I’m excited to share the news that Black Ink 2 has shipped and is available for immediate download both on the Black Ink home page and from the Mac App Store. As promised, customers who purchased a license to Black Ink 1 on or after January 1, 2018, are entitled to a free upgrade to Black Ink 2. Customers who purchased Black Ink 1 in 2017 or earlier are entitled to a discounted upgrade price.
Black Ink 2.0 is a huge update to the app, featuring a massive overhaul of the puzzle-solving window, support for new accessibility features, and at long last, Dark Mode support for macOS 10.14. Read on to learn more about the changes in this update.
Free For All
One major change that comes with this update is that the app can now be used for free, with no time limit. All the basic features to download and solve puzzles are available, but a few “premium” features are locked and available only to customers who purchase a license. These premium features include:
- Printing puzzles
- Using the puzzle timer
- Checking puzzle answers
- Revealing puzzle answers
These modest limitations leave the app delightfully useful in “free mode,” but I hope that most users will be inspired to purchase a license to unlock the extra behaviors and to help support development of the app. Additional premium features may be added in the future.
Every aspect of the puzzle-solving window has been rethought, from the elimination of the outdated “drawers” for the clue lists, to painstaking improvements to how the elements of the puzzle grid are drawn. One of my goals with Black Ink is that it embraces the aesthetic joy of working with crossword puzzles, and to that end the puzzle itself must be as beautiful as I can possibly make it.
Folks who enjoy running macOS 10.14 or later in Dark Mode will appreciate the new Dark Mode puzzle grid, drawn mostly with a combination of black and grey, with white text only for the most pertinent aspects of the puzzle: the clues and your answers.
I’m excited to finally offer VoiceOver support for the puzzle grid. Believe it or not, I have been wanting to add this for over 12 years, but whenever I sat down to tackle the problem it just seemed … too hard. There are aspects to a crossword puzzle that defy the usual assumptions about what elements on a screen represent. I ended up making my best effort at addressing the challenges, and I hope the VoiceOver community finds it usable. In any case, I consider this a “1.0” as far as VoiceOver support is concerned, and will be eager to hear feedback from folks in the VoiceOver community once they’ve had time to give it a spin.
Separately from the all-new VoiceOver support, Black Ink 2.0 now correctly handles “focus follows zoom”, so folks who benefit from solving with the Mac’s overall screen zoomed in can enjoy the benefits of the zoom area moving automatically to reveal the currently focused word.
Lots of little improvements have been made to “the little things” in Black Ink that make solving that much more of a joy. Nuanced behaviors in tabbing forwards and backwards in the puzzle, such as answers marked incorrect being treated as “empty” so you can easily navigate to them to re-solve them. Relatedly: the home and end keys now navigate to the beginning and end of the focused word, respectively.
Finally, puzzles that have notes from the author attached to them are now much easier to spot. Where previously you had to look for a “Show Notes” menu item, Black Ink 2 will now prompt you when opening a puzzle that has notes. If you choose to view them, you can either dismiss the notes, or drag them off into a separate window for easy reference as you solve the puzzle.
A Fresh Start
I’m excited to share Black Ink 2 with the world, and see it as a great baseline for continued development of the app. Here’s to crossword puzzles, their beautiful aesthetic, and the joy of solving them on a Mac.