Anemo: Quick Reply the Apple Way
For jailbreakers, quick-reply is something of a litmus test. Over the years, there have been quite a few tools released that try to aim to give users a way to respond to SMS without interrupting whatever they’re doing at the moment—and the solution you choose can say a lot about you. And if you’re jailbroken, you almost certainly have found something to use, whether it’s a quick-reply tool that tries to mimic the look of the stock Messages app (see Messages and Messages+), or a full-on app replacement like BiteSMS.
Now we have another option. Anemo is a new quick-reply tool for iOS from the A³tweaks design and development team, makers of Auxo, Aplo, and other well-received tweaks and themes. And for the Apple-centric jailbreaker—one who prefers that his tweaks disappear into the native design experience—Anemo might be the best option yet.
As it currently stands, the tweak is pretty bare-bones, offering only a drop down quick-reply sheet that users can invoke by tapping an icon on an incoming SMS banner alert. That’s it, for now. The developers are promising an update that should bring more features, but for many, I suspect the tweak is nearly perfect as is—while so many QR tweaks overdo their design (bringing in animated popup windows or a fullscreen messaging UI), Anemo feels like a truly native solution that is fully in line with the iOS design style: light, smooth, and intuitive. It does what it needs to do and gets out of the way, and while it doesn’t exactly mimic anything in iOS, it feels more native than many tweaks that do.
There is still room for improvement, although it’s likely that the promised update will cover most of my quibbles. For now, the tweak doesn’t offer any way to reply to SMS from the lock screen, and it doesn’t include any sort of Quick Compose option, only the ability to reply. (Both features are included in the coming update; for now I can confirm that it’s possible to use BiteSMS for those features while still using Anemo for quick reply.) One other addition I wouldn’t mind seeing is the ability to send MMS from the quick reply drop down—right now there is no way to attach a photo to a reply.
But besides those minor points, Anemo feels like a well-designed release, and one that was obviously well thought-out in terms of UI. (For a sense of just how much thought has gone into it, check out the initial concept that designer Sentry first posted to The Verge nearly a year ago.) As a long time BiteSMS user, one of my main complaints has always been about that app’s overstuffed UI—while it has a huge number of features, I rarely use the vast majority of them, and so have little need of the app’s many buttons (FaceTime, Templates, Skype, etc), which end up cluttering the interface and detracting from the experience of using it. But what it does it does well enough that I’ve stuck with it, using 3rd-party themes to try and make the Bite UI blend in a bit better with the native experience.
Anemo, by contrast, gets it exactly right, right out of the box—so much so that for the first time in years, I’ve got a new quick-reply tweak. And this time, I don’t think I’ll be looking back.
Note: the keyboard shown in the screenshots above is the FlatIcons ColorKeyboard theme “FlatKeyboard iPhone 5”; it is not included with Anemo.