auki for iPhone review: iOS 7 quick reply the way Apple would have done it

auki is a jailbreak app for iPhone that provides quick-reply functionality for messages. That means that, with auki, you don't have to spend time switching to and from the Messages app. You can reply to and compose messages from anywhere on the iPhone, be it the Home screen or from inside another app or game. Anywhere. That might sound similar to other jailbreak apps like BiteSMS, but auki takes a different approach, and one I'd really like to see Apple consider for iOS 8.

Firstly, there's no preferences panel for auki. Say what?! Yeah, no preferences panel. While I would like the option to be able to turn auki off if I choose, auki and the nature of how it functions doesn't really warrant a preferences panel. When Surenix announced auki from JailbreakCon, he placed a heavy emphasis on the fact that himself and Bensge designed what they thought was a simple, elegant, and refined messaging experience that just works. In that aspect they've succeeded. I can see auki being something that Apple themselves would consider when trying to solve the problem of creating a quick reply and quick compose solution. Whether or not it's similar to what we'll actually see is anyone's guess. If we ever do see it direct from Apple.

The real beauty of auki lies in how it works. Unless you need auki, it stays out of the way. The default Messages app remains the way we've always known it. auki's quick compose feature can be invoked in one of two ways — either by setting an action with Activator or by launching Notification Center. If you choose the Notification Center method, just swipe down from any section in order to bring up an auki quick compose window. Just type your message and off it goes. Quick compose windows in auki also support image upload, but only in portrait mode, at least for now.

By far my favorite feature of auki — well actually two awesome concepts rolled into one — is Silent mode. In your Messages app, swipe like you would to delete a message thread and you'll notice the addition of a new button, Silent. Tap it and that thread becomes greyed out. Any incoming messages from that person are then silenced completely. You'll still receive them, you just won't be bothered by notifications for them. Not only that, Silent Mode automatically enables another mode called Stealth Mode. While in Silent Mode, the person on the other end can no longer view when you've read a message, or see when you're typing something. Stealth Mode is the equivalent of turning on and off read receipts on the fly, but only for specific contacts. I've tested it with several other iPhone users, jailbroken and pure, and it works beautifully. auki can also auto-detect whether or not contacts are using iMessage or regular SMS. Send button colors are then updated on the fly just like they are in the native Messages app so you know in a quick compose window what kind of message you're sending.

The good

  • Great design aesthetic
  • No setup, extra icons, or tweaking needed, just start using auki
  • Stealth mode lets you type and read messages without the other side knowing, and that's awesome
  • Activator lets you customize exactly how you want to trigger auki for quick compose

The bad

  • No way to disable auki due to the lack of a preferences pane
  • No preferences pane means no customizing the way auki works
  • No way to add a passcode like other apps such as BiteSMS allow

The bottom line

If Apple had deployed a solution for quick reply and quick compose in iOS 7, I'm fairly certain it would have been similar to what auki brings to the table. For folks that like the Messages app and just want to make it better, look no further than auki. That being said, auki won't please everyone. If you want passcodes and tons of customizations in the message handling department, the king is still BiteSMS. I've never been one to use many of the advanced features of BiteSMS so auki fits my needs beautifully.

For anyone who wants a no fuss messaging solution that improves upon the current Messages app without over-complicating things, I'd highly recommend giving auki a try. And if you do, be sure to let me know what you think of it in the comments!