In the end, it was one tiny feature that turned the tide. I’d been using the popular jailbreak app IntelliScreenX (ISX) for ages, and I loved it. A replacement for the Apple-designed Notification Center, it not only made the notification drop-down panel available at the lock screen—where it would, arguably, do the most good—it also expanded it, adding panels that brought in full Facebook and Twitter feeds, an RSS reader, and an email Inbox. It was glorious.
On top of that, an early update brought a huge additional benefit: Messages+, the SMS Quick Reply/Quick Compose tweak cooked up by ISX developers Intelliborn, was baked into the app free of charge. It gave users a simple way to write and reply to SMS from anywhere iOS could go, including the lock screen.
It all worked well, and it looked good doing it—two things that don’t always go together in the world of jailbreak apps. But then a funny thing happened: I found that I rarely used most of the features that made ISX what is was. When I wanted to browse Facebook or Twitter, I just unlocked my phone. When I wanted to read my mail, I did the same. What I really used ISX for was as a way to control the information that was waiting for me when I did unlock my phone: I used it to delete new mail via the lock screen interface, or clear notifications without needing to open an app. Still, it worked, and I used it, even if only for those more basic needs.
But I also used it to act on push notifications—from games, for a new Twitter DM, etc—and here is where I ran into my little problem.
A bit of background: one of the main reasons I choose to jailbreak my iPhone is to have better control of the lock screen and statusbar. I spend a lot of time theming there, adding informational and aesthetic elements that make the lock screen easier and more pleasant to use. On any given day, I’ll probably glance at it more than any other screen on my phone—I want it to be enjoyable. So while I used ISX, I chose to keep it hidden, accessed only by pulling down from the statusbar, just like Apple’s notification panel. After acting on whatever notification I had to deal with, I could just slide ISX back up off the screen and return to my own lock screen.
However (and here we finally get to that nagging little thing that drove me from using ISX) if I acted on any notifications from ISX—if, for example, I used it to launch a game when my turn was announced, then played my turn and locked my phone—the pull-down panel would still be visible the next time I unlocked the device.
It drove me crazy.
I searched in vain for a setting to change, I asked the developers for help on Twitter, only to find out that ISX was set up this way by design. It made no sense to me, and still doesn’t: why make something persistently visible, when the entire premise behind the app is that it replaces the Notification Center, something that is persistently hidden? If it were a choice for users to make, I could understand, but there was no option to change the behavior. And so, every time I interacted with ISX, I returned to find my lock screen—the one I’d jailbroken for in the first place—defaced.
For a time, I lived with it, simply sliding the ISX panel up and off my lock screen when I needed to, but eventually it wore me down. Tonight I reinstalled David Ashman’s app Lockinfo, a similar Notification Center replacement (actually, it predates Apple’s version) which I had long used prior to the launch of iOS 5 and the introduction of IntelliScreenX. The bugs and growing pains that had initially drove me to ISX in the early days of iOS 5 seem to have been ironed out (and Lockinfo’s styling has come a long way since the old days), and while there are certain parts of ISX that I sorely miss—namely, the Messages+ integration*—I can happily report that Lockinfo, like always, is letting me decide when and where it’s visible.
It’s good to be back.
(And for anyone still reading, here is a breakdown of the two apps from the folks at iMore.)
*Regarding the Messages+ app: Intelliborn includes M+ functionality in the purchase of the IntelliScreenX package ($9.99, vs. $7.99 for the standalone M+ app) but the only way to enable it is to have ISX installed. For someone who has purchased an ISX license to use only the Messages+ functionality, it would be necessary to buy the standalone M+ app separately. Since I already own a license for BiteSMS I’ve gone that route for now (see image above), but given the choice I prefer the lightness of Messages+. By comparison, Bite often seems clunky and over-designed. Intelliborn, if you’re listening, I hope you’ll consider allowing ISX license holders to use the Quick Compose and Quick Reply functionality of M+ without needing to enable the full ISX suite, and without having to buy a separate license.