By now I am somewhat famous for my slowness in adopting the iOS platforms for my major apps: MarsEdit and Black Ink. The truth is I have been working on these releases for years, but it’s also true that work has been intermittent as I refocus on Mac versions of my apps and on other commitments in my life.
One of those other commitments has been raising a small family. My son, Henry, will become a big-brother in a matter of hours or days, and in honor of that I’ve decided to update my only shipping iOS app: Shush.
Shush 1.0 was a simple, dare I say embarrassingly simple, project that came out of our interest as new parents in Harvey Karp’s Happiest Baby on the Block techniques for soothing infants in the first few months of life. Among the bag of tricks is shushing the baby, creating white noise with your mouth: “Shhh.” While this trick worked for us, it became a little exhausting to make the noise for as long as it seemed helpful to Baby Henry.
For the new baby, I anticipate using Shush again, so I decided to give it a facelift. I had imagined over the years since I first released it that it would be fun to have it embrace some of the iPhone’s playfulness and provide a highly skeuomorphic television-set style design. This is Shush 2.0:
Don’t get me wrong: I know I won’t win any graphic-design awards for this, although it represents a peak of my skills in that area. Those of you who remember Shush 1.0 will probably consider this at least slightly more visually appealing. I tried to maintain the simplicity of Shush 1.0 while livening up the interface. I actually simplified a bit by removing the “Start/Stop” button. To turn Shush 2.0 off, you just slide the volume to its lowest position. To make the TV metaphor work, Shush is locked to landscape orientation. But I positioned the slider so it would be easily and intuitively navigated with the thumb while “holding the phone wrong” in an upright position.
Also new in this release are Shush’s ability to make static noise in the background while you continue to use your iPhone or iPad. I imagine this will be handy especially for parents who want to produce that sweet, soothing static, but would also like to so catch up on Instapaper, Twitter, or whatever while they’re cradling the baby.
Finally, that skeuomorphic television static actually provides something of a hypnotic animated effect. Some users may find the visual display useful either for lulling themselves or for distracting and amusing a baby. From a technical standpoint I’m particularly proud of the effect. Inspired by a suggestion from Mike Ash, I implemented the static animation as an OpenGL Shader, so it runs almost entirely on the iPhone’s GPU. This means it is extremely efficient and not liable to slow down your phone or gobble up your battery. If you don’t like the TV static or just want to save even more power while Shushing, you can put the display to sleep and Shush keeps on Shushing.
I hope you enjoy Shush 2.0. Let me know if you give it a try or have feedback about my decisions in redesigning this simple application. To answer the inevitable question: yes, MarsEdit and Black Ink are still under development for iOS!