Under The Bridge Under The Bridge

Category: Hardware
3D Touch Is Dead – Long Live Haptic Touch

So no doubt you noticed all the angst this summer about Apple possibly removing 3D Touch from iPhones, as indeed it did with the iPhone XR, if not catch up with the discussion here:

Possible Removal of 3D Touch With 2018 iPhones

… and once it actually happened, the seven usual stages of grief pretty much got dropped by most people and they headed straight to acceptance:

The iPhone XR shows how unnecessary 3D Touch has always been

Why does Apple’s 3D Touch fail miserably?

Personally, we figure the only problem with 3D Touch was discoverability, and a pretty much perfect fix was laid out here:

How Apple can fix 3D Touch

… Now that we know what the problem is, here is my solution. Like we did with the link texts years ago on the web, we should visually distinguish 3D Touchable buttons. Look at this same screen and see if you can tell which toggles accept 3D Touch … My solution is adding a line on bottom-right of things that can be 3D Touched. Let’s call them Force Decorators (with reference to Force Touch). 3D Touch is missing the most obvious thing to be mainstream. Visual cues. I think this is the answer.

Simple, elegant, and almost certainly correct; if you do support 3D Touch, consider adopting that!

However, given the lack of wrath from the buying public over the XR missing it, and the continuing Haptic Touch additions, seems like a pretty safe bet that we can consider 3D Touch a dead technology going forward … or at the very least should have parallel implementations. Which brings us to a pair of recent articles to recommend:

How to apply iOS 3D Touch to any UIView as a UIGestureRecognizer

….recently I needed to have an UIGestureRecognizer to apply to any UIView that intercepts 3D Touch as you can do with tap, drag, etc, but nothing similar is available in system libraries.
As result of my study about this implementation, I’ve written a UIGestureRecognizer subclass that can fit my needs…

Improve iOS apps user experience using Haptic Feedbacks and Taptic Engine using UIFeedbackGenerator

In my last post I wrote about introducing 3D Touch as common UIGestureRecognizer in any UIView to improve the interaction with your app, now I want to explore the haptic feedback which is giving us a new physical way to give control to the user of what is happening on his iPhone.
Until haptic feedback through taptic engine, play sounds were the only way to provide users a feedback about an action in the app, but sounds are annoying and sometimes creepy.

UIKit is providing us a clean and elegant way for that: a standard and safe interface for haptic feedbacks plug and play implementation, UIFeedbackGenerator…

If you haven’t checked out UIFeedbackGenerator before, here’s a good quick intro:

Creating an Immersive User Experience with Haptic Feedback in iOS

So, before designing your power user gesture interfaces going forward, check out those technology comparisons … and especially the 3D touch design/usability postmortems. Nothing worse than wasting time writing features that nobody actually uses!

UPDATES:

Remember back when we first collected articles on 3D touch, and digital scale apps were a nifty thing? Guess that’s going to go by the wayside as 3D Touch falls off as well. If you do have one of those apps, maybe you want to migrate to Android — check out the state of their art in 5 Best Real Digital Scale Apps for Android!

Haptico – “easy to use haptic feedback generator with pattern-play support” 

Improve iOS apps user experience using Haptic Feedbacks and Taptic Engine using UIFeedbackGenerator

DJI Drone Development

Always one to play with fun gadgets, we picked ourselves up a DJI drone last year — like, if you own a drone, you almost certainly did too — but somehow, we’d managed to completely miss that there’s an actively supported iOS SDK suite out there, until we stumbled across this:

Automated Drone Missions on iOS

The initial idea for Dronoway, the outcome of our experiment, was to conduct automated drone missions. First of all, we chose an iOS app to control our Mavic and machine learning part (embedded in the app) to decide if the machine has enough battery to conduct the mission. If not, it should return home and continue the plan from where it stopped…

That’s an inspiring project, isn’t it? Let’s collect our resources on how to go about playing with flying toys:

Step 1: Sign up for a developer account at DJI Developer

Step 2: Check out the documentation at DJI Mobile SDK and all the sample projects:

Step 3: Integrate into your own projects, most conveniently with these CocoaPods:

  • DJI-SDK-iOS: “the DJI Mobile SDK for iOS, supporting both Objective C and Swift”
  • DJI-UILibrary-iOS 4: “a suite of product agnostic UI objects that fast tracks the development of iOS applications using the DJI Mobile SDK”

Also check all the goodies at DJI-SDK on Github — 

— in particular, note that the hardware video decoding component is found in DJIWidget here — 

and questions tagged dji-sdk on StackOverflow.

Any other fun stuff you’ve stumbled across for DJI drones? Let us know!

Too True Tone

So did you skip past those bits about the “True Tone” ambient light sensing display in the hobbit-sized iPad Pro as sounding kinda gimmicky? Well, turns out that this DCI-P3 thing is actually A Very Big Deal:

Understanding the 9.7″ iPad Pro’s Display: How DCI-P3 & True Tone Work

DCI-P3 will be the gamut to have when UltraHD content rolls around, and Apple choosing it instead of Adobe RGB was a well planned move. While it’s not very relevant now, it certainly will be in the future, and Apple has already ensured that iOS and its app ecosystem manages color correctly to render sRGB content and DCI-P3 content correctly…

Looking at the Future

As with most things released by Apple, there is an amazing amount of underlying technology that makes this new display shine. This new product is also a glimpse of how our screen technology will evolve over the coming years, so now is a good time to start understanding how these changes are going to affect our products.

As a developer, you’ll quickly realize that the scope of these changes will make your update to Retina graphics look like a walk in the park…

In case you missed it, there’s ColorSync Support in iOS 9.3 (!)

… but if you actually start using color management right now, there’s issues to be aware of.

Whilst we await the brand new color management day to dawn, if you have a cutting edge iMac or iPad, here’s some more links to try this stuff out:

The Wide Gamut World of Color — iMac Edition

The 9.7-inch iPad Pro Color Gamut

Wide Gamut Test Paget

And if you don’t, well there’s your excuse to treat yourself!

h/t: Michael Tsai!

UPDATES:

Improving Color on the Web

How to Tell if Your App Is Handling Colors Correctly

Bringing Wide Color to Instagram

Pencil This In

Managed to get your Apple Pencil delivered yet? If you have, and you’ve gone through some introductory tutorials, here’s a remarkable burst of creative applications from the redoubtable FlexMonkey for you to try out:

PencilScale – Using an Apple Pencil with an iPad Pro as an Electronic Scale

Following all the interest created by my Plum-O-Meter, I couldn’t resist trying a similar experiment with my newly arrived Apple Pencil, so here’s PencilScale, an iPad Pro application that uses the Pencil as an electronic scale … The update() method simply subtract’s the touch’s force from a base weight (which is set as the current touch force when the ‘zero’ button is pressed) and multiplies it by 140 which gives the weight in grams (very roughly) …and amazingly, that is pretty much all there is to it!

PencilController – Using Apple Pencil as a 3D Controller for Image Editing

My PencilController project is a Swift app for iPad Pro that applies two Core Image filters to an image: a hue adjustment and a colour controls which I use to control the saturation … The hue filter’s value is controlled by the azimuth angle and the saturation is controlled by the altitude angle: when the pencil is vertical, the saturation is zero and when it’s horizontal the saturation is eight (although when the pencil is totally horizontal, its tip isn’t actually touching the screen, so the highest saturation the app can set is about six and three quarters).

PencilSynth – An Apple Pencil Controlled Synthesiser

PencilSynth is an AudioKit powered synthesiser (mis)using the Pencil as a joystick controller. It’s based on AudioKit’s TouchRegions demonstration and works like this:

  • The Pencil’s horizontal position on the screen defines the output frequency
  • The Pencil’s vertical position on the screen defines the output modulating multiplier
  • The Pencil’s altitude angle defines the output carrier multiplier
  • The Pencil’s azimuth angle defines the output modulation index

FurrySketch: Hirsute Drawing with an Apple Pencil

I thought it was about time to play with the Pencil for its intended purpose, sketching, and see how I could use its orientation data to affect brush strokes.

FurrySketch is a Pencil powered drawing application that draws a sort of multicoloured hair and, most excitingly, the hair’s direction matches the angle of the Pencil. It was super simple to write and, at least in my opinion, gives really nice results … If you are writing drawing apps, adding Pencil support is not only super easy, it adds real value for your users. The technique I’ve used here to draw hair is only a few lines of code way from spray cans and air brushes and I genuinely believe the iPad Pro will prove to be an amazing device for creatives.

Seen any other creative applications? Let us know! And if you’re still pondering over getting one, check out Gus Mueller’s love letter:

The Hype is Real

Every single stylus that has been made for the iPad or iPhone has been a pile of dog shit when compared to what you can do with a Wacom tablet. Even compared to what you could do 20 years ago with a Wacom tablet. The KoalaPad on an Apple //e was probably better.

It’s been hard, and upsetting. And so much money wasted on crappy iOS styluses. I stopped paying attention whenever a new stylus was announced, since I was inevitably let down.

And then this week I got the Apple Pencil (which is Apple speak for a stylus) and an iPad Pro. This new tablet from Apple has the hardware support needed to make a useful stylus. Hardware support that has been missing for five long, very long, agonizing years.

And It’s God Damn Amazing.

It feels absolutely right. Super low latency, palm rejection, and … it just works.

UPDATES:

Scribe: A Handwriting Recognition Component for iOS

BristlePaint: Embossed Painting with Individual Bristles using SpriteKit Normal Mapping

Smooth Drawing for iOS in Swift with Hermite Spline Interpolation

Apple Pencil Controlled Christmas Tree Bowling with SceneKit

Apple Pencil Tutorial: Getting Started

Healthy Kit

Looking for some Christmas presents for the other Apple fanbois/fangrrrls in your life? Here’s a rundown of various pieces of kit that are HealthKit-enabled, that’s a good way to combine geek fun with subtle lifestyle commentary:

How to make the most of Apple’s HealthKit in iOS 8 with compatible apps and accessories

..the free Health Mate app from WiThings can track your steps and log stats like weight using the iPhone’s M7 and M8 motion coprocessors. Where WiThings really shines is the integrated hardware accessories (sold separately) that can track unique data without user intervention..

If users are wanting to track nutrition and calories, the free MyFitness Pal app is a great choice. MyFitness Pal incorporates a large food database that can automatically fill nutrition information just by scanning a package’s barcode…

One of the most popular fitness tracking band lines on the market, Jawbone’s UP series boasts a number of tools to keep users healthy. The UP app was recently updated to integrate with HealthKit to track activity and add a sleep tracker capable of sending your data to the Health app. The software also provides personal coaching tips to achieve your personal fitness goals…

Another popular line of activity trackers come from Fitbit. Unfortunately, Fitbit has refused to natively incorporate HealthKit into its app. Instead, a third-party developer has created an unofficial app called Sync Solver for Fitbit that will read the data from your online Fitbit account and send it to HealthKit…

The Bowflex line of exercise equipment made by Nautilus has added HealthKit support for its app that will allow users to see workout stats in Apple’s Health app. Information such as workout duration, heart rate, calories burned and distance traveled are recorded…

Unlike many other fitness apps that track nutrition and activity, BACtrack integrates with a mobile breathalyzer that can measure your blood-alcohol content and send the stats to your iPhone…

With numerous accessories and one of the most mature platforms for fitness, the free Nike+ Running app can send your distance traveled, calories burned, run duration and more to HealthKit…

So there you go. We’ve been users of various pieces of the Withings kaboodle since the first scale shipped wow is it that long ago? and quite recommend them for keeping tabs on your various measurements. The other stuff mentioned above, well we’re sure it’s nice too, as always let us know any strong feelings you might have one way or the other!

And while we’re on the topic of HealthKit, the prolifically inquisitive Natasha The Robot has some intros here if you feel like programming your own healthy app:

HealthKit: Let’s Talk About Units

HealthKit: Asking For Identifying Information

HealthKit: Getting Fitness Data

Which is about all we’ve noticed in the way of tutorials — even the generally exhaustive Wenderlich iOS <N> By Tutorials didn’t have anything on HealthKit this time out. There’s a few testbeds and adapters on Github, but nothing jumping out as compelling. Hmmmm, wonder why that striking lack of interest from the development community in healthy apps. Hey, think how good the testing would be for you!

UPDATES:

HealthKit Tutorial with Swift: Getting Started

HealthKit Tutorial with Swift: Workouts

Researching ResearchKit

HealthKitHeartRateExporter: “A simple sample application for exporting heart rate samples from HealthKit.”

iBeacon Sightings

Today let’s take a look at what’s happening with one of the sleeper features of iOS 7: iBeacon! If you’ve managed to miss it so far, it’s Bluetooth microlocation broadcasters to supplement the accustomed location methods. No particularly big changes API-wise, a few new Core Location and Passbook methods, but it does have some rather interesting potential:

How Apple’s iBeacon Could Upend Retail Shopping

Forget about QR codes, NFC technology, kiosks, and tablets as the major game changers in retail; introducing iBeacon and Bluetooth Low Energy technology to our everyday retail experiences is like introducing the Flintstones to the Jetsons shopping mall…

Apple’s Location-Tracking iBeacon Is Poised for Use in Retail Sales

For retailers desperate to turn smartphones from distractions into a sales tool, it provides a quick way to target ads and other messages to consumers as they walk through a store. For Apple, it’s a chance to collect valuable shopping data and to build a mobile-payment platform into a dominant retail standard. Apple declined to comment. “IBeacon’s momentum is just getting started,” says Hari Gottipati, an independent tech consultant in Phoenix, “but it’s going to explode faster than anyone can imagine.”

How Apple iBeacon Will Transform Local Commerce

… iOS7 and iBeacon create an ecosystem-wide network effect overnight, with standard technology, offered in an open development environment. It’s very clear that Apple is starting to put the pieces together to allow consumers to make offline transactions with their device..

Apple Feature to Turn MLB Stadiums Into Interactive Playgrounds

Major League Baseball is launching a major initiative to make attending games at stadiums a completely interactive experience for fans.

Taking advantage of Apple’s iBeacon indoor mapping, a new feature in iOS 7, the MLB plans to customize its At the Ballpark app for everyone that walks into any of its stadiums nationwide…

iOS 7 iBeacons: Everything You Need To Know

S**t just got real.

Indeed.

So where can you pick up some hardware to try this out? Here’s a few links to start:

Estimote Beacons – real world context for your apps

Kontakt – Build your own iBeacon micro-location app in less than an hour

KST iBeacon [Alpha Program Participants Only!]

Roximity iBeacon – Take full advantage of iPhone’s new iBeacon framework, simply.

Twocanoes’s Bleu Station

Or, if you’ve got a spare recent-ish device sitting around, there’s the Estimote Virtual Beacon app to get started now.

Source code and tutorials:

WWDC 2013 Sample Code’s AirLocate “shows how to use CLLocationManager to monitor and range CLBeaconRegions.”

iOS 7 Tutorial Series: Core Location Beacons

Dave Addey’s iBeacons overview

nicktoumpelis / HiBeacons “can be used to demonstrate both beacon advertising and ranging”

ohwutup / OWUProximityManager – “Detect and connect to nearby devices with iBeacons and CoreBluetooth.”

Estimote / iOS-SDK has Distance, Proximity, and Notification samples, described in their API Documentation.

UPDATES:

lgaches / BeaconEmitter: “Create an iBeacon with your MacBook.”

Can you Smell the iBeacon?

iOS Component For Creating A Pulsing Animation Great For Map Annotations And Beacons

iBeacons Used To Deliver Location-Based Access To iOS Newsstand Publications

How iBeacons could change the world forever

Reverse Engineering the Estimote

iBeacon Could Be Apple’s Secret Gaming Weapon, Developer Says

4 Reasons Why Apple’s iBeacon Is About to Disrupt Interaction Design

iBeacons Lessons Learned

Open Beacon Credentials: “Introducing a shared iBeacon identifier scheme for common personal use cases.”

The Emerging iBeacon Ecosystem – August 2014

iOS 8 pushes location context to a new level: lock screen notifications triggered by iBeacon

Developing iBeacons Apps with Swift

Core Location Tutorial: Geofencing

Hacking with iBeacons: What I wish I’d known

NFC for iOS: FloJack

So you really wish your iOS device was NFC enabled? And don’t feel like waiting around for Apple to bother supporting it? Well, you might want to help nudge this Kickstarter project over the top:

Screen Shot 2012-11-25 at 9.39.55 AM.jpg

As we write they’re some $4K short of their $80K goal with 34 hours to go; the Flomio website is here where you can see the team includes the dude who wrote NFC Quick Actions for Android, and you can check out their SDK at flomio / flojack-ios; so it certainly looks like they’re serious here, and it would be nice to see their project succeed … if only to cut off another talking point from those cackling “ANDR0ID FTMFW!” fandroids. Cheap at the price, really.

h/t: [mobile developer:tips];!

Autograph Library

So you got an application you need to capture actual signatures for? Release form, shipping delivery, that kind of thing? Well, here’s a licensable library to make that easy:

Ten One Design Autograph iOS Library

  • Simple integration with any UIView, or just call the built-in modal view.
  • Customizable stroke color and width, and signature size.
  • Advanced stroke smoothing for accurate signatures.
  • Velocity sensitive stroke width for biometric verification.
  • Customizable message. Show your customers what they’re signing for.
  • Three-finger swipe to undo/redo strokes.
  • Optional inclusion of date.
  • Optional unique security hash watermark for each signature (for tracking purposes).
  • Freely available demo version allows you to try it out before committing.

Handy if you need it, as we say. Check out the free Autograph app that makes your device into a signature capture pad to check it out, along with Mac and Windows helper apps to do something with those captured signatures.

Now, you thinking to yourself “Dude, I don’t sign my name with my finger”? Why no, no you don’t, and these Ten One people make a capacitive stylus “Pogo Sketch” for any device or the “Pogo Stylus” specifically for iPhone/iTouch to help you out with that. Or any other kind of drawing/writing etc.:

Drawing Applications: The Pogo Sketch is an interesting alternative to expensive graphics tablets, and a lot more portable. On a mobile device, the Pogo Stylus makes sketching a lot easier.

Taking Notes: TThere are some incredible note taking applications for the iPad and iPhone. They’re all great companions to the Pogo Sketch.

See our recommended iPhone/iPad applications here

Okay, we definitely have to check some of these note takers out. This stylus just might make the iPad actually better for our preferred scrawling style of note taking than paper, it looks like.

And to finish off on another note completely while we’re looking around their site … want an analog joystick for your iPad? Well look, they’ve got just the thing!

h/t: MacNN!

AirPlay Emulation

So you’d like to put AirPlay support in your app, but hardware to test with is inconvenient (or completely unavailable in your country)? Here’s a couple ways to sort that out:

Banana TV – [EDIT: Discontinued.]

… Banana TV lets you use AirPlay for your Mac as well – play video or images from your iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch running iOS 4.2 or higher directly onto any networked Mac. It runs directly on your Mac, and is a great tool for showing off pictures or video on your Mac’s monitor, at a friend’s house, or the office. Even use your iOS device photo library as a presentation tool…

ShairPort – open source

… This program emulates an AirPort Express for the purpose of streaming music from iTunes and compatible iPods. It implements a server for the Apple RAOP protocol. ShairPort does not support AirPlay v2 (video and photo streaming) …

Any other AirPlay development helpers you’ve found of assistance, Dear Readers?

h/t: iphonesdk!

Cypress Expansion Board Kit

Ooooh, this is really really nifty: Ever had any desire to do an iPhone hardware accessory? Well, looks like doing so just got a lot easier:

CY8CKIT-023.jpg

The easy-to-use PSoC-based development platform enables highly-integrated modular design of functions such as capacitive touch-sensing, LCD segment drive and much more for traditional iPhone and iPod accessories such as audio docks and speakers, chargers and automotive products. The platform also opens up a new realm of accessories that can leverage the 480 x 320 touchscreen display and many other features of the iPhone and iPod touch for a myriad of markets and applications, including health and wellness, point-of-sale, RFID, and diagnostics and instrumentation tools. Details on the new kit and a video demonstration are available at www.cypress.com/go/cy8ckit-023

Almost enough to make us wish we knew anything about hardware design!

h/t: MacSurfer!