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Panic debuts Status Board app, a widget hub for iPad

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status board app
status board app

The app developer Panic has released only a small number of apps in the more than a decade that it's been around, but those apps have often been regarded as well-made and polished. Panic is today introducing Status Board, an app that turns an iPad into a news ticker, a calendar, and a widget hub all at once. The app imports data from the device, automatically filling up the screen with your Twitter feed, unread emails, and the local weather in discrete blocks not unlike what you'd find on Apple's Dashboard. The basic widgets aren't much to marvel at, but what makes Status Board powerful is its ability to take in data from your personal external sources. The company includes two widgets that can do more or less anything you want — if you're savvy enough to code it, that is.

The widgets are basic, but you can make them powerful

One of these two widgets imports spreadsheet data and visualizes it as line or bar charts. The other effectively pulls in websites using a built-in browser. If the website is set to automatically update its information, it'll fit right in among Status Board's other scrolling and twitching widgets. This makes the app a powerful tool for anyone looking for a second screen filled with at-a-glance data, but right now, getting it to work tends to require embedding code into an app or website that you built yourself. It's possible that these hooks could be simplified for use with personal Tumblr blogs, but at the moment, the target audience is professionals looking to augment an office with helpful information.

The app is best displayed when streamed onto an external monitor over AirPlay or HDMI — but Panic is charging a hefty $49.99 in-app purchase for that ability. (Update: the in-app purchase has been reduced to $9.99.) The app itself is $9.99, and otherwise includes access to all of its features. What's built-in to Status Board isn't always beautiful, however. The charts and graphs may make you feel productive, but most of the widgets are dull and text-heavy, and they appear as separate entities rather than forming into the singular sleek display that Panic seems to promise.

You can move and resize each widget, but frustratingly, many have seemingly arbitrary size restraints, and the app doesn't always compensate properly when switching orientation, leaving you with a muddle of overlapping widgets. Of course, you're meant to set it and forget it, without regularly fidgeting with the app's displayed information. It makes Status Board simultaneously bland and incredibly expansive, but only if you know what you're doing. That's not something that we're surprised to see, however. Panic's other apps, including the web editor Coda and the FTP client Transmit, are great pieces of software, but aren't necessarily meant for the average consumer.