Monday, June 6, 2011

Tweak Week Coverage - Week #1: Ryan Petrich

[Week #2 -> Filippo Bigarella]

Thanks to Ryan Petrich for starting up the TweakWeek Challenge on the 1st of June. A free open source iOS tweak every day of the week, from a popular developer from the community each week. First week is over for Ryan with a pretty good job with the tweaks. My top two from Ryan are Running Indicator and MathAlarm! Find the reviews and description of the seven tweaks below. Click this link for the next week's tweaks from FilippoBiga.

June 1: DietBar
A nice and simple tweak which shaves a bit less than a centimeter off from the navigation bar found in many iOS applications.

It also removes the same amount from the bottom bars (such as the one with Update and Create New in This therefore gives you about 1.5 more centimetres of window space. There aren’t any settings or icons. Looks tidy most of the time, but if the text in the navigation bar is multi-line then it’s going to get shaved!

Would be nice to have a setting on/off and perhaps control size of navigation bar.

June 2: PagePusher
One again, a very simple, no icon or settings tweak. This tweak changes the default “switching-a-page” animation from the default “pushed-in” or animation to a neat looking “Page curl” one.

I think extending it to have different animation choices which can be set in the settings menu would be a good move.

June 3: SplitMail for iPad
iPad only, and since I don’t have one this isn’t really a review.
From description: “Enables using the split dual-view while in portrait orientation” for the Mail app.

An extension to the free “Action Menu” system app (also by Ryan), which saves the current webpage to Instapaper (Appstore: $4.99 or Browser Version free). Tap and hold to select any segment/text of the page you are browsing and the action menu will show up with “Read Later” option, or the Instapaper “I” icon if you are using icons.

Click that and the page’s text is saved with all the links for reading later.

You need an account with Instapaper, and you need to set the plug-in up with your username and password in the Action Menu (you need to download that obviously) settings page. Open up Instapaper using your browser, or device to check your saved links/pages.

I reckon this could be made better if links from other non-browser applications could be saved such as broadcasting apps (Ex: Whatsapp). Still good nevertheless!

Semi-related... On my wishlist: an Action Menu plug-in “Copy to” button, which could be set up from settings to copy selected text/data to different locations (Ex: to New note, Instapaper, Dropbox, etc.) without opening the “destination”. Just throwing this out there! :)

June 5: Running Indicator
My favorite tweak from TweakWeek so far. This tweak highlights the apps that are still running in the background, on your device's springboard.

This highlight is done by a nearly subtle glowing effect of the apps' icons on the springboard, when the apps are still running in the background (Notes and Calculator from my screenshots).

In addition to that there is a single setting to toggle the close button on these icons on or off, allowing you to directly close the applications without entering the app switcher.

I like this tweak because it tells you that there are apps still running if you forgot to Remove Background apps, without having to double-click the home button to get to app switcher, which you would tend to forget to do. Cleans out the memory and probably saves some battery life.

Perhaps a setting to customize the glow effect's color and intensity would be an improvement? Or a different style of indication? (Ex: outlining?) But the tweak is pretty sweet the way it is. Keeper for me!

June 6: SliderBar
This tweak adds a slider bar, or scroll bar if that's the term you prefer to use, on the right of all the pages which have table views, or list items such as the Settings app. The slider bar is represented by dots lined vertically on the right hand side of the screen.

This allows the user to scroll faster to any specific segment of the page, by clicking that area of the scroll bar (so click near the end of the slider bar to go near the end of the page). You can tap and drag to scroll as well, which is faster than the default slide up gesture, but not as pretty. Good for long distance scrolling. The type of scrolling is similar to that of the Contacts app.

Speaking of the Contacts app, this tweak replaces the slider bars when they exist by default (such as the alphabetical Contacts app slider bar) which I believe it shouldn't! That's one negative point, the other one is that there is no indication as to where we are on the page (in terms of the slide bar indicating that). I think making the SliderBar dot which represents our current location in relation to the page darker would solve that problem. Also, I usually don't care for aesthetics, but the dots really don't look that nice. Its a tweak never the less and more tweaks means more choices for people to customize.

June 7: MathAlarm

This tweak in my opinion is the most useful one from Ryan Petrich’s TweakWeek, at least if you’re a heavy sleeper, or alarm evader like I am. MathAlarm extends the functionality of the native Clock app, and makes it more annoying and harder for you to ignore. Traditionally, one would hit the snooze button a few times without realizing and then deactivates the alarm thereby over sleeping and missing a meeting. MathAlarm requires you to get some brain function before allowing you to turn off the alarm! In order to snooze or deactivate an alarm you must answer a simple double digit multiplication question. I am saying simple right now because I am fully awake, but when I’m asleep I’d either need to fully wake up or solve the multiplication question with a pen and paper. The nice/evil thing is you can’t turn the alarm off without the correct answer! So at least you will have to be awake long enough to switch the alarm off, which is better than being completely unaware of the alarm because you deactivated so easily without even waking up.
Here’s the step by step instructions on how to use the tweak. (Note:  the tweak has a few bugs at the time of writing this, so follow the exact steps here or you might  be stuck with an alarm you can’t turn off even after solving the question).

Set the alarm normally from the Clock app.

You will get an input box with the question, two buttons and answer text field.

If your device is locked UNLOCK IT BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING. If you have LockInfo installed you will not see the “Slide to Stop Alarm” text, but you still need to unlock the device before doing anything.

After that you will get a number pad which you can key in the quotient and either click snooze or deactivate.

If your phone wasn’t locked to start with then you just key in the quotient and you’re done.

Simple as that if you follow these steps, however if for some reason you get stuck with a non-stopping alarm (see below) you will have to manually reboot your phone (by holding the power and home buttons until it turns off the switching it back on)

Thanks for the efforts Ryan!

Next on: Week #2 FilippoBiga!

Have a good day or night, wherever you are, whoever you are.
Its been a pleasure.

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