Posts tagged iphone
Since jailbreaking 5.0.1, I’ve been having issues with sbsettings. When I close the drop down window, the phone freezes for up to 10 seconds. Likewise, when activating the lockscreen from sleep, it takes a couple of seconds before I can swipe the swipey thing to unlock the phone. All this is very annoying.
Having done a bit of googling, I’m not the only one with these issues. Seems a reasonably common issue, and the issue seems to be sbsettings. However, given sbsettings is the main reason I jailbroke my phone, I don’t want to give it up.
So here’s a workaround while the developers fix the issue. Go into the ‘more’ section of sbsettings. Undernthe ‘Dropdown Window’ section, set the Disable Window toggle to ‘on’. Then turn on sbsettings in the Notifiication Centre settings. You can then use sbsettings toggles in the Notification Centre. If you also like to have sbsettings on the lockscreen, then you’re going to have to use a third party app like lockinfo or intelliscreenx. I prefer lockinfo.
Once I changed to the above setup, no more freezing.
After moving from a tethered jailbreak to untethered on iOS 5.0.1 recently, I noticed a significant downgrade in battery life. Even though I have been jailbreaking iPhones since the 1G, I’ve never had a problem with battery life. After untethering my iPhone 4, my battery lasted about 4 hours with only moderate use.
Googling produced only one possible solution – complete restore as a new phone (don’t restore from backup) and then jailbreak. Guess what – my battery life is like I’ve got a … new phone. Now, battery usage overnight is about 4% and a full charge lasts at least a day and a half with moderate usage. I’ve never had battery life like that, that I can recall.
Whilst this is all just anecdotal, I’m a little shocked at the difference. I’ve always done upgrades of firmware, or a restore from backup. Seems that a clean install does wonders for performance. As a Linux user, I’ve always laughed at windows users who reinstalled every few months to restore performance. I always assumed that unix like operating systems didn’t suffer from performance degradation over time. Seems iOS may be different – at least in terms of battery performance.
As you will have seen from this blog, I have been a long time jailbreaker of iPhones. I imported one of the first iPhones into New Zealand, which was locked to the AT&T network in the US. Without an unlock, it was just a fancy iPod. In fact there were many times during those early days, when I nervously sat with an apparently lifeless phone wondering if I’d finally managed to brick it. However, thanks to the wonderful jailbreak team, I could always coax it back to life.
Now apple have realized that there’s a market for their products outside the US, and I have a phone which can run on a local carrier without needing an unlock. However, I have continued to jailbreak my iPhones for the simple reason that they are unusable in their out of the box state! This has been brought home to me recently, when I upgraded to iOS 5. For those who don’t follow the jailbreak scene closely, there was a tethered jailbreak for iOS 5 before it was even released in its final (bug ridden) form. However, no untethered jailbreak has been released yet – a tethered jailbreak means that you have to connect your phone to your computer if you reboot it, making running low on battery away from home a sweaty palms moment.
So, I upgraded to iOS 5 thinking I’d run my iPhone au natural, naked, in the buff, unjailbroken for a while to see what it’s like. In short it sucks! How do the great unwashed put up with this? The great ease of use UI is not. It is easy to use in comparison to what existed before the iPhone … maybe. However, the jailbreak community has moved the platform on to such a point that it makes the original UI seem clunky and amateurish. Has the time come for Apple to admit that the jailbreak community has some merit and allow jailbroken apps into the app store?
I’ll give you one example of a jailbreak app that I miss dearly on my naked iPhone – there are many more (biteSMS, winterboard, infinifolders …), but let’s just focus on one. SBSettings is an unassuming little app. However, this is why it is so amazing. It is power coupled with simplicity. It provides a very simple interface to commonly used phone settings. If you’ve ever used the iPhones settings app, you’ll know why this is important. The settings app is fine for things that you set and forget. In traditional software design, that’s how settings work. You install some software, tweak the settings to how you like it, and that’s it, job done. You may come back and change them occasionally, but this would be rare.
On a phone, there are settings that you use all the time. Bluetooth for example. If I’m in the car, and get a phone call, I simply can’t open the settings app to turn on Bluetooth, so I can pick it up on the hands free. Likewise, I don’t want to have to keep Bluetooth running all the time because it is a battery hog. SBSettings has a Bluetooth toggle that is easy to access and turn on. Better yet, couple this with the activator app, and you can toggle Bluetooth using the hardware buttons.
In a similar vain, I often need to turn the autolock function off. The settings app hides this setting several layers deep. In SBSettings, simply swipe across the top bar and switch it on/off. I can also switch wifi access points, which I commonly need to do. So, open SBSettings, hold down the wifi toggle and all available access points pop up, choose, job done.
These are only two examples, but there are many more – for example, airplane mode, brightness settings, killing all background apps, turning on a flashlight. So why won’t Apple let this app into the app store? Is it not invented here syndrome? Are they worried that it would expose their poor UI design? Or is it that the app needs root access?
Apple has clearly recognized the benefit of the inspiration of other developers -*cough* iMessage/bbmessage – notification centre/android/lockinfo. So maybe they’ll implement this themselves. However, I have my doubts. It is sad that the great unwashed will never experience the joys of being able to use their phone to its true potential. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it now – the jailbreak community shows the clear benefits of an open platform – true innovation, by the users for the users, for free! Is it time to realise that the iOS UI is the equivalent of the emperor’s new clothes – great if you’re a believer, but for those that have had a taste of the real thing, lacking a little substance.
… how long will it be until Apple takes this idea and implements it in their OS, and call it “innovation” again? If you have a jailbroken iPhone, then you may have seen an app called kbshortcuts appear in Cydia. This app turns your iPhone/iPad keyboard into something really, really useful. The app allows you to perform common text editing operations with a simple swipe of your finger.
- Cut, copy, paste;
- Find and replace;
- Text navigation and selection;
- Dictionary definitions;
- Translate text;
- Undo and redo;
- Text snippets;
- Much more …
To activate a feature, simply swipe your finger from the spacebar up to the relevant key. For example, to copy text, swipe up to “c”. To paste, swipe up to “v”. To undo, swipe up to “z”. Most functions are bound to the key’s you would expect from gui text editors, such as Word or Openoffice.org.
But the feature that is killer, is undo and redo. How many times have you deleted text because of clumsy fingers and cried about it like a baby. No more cry baby – just undo your mistake! This app turns the iOS keyboard into a real tool for text editing.
turns iPad useful
This turns the iPad into a useful tool for creating text. Previously, typing text on the iPad keyboard was a complete pain in the arse. With this tool your iPad becomes a better content creator, and no longer just a content consumption device.
so, what about apple?
So how does this relate to iOS? Well, iOS 5 has keyboard shortcuts too! So why all the excitement about this Cydia app when shortcuts are coming to iOS anyway? Well, Apple’s implementation of keyboard shortcuts is … lame. Basically, you can insert text snippets by typing in abbreviations for them – yep, that’s it.
kbshortcuts is another example of why a locked down platform hurts the consumer and hurts innovation. Long live the jailbreak community! kbshortcuts is the definitive jailbreak KILLER APP.
iOS5 is underwhelming, and getting ahead by leaching off the work of others (just like a boss). WWDC2011 this morning brought a number of announcements from Apple. Most of them were pretty unexciting, but the most unexciting, were the announcements about iOS5. Out of the 200 "new features" in iOS5, they picked (presumably) the 10 best to highlight what Apple’s greatest minds have been working on for the last year or so. As far as I can tell, the features are either things they’ve borrowed from other apps available at the app store, or are copies of jailbreak functionality that was only created because it should have been in iOS in the first place.
Let’s take a few of the features:
Apple is now going to aggregate notifications in one place, so that they can be accessed as and when you like, and will be available on the lockscreen. So no longer will they randomly appear while you’re doing something else demanding attention, nor will they equally randomly disappear defeating the point of having notifications in the first place. They will always be available, either on the lock screen or on the springboard. Sounds a lot like lockinfo or intelliscreen to me, but without also providing the kind of information that does not come up in a notification – for example calendar and weather information, or a list of your upcoming tasks.
This allows iOS devices to message eachother. Exactly like Viber in the app store – or BBM on Blackberry for that matter.
Apple has made a todo app. Shall we add it to the thousands already in the app store? It is location aware you say? Yep, so is every other to do app in the app store. Now, if this would allow you to make a to do directly from the email app, I might get a little bit excited. However, that would actually be useful, and I’m not sure Apples in the business of being useful.
This is just the ability to sync with iTunes over wifi. You’ve been able to do this on a jailbroken iPhone for a long time using an app called "Wi-Fi Sync", available in Cydia.
Hardware Camera Button
You can now take photos with the volume up button on the side of the phone. If I recall correctly there was an app in the app store that allowed this until Apple removed it on the basis that it was "confusing". Apple must have clarified this now. This functionality is also available for jailbroken phones, along with using hardware buttons for all sorts of other things.
I don’t know about you, but if that’s the best Apple’s got, then my recommendation would be for them to open source iOS, and let some real developers innovate on the technology. Either Apple is out of ideas, or the fact that everyone will buy an iDevice regardless of features means that software innovation is a wasted overhead.
Legendary iPhone theme creator fif7y has created a gorgeous white theme for the iPhone called noki. So far, fif7y has only released the base theme. However, there is an active community helping to create widgets and other addons to be used with noki. A lot of these can be found on this blog.
Unfortunately, I haven’t found a springboard widget that I like – I’m a bit of a fan of the one-line calendar widget – so I’ve made my own. You can download it here. To install:
- Unzip the file;
- Copy the directory to /Library/Themes on your iPhone (use SSH);
- Select the Noki-Cal theme in Winterboard;
That’s it – enjoy.
If you’ve been jailbreaking the iPhone for a while, you’ll know about the replacement for the iPhone’s default graphical “shell”, Winterboard. Winterboard is basically a theming engine for the iPhone’s UI. Whilst Winterboard is mature and (usually) pretty stable, no significant development has taken place on it for quite some time. Whilst theme creators and other developers have come up with some amazing workarounds to circumvent some of Winterboard’s shortcomings (eg. html based widgets, per page html widgets, iNav mods, backboard for quick theme changes, springjumps), as with all workarounds, they have shortcomings – they can be hard to setup, are sometimes slow and can chew up memory and battery life. As with many things, necessity is the mother of invention, and the frustration with Winterboard must have gotten under someone’s skin enough to come up with a new solution for theming the iPhone.
So, along comes Dreamboard. This app was developed by WyndWarrior – who is also responsible for the development of the Backboard and PerPageHTML apps (which, ironically, are tweaks for enhancing Winterboard). Now that Dreamboard has been on the scene for a few months (it was released in March 2011), and there have been a few themes developed for it, I thought it was time to give it another go and see how it compares to Winterboard.
Dreamboard is available for download in the Cydia store. Once downloaded and launched, you are presented with a “card” style interface showing the “default” theme, which is your current Winterboard theme. You can slide to the left and right to choose the Dreamboard based themes. Dreamboard comes with an Android-alike theme called Endroid. Click on this “card”, press “Apply” and it will smoothly expand to fill the screen.
The developer’s description of Dreamboard claims:
Advanced Theming Platform. Take control over SpringBoard! Dreamboard lets you place anything from widgets to apps where ever you want. Theming is no longer limited to just icons, or having to resort to complicated setup themes involving Iconoclasm, SpringJumps, etc.
Dreamboard makes it easy to switch between any theme in just a few seconds. Simply launch, choose and apply! And, Dreamboard eliminates the long wait of having to restart Springboard everytime you make a change. No more resprings!
So how does Dreamboard actually compare to the developer’s sales pitch and Winterboard?
Switching between themes is as advertised. Very smooth and no resprings required. Even changing back to your Winterboard theme is seamless (tunes playing on the iPod app continue playing through the theme change). However, the setup of themes is not that easy. Whilst the theme creator has total control over the placement of icons and widgets, there are still a lot of limitations on customising themes for individual users. By way of example, folders which are available in Springboard for splitting apps into logical groups are not available in Dreamboard. Theme developers can, and do, group icons in Dreamboard “folders” which a user can edit, but if the categories that the developer chooses to use do not reflect the way the user likes to group apps, then the user is going to have to dig into the configuration files to get it “right” for them. For example the Boxor Dreamboard theme provides three categoris “Games”, “Apps” and “Favourites”. I don’t play games very much and I certainly wouldn’t give them top billing. The “Apps” category contains every app on my phone in alphabetical order – not really a category at all. As for “Favourites”, I put my most used apps on the home page of my phone, so what’s the point of having them in a separate folder? Whilst I don’t mind digging around in configuration files – in fact I quite like it, the ability to categorise apps in Dreamboard is limiting and I don’t think most users would have the patience to dig around in config files to make it “right” for them.
theming is limited
Another shortcoming of Dreamboard is that it only themes what I am loosely calling the “launcher interface” of your iPhone and not the whole UI. By the “launcher interface” I mean the screne(s) that come up when you unlock the phone – the icons for launching apps, the wallpaper and the widgets that sit on the wallpaper. In contrast, Winterboard allows themers to theme all of these elements, together with the whole UI – all UI elements from buttons to sliders and text elements (what would be referred to in developer speak as widgets in a GUI toolkit). Interestingly, this means that once you launch an app, it is themed as it would be in Winterboard, which can often mean that the look and feel of the apps does not sit easily with the look and feel of the Dreamboard theme itself. Winterboard, although requiring a number of tweaks to match the flexibility of Dreamboard’s “launcher interface”, the overall coherence of Winterboard themes is unmatched by Dreamboard.
speed and memory
Another shortcoming is speed and memory usage. A lot of the graphical elements are html widgets, which can also be an archilles heal of Winterboard themes. However, generally Winterboard themes use only one html widget. Whereas because there are no limitations on html widgets in Dreamboard, theme makers tend to use a lot of them. This tends to chew up a lot of memory and because all the widgets are “live” and constantly refreshing, they tend to use up more battery than Winterboard themes. In addition, they can slow down the UI. Scrolling between screens of icons/widgets seems to be pretty smooth. But once you get into the app “folders”, vertical scrolling is very slow and jerky. Interestingly, as you open the app folders, there is a significant drop in available memory. Also interestingly, memory usage drops by 100MB by switching from the Boxor theme back to the default Winterboard theme. Relatively speaking that’s about 1/3rd of the total available RAM on my device – eek.
I think it is pretty clear that Dreamboard is not going to take over from Winterboard any time soon. In my view, the lack of easy user customisation is an issue. Most users will find that the default configuration of the theme does not fit their particular “workflow” but will not have the patience and possibly skill to tweak the configuration to their liking. Furthermore, whilst Dreamboard integrates a number of disparate Winterboard tweaks into a coherent whole, I think I’d rather put up with using a hotchpotch of tweaks in Winterboard to get the same look as can be achieved through Dreamboard, as well as have a coherent theme across all aspects of the UI. I hope Dreamboard can implement these features to become a true competitor with Winterboard, because without competition, Winterboard is likely suffer from the stagnation it has enjoyed for quite some time to come
A new version (1.1.2) of color keyboard has been released. Annoyingly, the theme directory has been moved to a new location, which means all the themes you’ve saved for previous versions will need to be moved to the new directory. However, despite this small annoyance, there are some nice new enhancements:
- 35 new themes;
- The basic themes have been enhanced. I think what this means is that they now theme things like the shift key and other special keys for specialist keyboards – a lot of existing themes already do this, so this isn’t really an enhancement to the functionality of the app;
- Default pop-up themes, and the ability to choose those themes in-app, rather than from Winterboard;
- Customise background images. You can now set different backgrounds for the portrait and landscape keyboards, fixing a major flaw with background images in the previous version;
- Per keyboard background;
- Slider to change key radius;
Look forward to seeing some cool new themes.
Following on from my article about the new cydia app for theming the iPhone keyboard, I’ve done some updates for the keyboard theme I made for the very cool Prestige theme. The update fixes the caps button, so that it doesn’t have the standard apple theming when highlighted, and turns yellow when you have caps lock on. I’ve also included a bundle of UIImages that theme the popups.
To install, download the ColorKeyboard.plist file. If you haven’t already, make a new directory in /Applications/ColorKeyboard/Themes/ called “Prestige”. Then copy the file in to the new directory.
To install the popups, download the UIImages.zip file and unzip. Then copy the contents of the directory to /Library/Themes/Prestige-HD/UIImages/.
Having written recent posts on theming the iPhone and jailbreaking the iPhone, it would be remiss of me not to note the recent release of a very cool theming tool for jailbroken phones called ColorKeyboard.
This is a paid for app on Cydia, but I think worth it for what it does. Those that are familiar with iPhone theming may know about an app called iAcces. This is an app that was originally designed to provide Asian language keyboards, but has been hijacked by theme makers to provide themed keyboards for their themes. However, there are a few drawbacks (at least from my point of view) of iAcces. First, it’s damn expensive. Secondly, it is it’s own keyboard “system”, so it effectively replaces the native keyboard, and behaves quite differently – it takes a lot of getting used to. Thirdly, it takes up a lot of RAM, which can be a problem on a device that has limited RAM. Fourthly, it drains my battery faster than it would otherwise with the native keyboard.
ColorKeyboard is different from iAcces in a number of respects. It basically themes the native keyboard, so all of the downsides to iAcces I’ve listed above don’t apply. Furthermore, customising the keyboard theme is very easy – although you will have to get your hands dirty in a bit of XML style configuration. The finished product looks pretty good. So if you’re into iPhone theming and want to take things a little bit further, download and start playing with ColorKeyboard. They have a good tutorial on their website on how to make a theme for it.
If you use the Prestige theme, here’s a copy of my theme file.