Now available in Cydia, LS Frost is an iPhone 5 friendly port of an old favorite. My version resizes the original theme, but also adds a new twist: the secondary notification stack has been relocated to the top of the display so it doesn’t overlap the central display.
It’s out now in the ModMyi repo. For installation tips, have a look at the FAQ here.
For a long time, I avoided publishing my iPhone themes to Cydia—it always just seemed easier to build and use them myself. But lately they’ve been making the rounds in the jailbreak sections of reddit and iMore, and with that comes support questions. Rather than try to keep up with a bunch of different sites, I figured the time had come to let them loose into the world; publishing them to Cydia gives users a central place to reach out for support, if needed.
So over the past week or so I’ve released four themes on the ModMyi repo: ClearNotifications, ClearHighNotifications, ClearLowNotifications, and LS Nimbus Wide. Give them a look if you’re looking to change up your iPhone lock screen.
When I first stumbled across Valleygram tonight, I was really impressed with the ingenuity behind it. By drawing on both Foursquare and Instagram APIs, it’s able to deliver Instagram photos sorted first by state, then by town, and then by categories within that town (Arts, Food, Residence, etc) and finally by specific locations within each category. Within a few seconds, I was able to pull up a variety of Instagram photos shot at my father’s favorite downtown pub.
Developed by Jeff Hobbs (a friend of a friend; I discovered his site via Facebook) it feels precisely like the sort of thing the Internet was made to do—and I’m still really impressed by it—but one thing made me a little uneasy about it: I didn’t know anyone in those pictures, and I’d guess they had no idea how easy it was for me to see them.
It’s an issue that has come up in similar ways before, most notably with the Girls Around Me app, which used the Foursquare API and publicly viewable Facebook information to give users a map of (and information about) nearby women. In that case, Foursquare pulled the app’s privileges after some bad press.
I don’t think Valleygram is doing anything explicitly harmful, but it does make it amazingly easy to look in on people’s lives, with each photo then linked to an Instagram account. It’s an important reminder about privacy in the Internet age; despite hearing complaints about Facebook’s privacy policies just about every other day, many of us still don’t give much thought to our own accounts. After seeing some of what gets pulled into the site—besides the usual drunken documentaries, there are also personal photos taken inside private residences, college dorms, and other semi-private areas—one hopes that at least a few people will be spurred to rethink their settings.
Recent updates to Facebook’s Pages app for iOS (used to manage pages for businesses, fan pages, etc) have produced many app store reviews complaining about persistent problems with the login function. Specifically, a lot of users are complaining that it forces them to log in again every time the app is opened.
While I’ve seen that behavior as well, it’s a wider login issue that concerns me now. Until recent updates, it was possible to use the Pages app separately from the standard Facebook app—perfect for a situation where a business may want to give its employees access to the business page (to post updates, etc) without also giving them access to snoop through the page administrator’s personal Facebook account.
That is no longer possible. To use the Pages app now, the admin must not only install the regular Facebook app on the same device they want to use Pages on (a shared office iPad, for instance); they also need to keep themselves logged into the regular app. This is the key and deal-breaking difference for use in a small business environment—an admin can now no longer delegate page updates to other staff without also giving them wide open access to the admin’s own personal Facebook information.
The only ways around this are to either make everyone in the office an admin (unacceptable from a security standpoint, and pointless anyway as not everyone necessarily has a Facebook account to link) or create a throwaway Facebook account specifically used for Page admin purposes—which is likely against the company’s own policies.
A submission to the Pages Feedback form hasn’t generated any response yet; hopefully other users are noticing this shift in usage policy. As it stands, the latest version of the app feels like a definite downgrade for small team use.
When I bought my first iPhone 3G, the thing I was most excited about was the camera. It seems ridiculous now, considering how much the quality has improved with each new device, but at the time it was revelation: the idea of having a camera with me at all times—especially one with a constant online connection—was intoxicating. I’m sure I’ve taken far more photos in the past few years than I ever did before.
Oddly, though, the default Camera app for iOS has always been one of the biggest weak spots in the Apple ecosystem. It shoots stills and video, but for a long time that was it—and even now its few extra features are so limited that most serious users soon turn to 3rd party apps to help produce better images. For a long time, Camera+ was the app that people turned to when they wanted those extra features: separate focus and exposure controls, horizon levels and composition grids, and post-processing filters all helped make the app a huge hit, and for many it continues to be the go-to camera replacement for iOS.
Now, KitCam is giving Camera+ a run for its money—and even leaving it behind with a few killer features of its own.
The new app from GhostBird Software, available in the App Store now, has all the expected bells and whistles that any worthwhile camera app has had for a while now (as well as a few more like in-viewfinder brightness and white balance controls), but where the app really goes beyond most others is in its post-processing capabilities. It bears mentioning here that GhostBird is also behind the Photoshop-style image editor Photoforge2—a powerful mobile-based tool that I often use for some fairly heavy tasks that only a few years ago required tedious sessions at a desktop. With KitCam, the group has brought a lot of the tools from Photoforge2 right into the camera app, striving to be a one-stop app for content creation, editing, and sharing.
(l to r: Live previews offer different films, lenses, and frames; the full HD video recorder and some of the options available while shooting; the manual focus and exposure controls above brightness and white balance sliders.)
There are far, far too many features to detail them all here, but suffice it to say that nearly anything you want to do to an image you can do without leaving the app. It’s not as full-featured as Photoforge2—although the developers do include a handy way to open your images directly into that app—but there are a wealth of options. There are Instagram-style filters, color balancing and lighting tools, and even the opportunity to send your image anywhere in the world as a printed 4x6 postcard.
(l to r: one of the many editing screens, and some of the sharing options of KitCam.)
Some of it has been done before, of course, but while Camera+ paved the way, KitCam may well appeal to the more detail oriented photographer, someone who wants to move beyond just slapping another filter on a photo. (It will also appeal to the many people who have tried in vain to get Cam+ to integrate a video recorder—a glaring omission that has always forced me to keep the native Camera app within reach of my home screen.) For the average user, it could be information overload, but to anyone seriously interested in making the best photos they can on an iOS device, it’s an embarrassment of riches.
I did have a few minor quibbles with the interface, but for the most part the developers do a great job of providing onscreen tips and tutorials for new users. Some screens seemed unnecessarily complicated to reach—the main Settings screen, for instance, requires first entering the Photo library and then tapping on a generic list icon, and then tapping Settings within the list that appears. If you’re not looking for it, you might never get there. And while this might sound petty, I wish such a forward thinking app team didn’t use the 3D-illustration style of icon: it’s a sharp rendering, but there’s something about the style that makes the app seem more like a toy than a tool. It’s a personal bias, but one that has some effect on how often I end up using certain apps—or at least where they get placed on my device screens.
In the end, KitCam has taken the place—for now, at least—of Camera+ on my device. It’s hard to think of any app that might take that place again.