My new 8-pin buddy—Lightning!
Photo from Apple.com
With the new iPhone 5 comes, among other things, a new connector. This means new adapters that allow the iPhone to work with old accessories.
Now, I’m not going to like having a pile of legacy cables in my closet next to my old FireWire cables—but life
The current dock connector has been in use since the second generation iPod. It is a tad dated at this point. Also, Apple could not have achieved the size of the new iPhone while using the old connector. For that reason alone I welcome my new 8-pin buddy!
Apple has been ridding their devices of legacy i/o long before people thought they were ready, and my guess is they made the right move. People thought removing a CD drive from a computer was crazy. Now, how many users of newer mac laptops really miss their CD drive on a day-to-day basis?
I’ll admit the connector switch is very different. It is a totally new proprietary connector that I bet Apple won’t allow other phone manufacturers to use. Maybe Apple should have used mini USB, maybe not. I’ve given them the benefit of the doubt, and hope they have good reasons to change the standards, aside from selling tons of adapters for a profit.
Written by Sean Brant, developer at Riot9
App tools that every iOS designer needs
Working on an iOS app is a lot of fun for a designer, but previewing your designs on an iPhone or iPad can be tedious without the right tools. Sure you can email yourself a JPG or use Dropbox to get mockups on your iOS device. But these are time consuming when perfecting the fine details.
Enter Silkscreen and Skala Preview. Both allow you to quickly preview your Photoshop (yes, Photoshop!) files on your iPhone (or iPad). Both are stupid easy to use—drag your file on the accompanying desktop app, connect to your device over Wi-Fi and launch the iOS app. Voila! Every time you save your file, the preview on your device automatically refreshes. Both are useful for web design too—namely when designing responsive sites.
Silkscreen just edges out Skala for our uses because it gives you a neat icon preview on a mock homescreen if your file was a standard icon dimension (Skala lacks this feature). We also like that the iOS preview is interface free.
Skala does have the benefit of being able to preview your design on more than one device at a time, but its bottom nav bar takes a tap to hide and can get in the way sometimes. But that nav bar does provide some helpful features—adjust the brightness and email or tweet your mockups directly from within the app (if that’s your sort of thing).
Long story short, if you are designing for iOS devices, both are worth checking out!
Written by Vanessa Grass, designer at Riot9
The Internet is Awesome
I’ve been around long enough to remember when the Internet was all telnet and finger and gopher. I stayed in the industry for a bit more than a decade as the Internet went through its toddler phase, and I’m happy to have played a small part in raising it.
I’ve been keeping busy with other projects for the last few years (OK, 10… at least) trying to lose the pounds I gained sitting in front of a computer by putting my energy into doing and building things more physical that virtual. It’s been a lot of fun and very satisfying. And it was great to be purely on the consumer side of things for a change. But along the way, as I watched opportunities present themselves and I passed on them, I knew that someday I would not be able to resist returning to the industry that felt so much like home.
Well, my willpower finally gave out and here I am, back at it. Naturally, I’ve been doing a lot of catching up, and I must say, I’m impressed! The development of web APIs and the “cloud” are the most exciting things in software development in, well, maybe ever. It is just mind-boggling how these technologies have enabled and accelerated innovation. Ideas that 10 years ago never would have left the napkin without a small army of engineers and gobs of capital are now released easily by a couple of friends and scaled to millions of users. New products can now be realized, built and changed and released again in just tiny fractions of the time previously required.
So, I just want to say: You are all awesome! I am so impressed.
I’m excited to jump back in and get to work building things. Thanks for all the cool stuff you guys have done, and I hope we can return the favor!
Written by Marc Ewing at Riot9
SVGs, short for scalable vector graphics, are well, pretty awesome, for lack of a better word. If you aren’t familiar with the magic of SVGs you may be wondering why dedicate a blog post to them. The answer, at least for the purposes of the Riot9 website design, are two-fold. For one, SVGs provide a resolution independent way to serve up web graphics using XML to provide the browser “drawing instructions” for recreating paths, color, text, etc. Two, their file sizes can’t be beat. Check out the two versions of the Riot9 logo below to get a relatively non-technical demonstration of the magic happening here:
The first version of the logo is a PNG (exported from the same file as the SVG from Illustrator to ensure the same pixel dimensions) zoomed in at 200% in Chrome. Notice the loss of quality—namely the fuzzy edges—in this screenshot. Compare this to the screenshot of the SVG version of the logo below it, also zoomed in at 200% in Chrome. The edges stay super sharp and crisp no matter how much you zoom in or what device you view this on. So this means the logo looks great on the new (and much coveted by me) MacBook Pro with Retina display while still maintaining a small enough file size to render quickly on an iPhone4 without involving CSS media queries to swap out smaller or larger raster images (like PNGs).
Now let’s compare file size… In the above example, to keep the Riot9 logo sharp and crisp at 200% in PNG format the file size would be around 10 KB. The file size of the SVG version of the logo is only 3 KB and is infinitely scalable! While 7 KB doesn’t seem like a big deal, every bit of file size reduction in web development helps and it’s a no-brainer when it comes to the file size vs quality question. Unfortunately SVGs are not always the answer. SVGs are really only best for relatively simple graphics like icons and some logos. Complex, continuous tone images are best served up in bitmap format—PNGs, JPGs and GIFs. Another issue is lack of support across all browsers… latest versions of all major browsers have native SVG support, but if you’re concerned with Internet Explorer 8 (and below) users, SVGs won’t display and you’ll need a raster image fallback.
Modernism in the Modern World
Moholy-Nagy was also a professor in the Bauhaus school. The Bauhaus combined arts and crafts and became well-known for the modernist design theory it taught. His strong beliefs in the integration of technology and the arts marked a turning point in the school’s direction.
Here at Riot9, we also advocate the synergy of art, specifically design, with the ever-evolving world of technology, through both the means of creation and the medium of the interface. It seemed appropriate then, to take a cue from Moholy-Nagy’s paintings when designing the Riot9 website.
Combining painterly textures and overlapping geometric elements, as well as employing a neutral color scheme with accents of more saturated hues, this digital translation of fine art was an exciting design challenge.
Move in day! Ended up a bit anti-climactic as we still had no internet, and had to move everything to the middle of the office and cover it while the walls were painted. But still, exciting!
(Sorry about the titles—was just figuring out time lapse app.)
Good design is unobtrusive.