Matt Gemmell

TOLL is available now!

An action-thriller novel — book 2 in the KESTREL series.

★★★★★ — Amazon

Favorites for iOS 4

development, favorites for iphone, interface, software & user experience 2 min read

The new version of my app Favorites for iPhone has been approved and is now in the App Store; you can get it here. This version requires iOS 4 or later, and is a free upgrade if you already have it (if you don’t, it’s $2 or equivalent). I’ve made a number of improvements in this version, and I wanted to briefly mention some of them.

I’d like to start by mentioning three very important new features (“tent-pegs”, if you will).


First up, Favorites has been compiled against the iOS 4 SDK, so it will participate in “multi-tasking”, i.e. it won’t need to launch from scratch each time you use it, and you can flip back and forth to it using the app switcher on iOS 4 (on supported devices, namely iPhone 3GS or iPhone 4).

That’s a minor thing in terms of effort on my part, but makes an enormous difference to actual day-to-day use.

Retina Display

Second, Favorites fully supports the new Retina Display on iPhone 4. All your contacts’ photos will be shown at the best possible resolution, and all of Favorites’ graphics, icons and drawing code have been updated appropriately.

It looks very, very nice on an iPhone 4; if you have one, you should give it a try. Here’s a (slightly scaled down!) preview:

Favorites main screen showing grid of favorites.

Accessibility via VoiceOver

Thirdly, and this is the one I’m most proud of by a mile, Favorites is now fully accessible to blind and visually impaired users via VoiceOver, the accessibility technology built into iOS. All functionality of the app should be accessible, and I think it works pretty well.

I made a video discussing some of the new accessibility support; you can watch it on YouTube, and it’s also embedded below - it’s best if you watch it full-screen.


If you’re a visually impaired user and would like to provide feedback on Favorites’ accessibility support, get in touch via the contact page at Instinctive Code.

Other New Features

  • New style of display for names, including larger, brighter text, and more sensible clipping of long names.
  • During initial launch (which will be very rare on multi-tasking-capable devices running iOS 4), all contacts will show their names until their pictures have loaded.
  • All of the Favorites settings which were previously in are now also in Favorites itself.
  • Wallpaper of your choice can now be shown behind the grid of favorites (this setting is only available inside Favorites itself, not in


  • Performance optimizations, particularly when dragging favorites around.
  • Increased visual contrast for labels, button-borders, lists of phone-numbers/email-addresses, and more.
  • Made the overlay action-button highlight colours more vivid and distinct.
  • Favorites without pictures will now always show the person’s name, for easy identification.
  • The label-editing view now opens automatically if a custom label is tapped and still has the default value.
  • The info (“i”) button on the main screen is now easier to hit.
  • Fixed an issue where contacts’ images could be incorrectly rotated on iOS 4 (often by ninety degrees counter-clockwise).

I really hope you’ll enjoy this new version of Favorites; Lauren and I (and thousands of others, I might add) use it every day. Every feature is there for a good reason (especially the absent features, like multiple pages of contacts). I find it a very quick, efficient and understandable way to contact my most frequently needed family members, friends and colleagues, and I don’t feel like I need to fight with Favorites as I sometimes do with the Phone app.

You can find out more at the Instinctive Code site or you can go directly to Favorites on the App Store. (Oh, and if you do enjoy it, feel free to share your thoughts via a review on the App Store. :)

If you need support with Favorites or want to request a feature or send feedback, you can either visit the support site at GetSatisfaction (preferred), or get in touch directly via the Instinctive Code site linked above.

Remember that you can also keep up to date by following me (mattgemmell) on Twitter.