My Dashboard for iOS—the latest universal app from Red Knight Interactive—takes a lot of its cues from the widget heavy Android phones we all love to hate by bringing completely customisable in-app home screens to the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. It allows us to see our Facebook and Twitter accounts side by side on one screen with our RSS feeds on the next.
What is it?
With My Dashboard on the iPhone and iPod touch, we are given a maximum of nine screens to customize. Due to the limited space of the iPhone screen (comparatively speaking), we are limited to two panels (“widgets”) per page, which can be quite frustrating for the heaviest of media junkies, but understandable given the size limitations. On the iPad, we are limited to six pages. However, due to the larger screen size and the ability to split the panels into as little as an 8th of the screen in any funky combination you can think of, the app just feels more functional and even exciting.
How does it work?
The panels that run natively within My Dashboard are quite limited at this time, but Red Knight Interactive has plans to expand the list; they’ve even included a “recommend a panel” button to allow us to make suggestions.
At the time of this writing the included panels are:
- RSS feed
The custom panel is a terrific addition as it has a whole variety of options preloaded and ready to use. The major google services, social networks, Wikipedia and Reddit all make appearances as preloaded options, or, as the title of the panel suggests, you can edit the settings of the custom panel to display any URL you wish, which is a nice touch.
The only problem with this, though, is that as the panel is not optimized for the website you choose, what you get is essentially exactly what you would get if you visited the URL in safari. This isn’t a major problem but if you have it placed as a half or quarter screen panel it can become quite cumbersome to navigate. As of this writing there is no way to navigate back within a custom panel. The workaround I have used involves using the settings (top left corner of the panel) to not save my position, instead refreshing the custom panel each time I need to return. I have been told by Red Knight Interactive that they will be adding back and forward buttons in the next update.
Custom panels aren’t the only part of the app plagued by minor problems however, even some of the optimized panels experience some minor frustrating inconsistencies. The Facebook panel allows you to like statuses and view comments, but will not allow you to comment. Likewise, the Instagram panel will not allow you to comment on your friends pictures or even see the caption/comments. Swiping down to refresh any of the apps works as intended but leaves you in the place you were, forcing you to scroll up to see the refreshed content. Particularly frustrating for me is the YouTube panel, which after watching a video always returns you to the top of your feed regardless of your prior position.
The iPad and iPhone/iPod versions of the app sport entirely different edit modes for your home pages, the iPhone version being a mostly gesture based edit mode which feels more natural, and the iPad version being accessed via buttons in the app. All trivial annoyances on their own, but when viewed as a whole they become the one downside to using My Dashboard as a primary app for these functions.
Is it contagious?
The concept is a fantastic one, not too dissimilar to flipboard but withenough unique flourishes (the inclusion of a music player, weather, calendar and alarm clock panel chief amongst them) to warrant a download if you are the kind of person who needs all of your information collected in one space. The experience does vary depending on which device you are using, but overall it is a great premise that just needs a little spit shine to meet its potential.
Apart from the minor annoyances mentioned above, as an iPhone app it works well, as an iPad app it really shines.