Despite the effort I put into keeping my Mac tidy, the thing that most helps me to quickly glean information from my computer is—ironically—its clutter. Open up the lid and everything you could possibly need is there: my inbox, still open. Facebook in the menu bar and the Calendar app in the background.
At those pressed moments, all the clutter on my computer contributes to a single purpose: handily shoving information into my face. It doesn’t matter what you’re looking for, the answers are all there.
It’s both a good and a bad thing that the iPad, with its sandboxing structure, does not leave room for much clutter. The answer, then, is a form of structured clutter. A dashboard gathering and organising information from a multitude of sources, allowing you to access your data at any time. There aren’t too many dashboard-like apps for iOS, but we’ve managed to find a few gems nonetheless.
My Dashboard ($0.99)
My Dashboard is a simple, but very gratifying iOS dashboard app, available for both the iPhone and iPad. The app looks almost like a tablet within a tablet, with a beautiful array of widgets to keep you informed and entertained. My Dashboard will automatically sync with your calendar accounts to populate the in-app calendar and list of events. A music player is also included, which allows you to browse through and play any music from your iPad without leaving the app.
You can flick left and right to different screens of widgets, just as you would flick through different home screens on your iPad. You can name, style, and populate these screens yourself, choosing from a decent range of widgets including: RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Calendar, YouTube, Photos and more.
A work pack can be unlocked for an additional cost of $0.99, adding Gmail, a check list and notes widgets into the mix. Considering the presentation, it wouldn’t surprise me if more of these premium packs are to come.
Status Board ($9.99)
You may know Panic from such iPad apps as Coda and Transmit, some of the most critically acclaimed Mac apps. Before, they’ve only ventured to the iOS platform to release a light version of their coding client: Diet Coda. But only recently, Panic released a new, iOS-only dashboard application. You’ve guessed it: Status Board.
Status Board connects to a wide variety of services. To populate your dashboard, you can add the default items: clocks, calendars and weather indicators. You can also include email, RSS feeds, CSV or HTML tables, Twitter feeds and graphs.
Yes, graphs. Status Board let’s you create graphs about almost any of the data that’s being run through the app. Because dashboards are intended to get a quick grasp on a lot of data, this is a surprisingly useful feature. This way, you can create graphs about the people sending you email, or even about your followers on Twitter.
Google Now (via Google Search)
The Google Search app was already something of an oddity, because it provided access to the wide variety of Google apps from within a single iOS app. Only recently, Google has added Google Now to its Google Search iOS app which can be accessed by swiping up from the bottom of the screen.
Google Now, in case you’re unfamiliar with the project, pulls data from your device and uses your search history to generate an always-relevant dashboard, meticulously hand-crafted to fit what you’re looking for.
This Google Now dashboard is populated with so-called Cards, generated automatically. For example, sports scores will appear if there’s a big game going on, and you usually search for sports scores. Weather options will appear for your location. Translation and currency conversion tools pop up when you’re abroad. If you’re at an airport, you may even see the current time tables.
My Dashboard, Status Board and Google Now are three completely different dashboard kinds. Status Board looks like it might be best suited for business people. The price indicates something similar. You can’t go wrong with My Dashboard if you just want to tune in to your Calendar, Facebook and Email accounts in one spot. Google Now is great for a location and context specific dashboard, but you can’t be squeamish about your search history.
What fits your bill? Let us know in the comments section below the article!