client.
Second, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve accidentally scrolled to the top of my timeline when I was just trying to switch accounts, create a new tweet, or do anything involving any of the buttons at the top. The tap target areas for these virtual buttons are too small and it’s way too easy execute the scroll-to-top shortcut.
There were a few smaller issues here and there. For example, I’d selected the automatic theme switching between Dark and Light at 7:00 pm and 7:00 am but this switch didn’t always happen and I’d had to manually make the change from time to time. Also, Twitterrific 5 lacks some “pro” features like push notifications, the ability to mute other users, the option to create and edit your Twitter lists, or the ability to save multiple draft tweets (though it does offer offline posting, favoring, and following support).
All that aside, Twitterrific is drop-dead gorgeous and lovely to use. The gestures and customization options are great and it makes Twitter feel vibrant. This will be enough for many and you can’t go wrong with Twitterrific if you’re a Twitter user looking for a beautifully-designed Twitter app that can change its looks to suit your needs and take care of Twitter basics in style.
Twitterrific 5 is available now in the App Store for a special introductory price of $2.99, so snag it now before it goes up.
While I think that we’re one of the best ways to discover new apps right here at AppShopper, I can admit that there are other perfectly good methods, even though it pains me a little to do so. One such method comes in the form of — you guessed it — an app, namely App Map by developer Ben Guild.
App Map takes a location-based approach to app discovery, showing you the most popular apps being used in your area or anywhere in the world. This app use by location is shown on the first two tabs in App Map while the third tab is where you can match the apps you have on your iPhone with those in the App Store to help improve App Map‘s database. App Map can’t get the details on the apps you’ve used recently directly from those apps, so some manual matching is needed to accurately identify them.
App Map pulls its information from other users of the app, so as more people use App Map, the more results it will yield. This is the single largest limitation of App Map as a robust app discovery tool. If you’re the only one using App Map in your area, it won’t give you anything useful in the Nearby tab and you’ll need to just focus on the Popular tab to show you worldwide information.
App Map promises that none of your private data can be accessed and that it uses a location services mode that shouldn’t negatively affect your iPhone’s battery life. App Map is free to download and though Guild wouldn’t confirm it when asked, we’d guess that it makes money through referral fees when you purchase apps linked in the app through an official iTunes Store affiliate program, which is the same way we earn money here at AppShopper.
App Map hit the App Store last month and recently got an update that added compatibility for the iPhone 5’s larger screen. It’s kind of neat to check out what apps are being used near you and around the world (at least among other App Map users) so check it out if you’re looking for a new way to find apps.
Tapbots, the maker of Tweetbot, my favorite Twitter client for the iPhone and iPad, and Netbot, an identical client for the Twitter-like upstart App.net, has released Tweetbot for Mac. Tweetbot had been released as a free public alpha in July and made it into the App Store today at $19.99, a price that’s notably higher than several competing Twitter clients for the Mac.
Because of Twitter’s recent enforcement of token limits, we only have a limited number of tokens available for Tweetbot for Mac. These tokens dictate how many users Tweetbot for Mac can have. The app’s limit is separate from, but much smaller than, the limit for Tweetbot for iOS. Once we use up the tokens granted to us by Twitter, we will no longer be able to sell the app to new users. Tapbots will continue to support Tweetbot for Mac for existing customers at that time.
Tapbots goes on to explain that the price could change if Twitter allows developers more tokens in the future and encourages users to reach out to Twitter to request this:
This limit and our desire to continue to support the app once we sell out is why we’ve priced Tweetbot for Mac a little higher than we’d like. It’s the best thing we can do for the long term viability of the product. We know some will not be happy about Tweetbot for Mac’s pricing, but the bottom line is Twitter needs to provide us with more tokens for us to be able to sell at a lower the price. We spent a year developing this app and it’s the only way for us to be able to make our money back and continue supporting it with updates in the future. Feel free to let Twitter know how you feel about it.
I’ve been using the alpha and beta versions of Tweetbot to date and just downloaded the official Mac App Store version. Its look and feel has not changed significantly from the pre-release versions and it offers several useful features for avid Twitter users and even those who manage multiple Twitter accounts. However, at $20, it’s probably not an insta-buy for many and understandably so. Comparatively, The Iconfactory’s Twitterrific and my previous favorite, Osfoora, are just $4.99. These apps are also subject to Twitter’s token limits, which may prompt these developers to revisit their pricing.
I really like Tweetbot and I have no problem paying a bit more for a useful and well-designed product that I will use on a daily basis. If you feel the same way, Tweetbot is a great Twitter client for the Mac. If not, there are plenty of other less expensive or free apps that work just as well or maybe even better depending on your needs.
If you’ve used the alpha or beta versions of Tweetbot but don’t plan to buy the official Mac App Store version, Tapbots asks that you release your tokens so they’ll be available to others, which you can do by logging into your Twitter account on the web, going to the Apps section, and finding Tweetbot in that list and clicking the Revoke Access button next to it.