Jaku for the iPhone and iOS 7

The sun rises in the east.

iOS 6

As a Cydia developer, we are granted the ability to set two parameters: One is the device type, the other is the iOS firmware version. I have enabled Jaku for devices that are capable of running WinterBoard and iOS 7.0. Why the loss of iOS 6? Because Apple rebuilt iOS from the ground up and has changed so much internally that supporting iOS 7 and 6 has become essentially as much work as supporting two separate products, a feat I am simple incapable of handling. Apple product users tend to be quite progressive with extremely high adoption rates. Records indicate that iOS 7 adoption is floating around the 85 percentile. In reality, very few people will be left out by this decision.

IconBundles

IconBundles (IB) provides an elegant and simplified method of theming your home screen. WinterBoard relies on both the Bundle ID (e.g., com.apple.Passbook) and the icon file name (e.g., [email protected]), while IB does away with the latter. To theme an icon, we simply need the app’s respective Bundle ID. Then we tack on @2x for Retina (e.g., [email protected]) and voila, the icon is now themed. While the core of Jaku still uses the default method found in WinterBoard (Bundle ID and icon file name) and technically does not required IB, there’s another reason it’s installed along with Jaku.

Since much of iOS 7 is drawn by code (not by simple PNGs as was in the case in iOS 6), themers are limited in what they can alter; severely limited. Apple added a number of core animations, one in particular that has caused much grief: the black border syndrome. When a user opens or closes an app (and has Parallax enabled), a black trim is applied to the icon. This effect is part of the icon clipping mask and is only apparent on themes that alter this mask (like Jaku). Before IconBundles, a user had to either live with it, or disable Parallax. Nick Frey (IB’s developer) not only provided compatibility for the 64bit architecture, but also went ahead and fixed the black border syndrome. That’s why Jaku now requires the tweak.

I am extremely conscious about rolling in whatever is absolutely necessary and am also tyrannical about performance and cleanliness. I didn’t include IB on a whim.

Note: For those not wishing to run IconBundles, delete the following files from your device and reboot:

/Library/MobileSubstrate/DynamicLibraries/IconBundles.dylib
/Library/MobileSubstrate/DynamicLibraries/IconBundles.plist

You will have to repeat this step should you ever update the tweak in the future.

Jaku for the iPad

Jaku for the iPad is in the process of being ported to support iOS 7. I can’t discuss timelines, but it is being worked on. I appreciate all the email inquiries and tweets I have received and hope that those that are waiting can exercise a bit of patience.

The Future

Icons. More icons. Jaku needs more icons. To maximize the user experience, I am focusing on many of the big ticket items. I will also keep refining existing icons, bringing older generations up to my new standards. I am not taking requests but do keep an eye on those that tweet along a screenshot of Jaku and tend to make most of my decision based on this criterion.

For those on approved devices, you can nab Jaku for the iPhone today. As always, if you purchased it in the past, all updates are free and you won’t get charged again to run it on iOS 7.

Jaku for the Retina iPad Roadmap

With the release of the new Jaku for the Retina iPad, I wanted to touch base with everyone that is flying it on their iPad.

Firstly, thanks for the immense support. I know a ton of you have been waiting for this day and have stuck with me for over a year (flying the original Jaku for the Retina iPhone). You guys made all this possible.

Secondly, I want to apologize for the slew of bugs that will inevitably follow this initial release. To protect my work and ensure a launch befitting an Apple product, I elect not to use beta testers. This makes my life much harder but it also guarantees that Jaku will not be leaked and will be impactful upon release. You take the good with the bad.

But don’t worry, even as I type this, I’m in the process of prepping an update that will fix a few bugs I’ve discovered, but more importantly, will continue to flesh out the theme.

I will concentrate on icons and fleshing out the UI to bring it inline with the iPhone edition. For this, getting the Bundle ID and icon file name for the Retina iPad icon would be of extreme help. To maximize my efforts, I’m going to focus on the most popular apps. Twitter, Netflix, Dropbox, iFile, etc. So if you can help there, please reply below with the details and I’ll add the icons to the todo list. Jaku for the iPhone has had a year over the iPad edition, so I’m playing catch up.

PS: Please don’t ask for an icon for “some app.” I need the Bundle ID and icon file name or I really can’t help you. And I really want to help you. It helps me. It’s good for all of us.

Jaku Theme for the Retina iPad

Jaku Theme for the Retina iPad

The venerable Jaku Theme will officially be heading to the iPad. While a release date is yet to be determined, development of the project has been going swimmingly. You can follow my twitter feed or Dribbble section for progress reports and teasers.

The biggest challenge in porting the theme from the iPhone was having to redraw every single icon by hand. While the general framework (concept and metaphor) was already laid out, putting in the Photoshop time was still quite exhaustive. And there was the dilemma of what exactly to do: Simply upscale the icons, as is, or revise them for an overall better experience? I chose the latter, mostly because I felt simply redrawing the current icons at a higher scale wouldn’t bring enough value for people’s hard-earned cash. So while Jaku for the iPad will still carry with it the same fundamental design principles that drove Jaku for the iPhone, it will also expand and refine on what’s currently there. In short, it will be an entirely new experience rather than a mere extension of the current theme.

Will the changes found in the version for the iPad trickle back into the version for the iPhone? Yes and no. Some will, but some simply cannot be done due to the incredibly dense pixel ratio of the smaller device. The iPad’s larger icon canvass and tamed pixel density (PPI) allows for greater detail and more complex designs. But changes to Jaku for the iPhone will be coming, and in time, both themes will tangle together, but of course, will always remain distinct products.

How much will it cost? It will be priced the same as Jaku for the iPhone: $2.99 USD and will, of course, include free updates for life.

Jaku Theme to Support iOS 6

It’s been a long while since Jaku has seen an update. So what does the future hold? Some really terrific things actually!

With the public release of a 5.1.1 jailbreak (thanks to the terrific JB Dev Team) for every singe Apple device on the market,  the Jaku Theme will receive has received a compatibility update. Apple likes to constantly shift icons, introduce new material, or just randomly change file names.

Following that, my eyes are on WWDC 2012 (held the second week of June) and iOS 6. I’m waiting to see what Apple plans to do with the UI. If they retain the same look for iOS 6, then I will step in and expand Jaku’s current reach into iOS’s user interface. This unfortunately means the release of 1.5 will be pushed back, but that also means it will pack even more into it.

Jaku has always been about pushing out the very best, and never rushing things. Nothing has changed.

Jaku Theme FAQ

Jaku Theme

Will Jaku ever come to the iPad/iPad 2/iPad mini?

This is actually asked a lot. And I feel for iPad owners, I really do. Those devices (inexplicably) just don’t get any love from the theming community despite being so damn popular. But the answer is, regrettably: no. It will never come to the iPad/iPad 2.

The Retina display on handheld devices boasts an icon canvass of ~120px. The iPad, despite it’s larger screen size, boasts icons that are substantially smaller (~72px). This is a serious loss of real estate. And to redraw all 180+ icons (not to mention the UI changes and 3rd party application images) is nothing short of staggering. It took me almost a year to get Jaku to where it is now.

But it will come out for the Retina iPad. Let’s hope the next version of the iPad mini has a Retina display.

“But why don’t you just resize them as-is to 72px?” I hear some of you asking. Because that’s not how I roll. I aim for pixel perfection. Anything less doesn’t interest me in the slightest (and I feel degrades my work).

Where’s the auto-mask?

There actually is an “auto-mask,” of sorts. Let me explain how iOS works.

iOS Automask

The first part of the pictogram shows the layers applied to an icon. The top most layer is optional, providing the gloss (as you can see on the Plants vs. Zombies icon). It has somewhat fallen out of favor and rarely used these days.

The second layer, is called the AppIconMask. It is a clipping mask or what people have dubbed the “auto-mask.” For those of you that don’t know what that is, it’s exactly like a cookie-cutter. It cuts out a part of the canvass (anything within the red block in the pictogram) and discards the rest. For example, if you made the clipping mask a circle, your icons would be round. The other two layers are self-explanatory (the last layer provides the shadow for the icon).

The layers are stacked exactly like they are pictured in the pictogram by iOS. Together they make a 3rd party icon. Note: the default apps don’t use these because they’re only there so other developers don’t mess up their app icons and make them look different than the one’s in iOS; you know Apple likes to run a tight ship.

In the first row, you’ll see my current mask in action. It falls over the entire icon, resulting in that fabulous and iconic bevel unique to each icon. The second row is what the icons would look like if I used an “auto-mask,” like some people are looking for. It doesn’t look as good, but it’s not repulsive, right? The last row is what the auto-mask would look like in actual practice. Now this won’t be the case for some of the 3rd party icons, but it will be the case for the majority of the icons found in the App Store. Cydia apps (like the default ones) don’t use the mask either, so you’re still left with some icons that won’t be themed regardless of what kind of mask you use.

My design philosophy behind Jaku (and my work in general) is to continually maintain the highest standard possible. That’s what drives Jaku: pixel perfection. Cutting corners or having something that’s “good enough” just isn’t how I roll. I’d rather make this my full-time job and theme every single one of the few million icons in the App Store than sacrifice an ounce of quality if I can help it.

Theming iOS is all about trade-offs. You win some, you lose some.

Will you ever theme “x, y and z?”

Maybe, maybe not. The fundamental design principle that drives Jaku can be summed up in one word: refinement. iOS has been out now for 5 years. In that time, a lot has changed, and some things haven’t. With Jaku, I aim to bring the more aging components up-to-date, with respect to the other components they are hooked into. For example, I have shied away from theming the toolbar because it would break a large number of apps and theming them all would be nigh impossible.

This theme is not a testbed to show the limits of theming. To be sure, others have gone out of their way to completely re-design iOS, giving it a completely different look and feel (which illustrates just how much can be done). But that is not something I’m interested in doing. First of all, things break the more you change them. Every component is multi-faceted and elements are used in numerous locations across the OS. Your modified resource file may look great on the home screen, but it may look a bit of awful on the Lock Screen, or in Mission Control. The point of Jaku is to “sanely” apply changes that not only respect, but keep Apple’s current aesthetic.

Second, there are many components of iOS that I like. The iOS 5 chat bubbles for one (which does come up as a possible venue to extend Jaku’s reach). But I love them. Sure, I may not dig the heavy green of the SMS bubbles, but I can’t violate Apple’s copyright by distributing a slightly altered version of their work with my (paid) theme. I already skirt copyright violation as is by using their corporate logo/branding and product likeness for various icons. Regardless, I never meant for Jaku to one day replace the entire UI. And if the day comes that Apple will make a better Alert popup or a better Notification Center background than the ones included in Jaku, I will most definitely pull my resources and return that element to stock. (But they would have to really one-up me!)

Some elements I haven’t themed because I have deemed it to yield an inferior product (i.e., break too many iOS components), others because I like Apple’s existing design, and still others because I have just not had the time. So while I can’t definitely answer this, I can tell you that default iOS SMS Bubbles are here to stay; that much is certain. The rest falls into the other two categories.

You changed an icon in this new version. Can you give me the old one?

Nope. I have someone who is visibly upset that I made a change to an icon in almost every version. And I tell you now that I do that. I am always hunting for perfection and that often means revisiting old icons because something about them just always felt “off,” or I thought of a new concept or a new way to present the metaphor.

Firstly, you should be making backups before you update if this concerns you. This is absolutely within your means to do. I can’t take on the burden to ensure everyone is always happy with everything I create. That’s a fight you just can’t win. There is always bound to be someone who won’t like some element and those that just don’t like change, period.

Secondly, I rarely do alternates because they are so rarely used (most people don’t go rummaging around the theme looking for a bundle that may have more than one icon) and I have no intention of burying something I worked really hard on in some folder for 5% of the population to enjoy. Then there is also the added burden of having to organize and manage such things. As it stands, it’s already quite time consuming to package and maintain Jaku. And I’d rather put my time and effort towards bringing you more content than housekeeping.

Thirdly, some people get on board late. They didn’t buy Jaku on day one, so they didn’t get an opportunity to save the icon before it was changed. To them, I say: that’s life. If you bought a Mac with OS X Lion and then saw your friend’s Mac running Snow Leopard and fell in love, it’s unreasonable to walk up to Apple and expect them to swap the OS for you. Same deal here. You just missed the boat and while it’s not something you probably want to hear, that’s how life works. It’s not fair or unfair, but just how things work.

Lastly, I don’t keep old icons. I don’t have a war chest of all the versions I’ve done for Safari or Maps (which were quite a few actually) or get off on being withholding. I keep the most current icon. If that changes, then I too, like yourself, lose the old one. If I backed up every single version, my entire Time Machine backup would be filled with icons and not much else. So in many cases, I couldn’t get the old version for you even if I wanted to.