Published on April 4, 2009

If you’ve downloaded my iPhone and iPod Touch icon Photoshop template in the past, you may want to re-download it, as a larger version has been added. It now comes with the standard 57×57 iPhone springboard template as well as a 512×512 version for producing iTunes-ready artwork.

Published on March 27, 2009

If you’re an avid fmTuner user, or just have a need to make some flat music album covers pop off the page, check out Rogie King’s in-depth tutorial on how to make gorgeous web-ready image overlays. Complete with a free set of covers you can use anywhere and the necessary CSS (even IE6 fixes), Rogie’s tutorial will have your displayed albums looking shiny and spectacular in no time!

Published on March 21, 2009

So you’re curious about the contents of iPhone and iPod Touch apps, including artwork, sounds, and more? Here’s how to dig into an application and see what goodies are hidden inside. Standard copyrights still apply.

Sync Your Apps with iTunes

Assuming you already have the target application on your iPhone or iPod Touch (just “iPhone” from this point forward for brevity’s sake), simply sync your iPhone with your Mac or PC. Doing so will backup your device and transfer any purchased applications in both directions. With the target application now on your computer, navigate to your iTunes “Mobile Applications” folder, where iTunes typically does its own file housekeeping. Under Mac OS X, the default location is /Users/yourname/Music/iTunes/Mobile Applications/.

Unzip an App

Copy your target .ipa-suffixed application to a different location, ensuring that the original stays in the Mobile Applications folder to keep iTunes happy. To get inside the application, rename its extension to .zip. Open the zip file, and you will have access to the guts of the app (except the source code, of course).

High-res App Artwork

Directly inside the unzipped application folder, you’ll find a file named “iTunesArtwork”, with no extension. A hex editor revealed that the file is typically a jpeg image, so rename it to include .jpg at the end, and you’ll end up with the same 512×512 pixel artwork displayed by iTunes when browsing downloaded Applications.

To get at other resources, open up the adjacent “Payload” folder, and you’ll find a .app file — the application bundle that runs on the iPhone. Right- or Control-click on the .app, and choose “Show Package Contents” to open up the bundle.

Sounds

Sounds are typically found among the many resources directly inside the application as files with extensions like .caf, .mp3, .aif, and .m4a. At this point, the organizational structure is up to the application’s developer, so you may need to look around a little. Leopard’s QuickLook feature is a boon in times like this, helping assess a file’s purpose without opening half a dozen applications.

Other Graphics

Also nestled inside iPhone applications are many of the graphics used throughout the app. It’s possible that some may be drawn by code, but complex graphics are generally stored as images. However, viewing the images isn’t as easy as renaming the files as before. This will be a bit trickier, as the iPhone works some magic on the images before finishing the app build process, leaving images in an iPhone-optimized state. Fortunately, the process can be reversed with a little bit of Terminal trickery:

  1. Copy all .png images to a new folder elsewhere. Images of other formats (.jpg, .gif, etc.) should be readily viewable.
  2. Download David Watanabe’s modified iPhonePNG command-line application, unzip the archive, and open up Terminal from your /Applications/Utilities folder.
  3. Type cd , then drop the iPhonePNG folder into the Terminal, and tap Return to switch to that folder.
  4. Type ./iPhonePNG , drop the folder of encoded images into the Terminal, and tap Return to decode the whole folder full of images.
  5. The output folder sites beside iPhonePNG, so type open . and tap Return (open space dot) to open the current folder (a dot, in Unix terms) in the Finder. Open the decoded images folder and have a look around!
Published on January 8, 2009

The Firebug team has been hard at work squashing bugs and making Firefox 3 related improvements, culminating in the release of Firebug 1.3.0 yesterday. Some of the notable changes include:

  • Better debugging performance when dealing with large JavaScript files
  • More reliable ‘console’ object for logging
  • Alphabetized DOM properties
  • Added localizations
  • Over 50 bug fixes

After some minor modifications, Widerbug 1.3.0 is ready for use on your widescreen display in its signature 2-up layout, complete with all the changes from above. As usual, head over to the Widerbug page to grab the latest version (please leave comments and note any bugs on that page).

Published on January 5, 2009

Several years ago, I recommended RadTech’s IceCreme as a great solution for cleaning up your iPod’s scratched-up screen. While I still stand by my results and recommendation, IceCreme isn’t the sort of thing you can find at a nearby store, and is also a little pricey. Removing scratches from iPods and other pocket-bound electronics remains a common problem, so I thought it would be worthwhile to test some of the other available options. Additionally, since nicks and scratches occur on more than just the screen, we’ll also test the solutions elsewhere on an iPod.

For this little experiment, I chose three solutions offering varying levels of abrasiveness: Colgate toothpaste, Brasso metal polish, and Easy-Off oven cleaner. All three promise to leave their intended surfaces shiny and clean, and in the case of the latter two, free of scratches. We’ll see how each fares when put to use on both the front plastic and back metal of an iPod. To keep things clear, each polish will be used in a masked-off area, hopefully leaving a clear division among the results.

The target iPod is an already well-used 4G 20GB iPod, with most of its still working inner parts removed and replaced with padding just to help sustain its form while being polished. Donated to the cause, this iPod will be beat up even further, with even layers of light scratches, heavy scratches, and deep cuts, simluating everything from normal wear to keychain induced destruction. It has surely seen better days, and is now destined for that great Apple Retail Store in the sky, all in the name of science.

I started with Brasso first, since it has been recommended many times since my last scratch removal post, both by commenters and firsthand accounts. If you’re attempting this yourself, be sure to work in a well ventilated area, as Brasso smells very strongly of ammonia, and might start to irritate your eyes after a short while!

iPod with brasso

After only five minutes of polishing, the results were quite good, with nearly all of the light and medium scratches completely removed from the screen area. Deeper cuts remained, though their rough edges were significantly smoother.

iPod after brasso

Toothpaste was next on the list, and while it left the iPod minty fresh with a sparkling shine, its scratch-reducing effects were barely noticeable. Due to its sticky consistency, it was also more difficult to polish with than the more liquid Brasso, yielding poorer results for double the effort — a total flop.

Oven cleaner was last, and I really had no idea what to expect with it. Claiming to leave glassy surfaces shiny and free of scratches, it sounded like a possible winner. As it turns out, it’s not much more than a repackaged kitchen cleaner, resulting in a streak-free but still heavily scratched iPod. I’ll end up cleaning my glass top oven with this one, and nothing else.

With the front of the iPod clearly showing Brasso as the top choice, it was time to see what worked best on the scratched metal backing of the iPod.

iPod scratched back

Again, after just a few minutes with each polish, Brasso came out on top, while the other two trailed woefully behind. The Brasso-polished back still had quite a few scratches, though far less pronounced than when I started. All of them, including the deep cuts, had a very slick feel, whereas the others still left the surface pretty rough.

iPod comparison

Convinced that Brasso was the right choice, I went back and finished off the front, cleaning up all but the most severe marks on the screen.

iPod front after brasso

Given the results of my tests, I can easily recommend Brasso as a great iPod polishing solution that can be had for under $3 at your local stores. A full complement of high-resolution photos can be found in the Flickr photoset, detailing the starting scratches and wildly different results.