One would think that with more than 300,000 native iPad apps out there, everything that could be thought of has been thought of. Not quite. Status Board from Panic, Inc. creates a customizable display and platform in the form of a status board that's amazingly easy easy to use and will likely have all kinds of unanticipated uses. For now, out of the box, it's simple, fun, highly customizable and informative.
The name Status Board pretty much sumes it up. Think of all the essential information you need each day at glance: the weather, the time, your appointments, your email, a news feed, Twitter updates, and so on.
Then combine that with a drag-and-drop, intuitive interface that allows you to design your own layout, potentially different in landscape and portrait mode, and you have the idea behind Status Board. Here's a simple Status Board page that's close to the default but with some customizations of my own.
But there's much more. Status Board, by Panic, Inc. was designed to be a platform so that users could design their own data sources. Imagine linking to your eCommerce Website and generating a sales per minute number. Then, continuously graph that data for an up-to-the minute status of your business.
Click the small gear on the top left to make the page editable. If you don't like one the panes, just drag it to the edge until the trash can icon appears. Poof. The icons at the bottom have text popups that explain their functions. Just drag the icon to an area on the home page and let go. Tap it to customize or drag the bottom right of the pane to resize.
Just drag an icon to an open area and resize to order.
The idea for the app came from Panic's own in-house need for such an app. This photo from the company's blog shows it pressed into service on a larger HDTV display.
Send the data to an HDTV for the whole office to see.
Speaking of large displays, an in-app purchase allows you to extend the capability of the app to connect, via HDMI, to an external display directly or you can work via an Apple TV and Airplay. That feature costs an additional US$9.99.
I particularly liked the black background and the complementary, low key technical colors used in the design of the app. Also, if you already have Twitter or email accounts set up on the iPad, SB will automatically draw from that data. With your permission.
There are several ways you can display your own data. One is a "Do It Yourself" technique that our own Webmaster, Adam Christianson, has showcased. It provides a panel for Apple [AAPL] stock. Just click on his link in the article (in mobile Safari on your iPad), and it will load into Status Board.
If you want to cobble together graphical or tabular data, you can create your own data source and then link to the URL. Our managing editor, Jeff Gamet, has written a how-to article, "Building Your Own Status Board for iPad Module."
Right now, the graph and table icons link to sample data, but there is no, as of yet, standard library of sample data. However, Panic's blog has some links to custom data sources that may be of interest to you. The nice thing about a platform like Status Board is that data sources and tools for creating data sources are likely to proliferate quickly.
Some early customers in the App Store complained of crashes, but I didn't experience any. But then, I have a custom of quitting all my apps, installing, and doing a hard reboot after I install an app that looks like it could be complex. Status Board hasn't crashed on me yet.
When you first launch Status Board, a series of visual pages popup to get you started. After that, there's really nothing more to know in the basic operation. Simplicity and intuitiveness nicely take the place of wordy documentation. However, once you run through the tutorial, it's not easy to see it again. You can go to iOS Settings -> Status Board and "reset" the app on next launch, but that will also wipe out your current SB configuration. The developer said that continuing access to the tutorial is something to consider for the future. One solution is to take screen shots at each stage, as I did.
At launch, an opening sequence provides a quick tutorial (3 shown, 4 pages total).
In edit mode, a share button allows you to either send feedback to panic or send the actual current status board in an e-mail. If the recipient clicks on the attachment, it will load into their own copy of SB. There's a warm place in my heart for developers, especially in iOS, who provide a direct e-mail link for feedback and bug reporting.
Status Board is available only for the iPad and requires iOS 5.0 or later. The app is available in English only.
Panic is already working on a version 1.1 beta with some enhancements. I was given permission write about that. In addition to the usual bug fixes, 1) Basic iOS video mirroring will be available in addition to the already existing deluxe, HD out (as in-app purchase) and 2) there's better performance in the resizing of the calendar panel plus overall improved stability and performance. However, as I said above, I've yet to crash the app.
From the energy and enthusiasm I'm already seeing for this app, I expect Panic has a winner on its hands. Infrastructure and extensibility for a platform guarantees a product that's talked about and actually pressed into frequent service. I expect to see software tools crop up to make the creation of custom data sources easy.
There are many awesomely beautiful apps that can take over the display of your iPad as it sits on a stand on your desk, but few have the global customization to make them a permanent fixture. I think what Status Board has going for it is that the user can collect, in one place, everything that's really important to him or her, customize it, and create special data sources amidst a growing community of users who love to build cool tools.
In terms of cost, in my reviews of iOS apps, I think that many are underpriced, but $10 is the right utility to price ratio for an app like this. Finally, it's a favorite now amongst many of the TMO editors. It'll be hard for another app to bump Status Board from my iPad as it sits upright on my desk, next to my iMac.
A permanent fixture now.