Indigo Touch 2.0 (IT2) is now final (along with Indigo v6.1), and we’d like to give you a little background on its development. If you’re only interested in the feature list, check out the forum announcement.
IT2 is a significant rework of the previous version of Indigo Touch. We updated the app to use the iOS 7 SDK as the base (and added some iOS 8 specifics as well). This allowed us to give the app a modern feel, including using split views on devices with larger screens to optimize screen real estate usage. We also upgraded the look and feel of the graphics and controls in the app to make it a first-class iOS app. IT2 now feels great running alongside all your other iOS 7/8 apps.
Once again, we worked with our go-to graphics guy, Mark Gervais, to update all the graphics used in the app, starting with a new app icon. This icon represents a variation on the Mac OS X client app icon, but with the color scheme that we established as the foundation of our new website. Next, we reimagined all of the device status images and considerably expanded them to include both new device types (fans and timers) and a variety of sensor specific images (temperature, humidity, energy usage). We also redesigned existing images to give the app a newer, cleaner design that more appropriately matches the clean and flat appearance of iOS.
One new feature you will notice right away is the Event Log panel. When connected to an Indigo 6.1 server, it provides real time event log updates. This allows you to not only check in to see what Indigo is doing at that moment, but also verify recent actions and troubleshoot problems as they occur. You can also filter on search terms, such as typing "Error" to see all the recent errors, or "Office Lamp" to find all entries related to your office lamp device.
We improved IT2 usability by reducing the number of taps needed to control many of the commonly used devices. We did this by embedding controls in the device list itself so there is no longer the need to tap to get the control popup. Speaking of controls, we decided to use iOS native controls in most places: segmented buttons, sliders, standard buttons (just a word with standard tinting), etc. We discussed a variety of other possibilities, including building our own set of controls. However, we felt that Indigo Touch 2.0 for iOS should maintain a look and feel that is consistent with iOS and can easily evolve and improve as future iOS versions are released.
While we spent time streamlining the number of touches necessary to control devices, we also spent time adding a new device details page (split view on iPads and iPhone 6/6 Plus when in landscape mode) that shows much more detail about devices, including: the last update to the device, model info, protocol/plugin name, module node/address, firmware version, sensor value, and more. And for devices that provide custom state information, we now show all extra custom state values. For example, all weather state condition information that is provided by the various weather plugins is now shown.
We’ve addressed some usability issues with previous versions. The most obvious is screen sizes: IT2 fully supports all shipping iOS device screen sizes including the iPhone 6 Plus. We’ve added an optional Dark/Night theme for those who prefer a dark theme or want a low light solution. We’ve also added optional tap sounds so you know when a control has been touched, and action group executions result in a brief heads-up popup indicating that the action has started.
To expand the design options for building control pages, we’ve added a large collection of graphics that can be used to design great control pages (connect to the Demo Server in IT2 to see a variety of control page designs using the new built-in graphics). We’ve written a wiki article that discusses using these new images to create beautiful control pages. The article also illustrates some design tips to make your pages look great.
One of the things that we really liked about iOS 7 was Helvetica Neue - the default font. It's a beautiful, unobtrusive font. When we redesigned our website last year, we wanted to use it. Unfortunately, it's not free, but we discovered the Lato typeface on Google Fonts. It's quite similar to Helvetica Neue and was actively being updated by its Polish developers. Quick aside: what an amazing time to be living on this planet - where you can tap the creative abilities of talented individuals around the world with so little effort.
The developers expanded Lato significantly last year and we're quite pleased with it on the websites. When we were deciding on the feature set for IT2, adding Lato was near the top of our list. We decided on including just 3 of the 9 styles (plus italic for each). This was primarily because our current font selection mechanism in the control page editor is a single flat menu and we didn't want to overload that menu. This is something we really want to address, but we couldn’t get to it in this release. We believe we picked the right three weights and hope you agree. Based on our testing, Lato renders crisply in the control page editor, on the web-based control pages, and in IT2. We also took this opportunity to greatly improve how IT2 renders fonts on Control Pages, especially when zoomed in – no more pixelated jaggies.
We added a few other goodies, such as additional client navigation options for control pages, improved UI update responsiveness, better authentication (overcoming a variety of iOS 8 bugs in the process), and added the ability to connect to Ad-Hoc Mac WiFi networks when the Mac didn’t have WAN access (great for on-location control of cabins or remote houses that don't have Internet access).
The majority of the rest of the development time was spent, unfortunately, on overcoming significant bugs and issues with iOS 7 and 8. We would have loved to spend the time on even more features, but the fact is that these iOS releases have some non-trivial quality issues which had to be found and worked around. We are hopeful that future iOS releases will address these quality issues.
We’d now like to address something that we’re sure some users will be feeling: I was really hoping for [insert your favorite] feature. We believe this release represents a significant step for the app and is a good balance of new features and building a solid base from which to grow. The two biggest features that we wanted to address, but just didn’t have the time, are Notifications and Geolocation. We fully intend to address these features in upcoming releases. We can’t say when, since we have a lot of other work to do as well, but we are definitely committed to adding these (as well as other) features.
We’d like to thank everyone for their patience as we worked through this significant new update. It took longer that anticipated, and we apologize for letting the app go so long without an update. We believe IT2 is a great iOS App that’s solid, reliable, and ready for the future.
Lastly, we would like to thank all those that helped during the private beta testing period. Dozens of bugs were logged, all supported iOS devices were tested, and tons of great feedback and suggestions were made. Those contributions made a huge impact in the quality and usability of IT2. Thanks everyone!