Are you the kind of very important person that needs to have one eye on stock prices every second? Are you constantly juggling appointments so much that opening up a dedicated calendar app to see when you’re free is just not efficient enough? You’re a very busy person, I know that. Panic Status Board ($10) is here to help. Now you can use your iPad to keep an eye on all of the things, all the time.
Status Board began life as a Panic blog post 3 years ago, when the team showed off a gorgeous at-a-glance graphic display they’d coded up in HTML for a big screen TV in the office. It showed email workload; project statuses; bus calendars; employee tweets and more – just a little productivity hack they’d throw together. Now they’ve released an iPad app that lets you do the same.
Right off the bat, Status Board reminds me of the OS X Dashboard – a full screen of widgets. I should note I’ve completely disabled the OS X dashboard for being so utterly useless. Is Status Board destined to suffer the same “wrath of James” fate? Read on to find out.
The first time you launch, you’ll be greeted by elevator music and a skeumorphic paper manual like the kind you might get with a new TV, complete with standards and approvals logos. It’s a quirky little touch and I like it. While reading, you’ll be asked to grant access to your location info and Twitter account.
The manual goes over the basics for how to create your own layout and how to add some widgets. Pre-defined configurable widgets are:
- Clock and weather (Celsius or Fahrenheit, uses your location)
- Email (IMAP only, POP accounts are not supported)
Each has a few options such as the ability to display a simple list of emails or some basic stats like total email count, and multiple accounts can be added to the same view. Most of them can also be resized, weather being the notable exception.
The Secret ‘Sauces’
Where the iPad app really shines is it’s ability to take third party sources – web APIs, commonly provided in JSON format (generated locally on your PC and uploaded to Dropbox, for example) – and create graph, table, or DIY views. If you can code it, and you have a data source, you can display anything you want. The DIY view is the most flexible, and basically amounts to embedding a webpage or dynamic graphic.
User modules range from the useful BaseCamp task updates, this rather snazzy London Underground tube status and live departures board, to the mundane and worthless “ “. You could embed a dynamic lolcat if you really wanted.
Thanks to a unique URL scheme, installing a new widget can be as easy as clicking on the link from your iPad browser, which will then launch the Status Board app and automatically configure the DIY or relevant widget.
Standard AirPlay mirroring at 4:3 is available for free, but for HDTV widescreen output, a separate in-app purchase is required for $20. This feels quite cheeky given that it’s already a $10 app, but the developers claim the HD purchase is aimed at “professionals” – a standard output should be fine for most people.
The ability to send a complete configured Status Board to someone else is nice touch which could really be useful in corporate environment where pre-defined data sources are required for everyone. Currently you’re limited to one board at a time, but a workaround is to create all the boards you need, email them to yourself, then just click each one when you need to switch.
Status Board isn’t the only Dashboard app for the iPad, though it is arguably the best (you’ll find more of our Best iPad App picks here). There’s a big community out there and the number of modules is probably in the thousands at this point.
Whether it’s actually of any real world use is still debatable. If you have a big TV and you want to look important for visiting clients, this app is impressive eye candy. You’re limited only by your own coding skills, or existing data sources. Personally, I’m not a fan of multiple monitors, and I’m still struggling to find a compelling use case for this – maybe I’ll try it for displaying tweets on the next Technophilia live broadcast.
Download: PanicStatusboard for iPad ($10)
Are you running StatusBoard? Is it a critical fixture of your workspace now, or just a desk toy? What modules do you have displayed?