Status Board: An iPad Dashboard App (Finally) Done Right

When it was teased on their home page a couple of days back, forums and blogs around the world exploded with rumours about what the new app from the “shockingly good software developers” Panic was going to be. And today, those rumours have been debunked. Panic have released an iPad dashboard app, innocently named Status Board, making it the sixth app from these acclaimed developers.

Panic’s foray into iOS app development has been limited to Diet Coda (which we reviewed back in June 2012) and Prompt, an SSH client for the iPhone and iPad, however Status Board marks a radical shift towards more consumer-orientated apps — something which your dear author appreciates terribly. Their reputation for making functionality and features sexy at the same time is something that has grabbed everybody’s attention, and Status Board is absolutely no exception to this.

Read on for our full review and thoughts on this new app.

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Getting Started

The concept of Status Board is certainly nothing new and there are hundreds of iPad apps out there in the App Store that will do pretty much the same for you — give you an overview of the time, your upcoming events, emails, Twitter stream and so on. But to me, most of these apps look like they were knocked together over a lunch break and in most cases, they have completely neglected something which makes iPad apps what they are — the design of them. Status Board breaks this status quo with its radical new interface and design, and it’s mighty impressive.

StatusBoard Tutorial

If there was an award for the “Sexiest Tutorial”, Status Board would probably win it by a mile.

Upon launching the app, you are greeted with a quick tutorial on setting up the app — set to a soundtrack that wouldn’t sound out of place in a hospital waiting room or in a elevator. If there was an award for “Best Tutorial” then Status Board‘s would be high up, if not at the top of, my list. The app was a joy to set up — all I had to do was grant Status Board access to my calendar, Twitter accounts and contacts (you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to) and allow it set up my e-mail account.

Currently, the app only works with IMAP-based accounts and you’ll have to know the server address before you start configuring it (there’s no quick set for the most popular e-mail accounts — something which I would have liked to see), but it took no time at all and I was up and running in a few seconds.

Features

StatusBoard certainly has more features than you can shake a stick at — and they’re all wrapped up in one beautiful design package.

StatusBoard Main Interface

The main default interface of Status Board.

After you’ve gone through the tutorial, the default interface is loaded, as you can see in the screenshot above. Running along the top row, you’ve got the local weather, the current time and upcoming appointments from your calendar (that’s if you granted Status Board access to it, though). The middle bar shows important upcoming events (in this case, birthdays from my Facebook friends) and on the bottom left, you’ve got a summary of your latest e-mails and on the bottom right: a news feed from popular sources (more on customising this in a bit).

The interface is incredibly slick and looks simply beautiful on the iPad’s retina display which the app has been fully optimised for. For the e-mail widget, I would have liked to be able to tap on the message to be directed to the message in Mail.app, allowing me to deal with it directly and I hope that this feature is implemented in a future release. Having said that, Status Board does give you a quick overview of almost everything without having to flick back and forth between different apps, so job well done here, I think.

Customisation

This is where Status Board really comes alive and is, in my opinion, the best part of the app. Tapping on the little cog icon in the top-left hand corner brings up a dock that isn’t too dissimilar to that on OS X and iOS and you can drag individual icons onto your dashboard to create a new module. Dragging an existing module off deletes it straight away.

StatusBoard Customisation

Customising your dashboard on Status Board. 

From left to right along the dock, the icons are as follows:

  • Clock — add a clock to your dashboard in either analogue or digital format. You can have as many clocks as you want (e.g. for different time zones) and Status Board will label each one with its location. With this release, there’s unfortunately no way to change between 12 and 24-hour time format — it depends on your settings within iOS.
  • Weather — this adds a 4-day forecast to your dashboard. Like the clock, you can have multiple locations, though you can’t switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit — this again depends on your regional settings within iOS. The developers, however, are aware of this and plan to add support for both formats in a future release.
  • Calendar — a list of your events or a ticker pops up. If you’ve got multiple calendars, then you can choose which ones pop up.
  • Email — this can display either a list of your e-mails, an unread and/or total message count and you can also plot how many e-mails you’ve received each hour or day graphically.
  • Twitter — add either a list or ticker of your tweets, timeline, list of follows, mentions, search terms or lists to your dashboard.
  • RSS feeds — pretty self explanatory, really. Again you can choose between a list or ticker view, and StatusBoard includes a couple of popular feeds, including The Verge, Daring Fireball and Macworld.
  • Graph –– you can create your own graph for pretty much everything and Status Board includes StatHat and HockeyApp support, as well as support for data in two sets: CSV and JSON. To find out more, check out their helpful online tutorial.
  • Table — as with the graph above, you can create and display tables in either CSV or HTML view. The helpful folks over at Panic have created another little tutorial for you to peruse as well.
  • Do-It-Yourself — display whatever you want in this tile! The default one is “How many people are in space right now?” (the answer, at the time of writing, is 6) but again there’s a useful tutorial to guide you through creating your own.

In the Edit view, tapping on any widget brings up a list of options so you can customise it. You can also long-tap on it and drag it around or rearrange and resize it (note, though, some widgets cannot be resized) to suit your tastes.

Editing a widget in Status Board.

AirPlay

Status Board also supports AirPlay (if you have an Apple TV) and can display your dashboard on your home TV via your local wireless network. Unfortunately, as I don’t currently own an Apple TV, I couldn’t test this feature out for this review but I am assured that it is pretty impressive.

StatusBoard Airplay

AirPlay support is available via a one-off in-app purchase of $9.99. 

AirPlay support doesn’t come for free, though, and is available via an in-app purchase of $9.99. You can grab it by clicking on the Edit cog in the top-left hand corner then on the little monitor icon on the right-hand side of the screen.

Final Thoughts

Status Board seems to me as an app that says, “Up yours!” to Apple — as it proves that widgets on the iPad do work. Steve Jobs famously hated them and, judging by the numerous iOS 7 concepts that have been circulating the Internet over the past few weeks, they are a feature that would be dearly welcomed by iPhone and iPad users worldwide. I wouldn’t be half-surprised if, at the announcement of the next iPad, Status Board was gracing the presence of the new model’s screen in the keynote — it really is the kind of app you want to gloat about to your friends (and anyone who doesn’t own an iPad).   

I rarely get the pleasure of reviewing an app that is so slick and functional as Status Board and the developers have executed everything within the app almost perfectly. There are a couple of little issues, such as the fact you can’t tap on an e-mail (like I mentioned above) to take you directly to Mail.app, but these can certainly be excused when we look at Status Board overall. It is a marvellous piece of work.

One criticism that I do have is the inability to create multiple dashboards. I would have, for example, liked to create a personal dashboard for my own affairs and one for iPad.AppStorm stuff and been able to flick back and forth between them, instead of having everything lumped onto one. As a first release, though, I can excuse it but it is something that I would like to see implemented in a future update.

Status Board is a little pricey at $9.99 but I can see myself using this daily — and that to me is a small price to pay for such a great app. Panic’s apps have never been cheap (Diet Coda, for example, retailed at $19.99) but you pay for the quality and design that goes their creations, and if they’re going to be churning out more great apps like Status Board, then my money is far better off in their bank accounts rather than mine. 

Expensive though it is, Status Board is worth every single penny and I can see great things happening to this app in the not-too-distant future. Watch this space.


Summary

A dashboard app for your iPad featuring a number of beautifully-designed widgets and functions.

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