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Issue 11.3 ('XDC 2013')
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iOS: Status Board

Issue: 11.3 (May/June 2013)
Author: Marc Zeedar
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 5,070
Starting Page Number: 16
Article Number: 11303
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Panic's Status Board is an interesting idea: an iPad app that offers a full-screen of various widgets that provide information such as time, weather, upcoming calendar events, news headlines, Twitter feed, and more. But would I really _use_ it?

To my surprise, I find I'm using Status Board all the time. It's handy to just leave running on your iPad. When you wake the screen, you can quickly see what's going on. It's very configurable, and I'm still revising my setup to learn what works best for my needs. But even with a not-quite-ideal setup, I find I use it every day.

For instance, I have several Twitter accounts but I rarely keep tabs on all the people I follow. But Status Board consolidates all my feeds into one stream—sort of like Mail's unified inbox—so I get an interesting mix of Xojo, soccer, and tech blogger Tweets.

I also rarely visit traditional news sites. But Status Board's news widget shows me the headlines of sites like the New York Times (you can add or delete the sites it displays) and suddenly I'm keeping up with the news. (It's actually how I found out about the Boston bombing within minutes of it happening—normally I wouldn't have heard about it for days.)

Status Board includes a number of good widgets, though some I don't find very useful. For example, you can show a graph on the number of new posts on various websites. Why would I need that? Some of the modules take up an enormous amount of space, too (like the digital clock takes up just as much space as the analog one).

There's also minimal configuration within each module. For instance, I'd love it if I could configure the news module to not show me NYT sports headlines, which don't interest me in the least, but it's all or nothing.

While the rearrangement of modules on the layout is easy, it's not perfect. It's hard to tell the minimum size of modules—they seem to resize as you drag but when you let go, they jump back to the old size, which is annoying. You can't tell if you just didn't do it right or that module just won't go any smaller. It is nice that the landscape and portrait orientations are configured separately; you can design the perfect screen for each.

There are ways to create your own custom modules. One is a simple table view that uses either an HTML table or CSV, while another lets you use any HTML you'd like. Depending on your web programming skills, you could create a module that retrieves info from your company database or other source and displays it dynamically within the app. (You can also link to data in your Dropbox, which makes keeping your Status Board up-to-date easy.)

While Status Board isn't too expensive at $10, that's not exactly trivial, and I was surprised to find that HDMI-out was an additional $10 in-app purchase. Woah. I'm not sure what that offers over using normal Airplay mirroring. It seems excessive, though seeing your Status Board on a big screen TV is pretty cool. (I can imagine some companies using this on a public TV to keep employees informed.)

By far my biggest complaint about Status Board is that web links always open in Safari, not inside the app. When you're just checking out news headlines or Tweets, that's really annoying. And since adding a web view within an app is supposed to be easy on iOS, I can't figure out why that isn't implemented. Hopefully it will be added in an update soon.

The bottom line is that Status Board is far more useful than I expected. I'm still just starting to use it and I haven't done much with the custom module programming but, when I do, I expect it to be even more useful. Recommended.

End of article.