Panic didn’t conceive the original incarnation of Status Board for its customers. Developed in 2010 as a tidy way to keep track of support queries and development projects, it was a essentially a specialized webpage for employees, projecting a continuously updated list of the company’s email queue, projects, revenue, countdowns and calendar appointments on a 46-inch screen, a way to communally visualize all of the data the company was juggling.
When it landed on the iPad in 2013, Status Board took on a new form. With an array of at-a-glance panels and color-coded graphs, Status Board represented a solution to iOS’s lack of personalization and widgets, the hyper-customizable, up-to-the-second dashboard app that brought all of the disparate elements in your mobile life onto a single screen, cutting down on the amount of apps you needed to visit on your iPad. With the second incarnation, Panic looks to build on that foundation. With new panels, a friendlier pricing structure and a fresh new design, the app looks to expand its reach and usability—-and hopefully live up to its enormous potential.
If you’ve used the original Status Board, the interface will be extremely familiar. Each new board starts out as a blank slate, but you’ll quickly be able to fill it by choosing from a series of 12 data-driven modules. Six of them are provided for free, letting you populate your board with Weather, Clock, Calendar, Email, Twitter and News Feed panels by simply dragging them from the dock to the main board. Modules are even easier to resize and position, and it’s clear that Panic has paid tremendous care to refining the user experience; within the individual panels the layout and customization options are straightforward, even when setting up a chart to track your daily Twitter mentions.
While the free version of Status Board offers enough panels to create a rich, vibrant dashboard, a $10 in-app download unlocks a veritably endless array of possibilities. The expansion pack doesn’t just double the number of panels—allowing your board to display rotating photos, snippets of text or a countdown to a specific date—it offers a set of tools for creating your own charts, graphs or anything else you can dream up by fiddling with HTML. Graphs are fairly easy to create by uploading a CSV file to Dropbox, but DIY panels require some serious coding know-how.
Panic makes it easy to share panels, but if you don’t have a designer friend (or are one yourself), you’ll have to do a bit of searching to find them. Panic spotlights a couple of places to pull data inside the app, but it would be nice if Panic supplied a gallery within the app to help personalize boards even further; I was able to locate an AAPL stock tracker using Google without too much trouble but had a much harder time locating a sports score ticker. Status Board 2 still leans more toward business users than casual ones, but with its new freemium model (the original version cost $9.99, and Panic has unlocked the expansion pack for all upgraders), I have to assume a large percentage of new users will download it with the hopes of creating personal boards.
I wish I could use Status board on more devices than just my iPad. The lack of an iPhone app in particular seems to be a missed opportunity; even if it loses some of its glanceability on the iPhone, a tailored interface that lets you swipe between panels would help give Status Board broader appeal.
Status Board 2 is a definite upgrade over the original and looks beautiful on the iPad or projected onto an HDTV screen.
Michael Simon has been covering Apple since the iPod was the iWalk. His obsession with technology goes back to his first PC—the IBM Thinkpad with the lift-up keyboard for swapping out the drive. He's still waiting for that to come back in style tbh.