Apps September 17, 2014

The Apple Watch may be able to share your heartbeat with someone across the world, but I think we all know that the future of communication actually lies in those little smiling faces called emoji that are usually tucked away in a secondary keyboard on our phones. To ensure that the future of interpersonal conversation is not hindered by the relative difficulty of tracking down just the right icon to express your feelings, one iOS development team has released a keyboard that translates everything you say into emoji.

The keyboard is called Keymoji, and it uses a crowdsourced database of emoji combinations that can then be substituted for words in your text messages, emails, tweets, and other communications (via Re/code). As you type, Keymoji will figure out what you want to say and translate it into a collection of icons that properly convey your message.

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In March we reported on a new jailbreak tweak called ProWidgets that introduced a whole suite of widgets to the iOS 7 Notification Center. With today’s release of iOS 8, Avanio Labs, the company created by Alan Yip, has released several native widgets for the new operating system. These new add-ons will help you keep track of your calendar and to-do list, monitor the weather, and perform a ton of useful actions on the text stored in your clipboard.

The first of these is Agenda+, which you can see in the screenshots above. Agenda+ combines a list view of your calendar events with a summary of your iOS Reminders. iOS typically breaks these two up into separate widgets, with the Calendar widget showing a full timeline of your day (which can take up a lot of space depending on how many events you have and how late in the day they are).

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As part of iOS 8’s new Extensibility features, developers can now create app extensions throughout the system for sharing information and performing actions without actually launching their apps.

What this means for users is that the familiar action or share button (the upward arrow in a box) will now contain way more options than ever before. Remember when Apple added Facebook and Twitter sharing, for example directly to Safari and Photos on iOS? Starting with iOS 8, Apple is allowing all app makers to create similar buttons for sharing and actions. An example of an action (like copy or add to Reading List) shared by Apple at WWDC was native language translation directly in Safari using Bing Translate. Extension support also includes photo filters allowing photo editing apps that provide filter extensions to work inside of the native Photos app.

A year after introducing Touch ID, the secure fingerprint scanner first introduced with the iPhone 5s, Apple is also now allowing apps to take advantage of Touch ID for the first time. Touch ID users can now authenticate log-ins and more in supported apps using the secure fingerprint scanner. Below we’ll tell you about the latest apps already taking advantage of extensions and Touch ID support for iOS 8.

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Apple introduced a new concept for developers with iOS 8 called Extensibility. This allows users to use services from apps throughout the system without actually being in the app itself, and widgets in Notification Center’s Today view are a major example of this feature in action.

Widgets from supported apps can be enabled by swiping down to the Today view in Notification Center, scrolling down to the “edit” button at the bottom, and tapping the “+” icon next to any supported apps. When you install a new app that supports a Today view widget, a badge will appear on the edit button to subtly notify you of the widget. You can also rearrange widgets as well as remove Apple’s own Notification Center widgets.

Many of these widgets present up-to-date information like the number of steps you’ve taken today, upcoming tasks or events on your third-party task management app or calendar, and much, much more. Below we’ll show you several of the latest apps offering widgets right now in Notification Center’s Today view. expand full story


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