Inside OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion: Dashboard gets iOS-style widget organization

Posted:
in Mac OS X edited January 2014


Dashboard gets a Launchpad-style widget organization feature in this summer's release of OS X Mountain Lion, offering a standardized user interface that will be more familiar to iOS users.



Dashboard, first introduced in OS X 10.4 Tiger, presented widgets in a drop down layer that appeared to float above the desktop. Additional widgets could be selected from a Dock-like perforated steel plate interface that appeared from the bottom of the screen.



While a wild divergence from standard window behaviors, Tiger's Dashboard layer kept widgets (essentially self contained, simple web applets built using JavaScript, CSS and HTML) isolated in their own environment so they wouldn't consume resources when idle, yet could still be quickly accessed and dismissed similar to Desk Accessories on the original Macintosh in the 1980s.











In OS X 10.5 Leopard, Apple introduced Spaces, a virtual desktop feature for managing multiple screens each containing its own environment of active apps and their windows.



In last year's OS X 10.7 Lion, Apple made Dashboard into a Space by default. Instead of depicting Dashboard as a special mode that whisks in above the desktop as a visual overlay, the widget layer is simply a panel that slides in from the left (evoking the left-most strip of audio playback and screen orientation lock controls accessible from the iOS multitasking bar).



Combined with Mission Control and Full Screen Apps, this intended to make Dashboard easier to conceptually work with, and easy to invoke with a four fingered swipe to the right. However, Dashboard retained its oddball widget picker, something that initially seemed to be visually related to the iOS Home page and Mac Dock, but which behaved unlike either.



In OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, Dashboard get iOS-like widget management parallel to OS X 10.7 Lion's Launchpad manager for Mac apps. Rather than a single "plus" icon for bringing up a widget picker strip, Mountain Lion presents the Dashboard Space with a plus and minus icon.









Clicking on the Plus icon brings up the Launchpad-like Dashboard widget screen. Just like Launchpad (or the iOS Home screen), you can now drag icons on top of each other to create organizing Folders. Rather than dealing with a "widget manager," you can directly search for widgets from a field at the top of the widget page.









Dragging World Clock onto the Calendar icon automatically creates a "Productivity" Folder, which works and looks just like Launchpad and iOS.









There's still the option, in the Mission Control panel of System Preferences, to not "show Dashboard as a space." When you select this option, Dashboard appears as a translucent overlay as it did in Tiger.















Dashboard can be invoked by a keyboard shortcut or by launching it from its Dock icon or via Spotlight. The only thing really missing from Dashboard is a featured connection to the App Store; to get more widgets, Apple simply links to its Dashboard website.



It wouldn't be a stretch to see Apple add Dashboard widgets support to a coming version of iOS, adding both a store to sell widgets to both iOS and Mac users and iCloud support to sync your widgets installations between all your devices.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    I have no use for Launchpad as a way to find apps — don't suspect many longtime or "power" users do — but this addition to Widgets is nice. Much better than the previous setup and exactly what this UI within a UI needed. Now if only they would invest in some updated Widget APIs and refine the rest of Dashboard while they're at it.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,887member
    Ah, nice. I'll repost this here because it's relevant.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Every update.



    Every update since 10.4.5, I have complained to Apple about Dashboard.



    Every single time a point release comes out, I install it and test the Dashboard's weather widget.



    Every single time, from 10.4.5 to 10.8 Developer Preview 1, it has remained broken.



    I drag my widgets where I want them to be. Exactly where I want them to be. And then the next time Dashboard reloads, they move. They always move. They always move down. It's always down. NONE of the other widgets that come preloaded or which I have ever installed have done this. They stay right where I leave them. Weather always moves. Always moves.



    They don't care about Dashboard at all.



  • SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 24,152member
    Looks like the artificial dividing line between widgets and what we all simply call "apps" now, is simply disappearing.
  • feynmanfeynman Posts: 1,087member
    Am I the only one in thinking that it would be nice if these widgets could be used on top of the existing UI? If I need quick access to say a calculator then I should be able to press the hot key to bring that up while still being able to use all the documents on hand. Maybe that's why I don't use them. It takes an extra minute to launch the widget then to get back to what I am doing, then to maybe use the widget again. In that time I could just launch the Calculator app and it will stay open till I am done with it.
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,887member
    I do like how the Stocks widget is redesigned to be like how the Stocks app in iPhone OS has been since 2007, but it should definitely support swiping the bottom section instead of clicking on those tiny arrows.
  • bdkennedy1bdkennedy1 Posts: 1,459member
    The whole thing is a disorganized mess. Dashboard, Launchpad, Mission Control, Spaces. Come on!
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,887member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post


    The whole thing is a disorganized mess. Dashboard, Launchpad, Mission Control, Spaces. Come on!



    Spaces doesn't exist anymore. Spaces is Mission Control.
  • correctionscorrections Posts: 1,091member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Spaces doesn't exist anymore. Spaces is Mission Control.



    Spaces is still there, it's just that the UI has changed. Mission Control makes Space a frontier that is reachable for non-technical users, for whom the whole idea of virtual desktops is confusing.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Corrections View Post


    Spaces is still there, it's just that the UI has changed. Mission Control makes Space a frontier that is reachable for non-technical users, for whom the whole idea of virtual desktops is confusing.



    The UI has radically changed. So much so that it no longer resembled the multiple spaces that were in Gnome* a decade earlier. Mission Control also incorporates the Show All Windows Exposé option within each desktop. Based on those two things I think it's fair to say that Spaces (proper noun) is gone in favour of Mission Control's option for multiple desktop. Unlike LaunchPad I much prefer MC over Spaces.





    * Was Gnome the first to offer it or did Amiga or someone have it first?
  • slurpyslurpy Posts: 4,444member
    Is anyone thinking what I'm thinking? ie. the dashboard becoming a space for native iOS apps?
  • mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,650member, moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Every update.



    Every update since 10.4.5, I have complained to Apple about Dashboard.



    Every single time a point release comes out, I install it and test the Dashboard's weather widget.



    Every single time, from 10.4.5 to 10.8 Developer Preview 1, it has remained broken.



    You say "complain", implying that you have not filed an official bug report.



    Apple's official bug reporter login page



    Edit: have you done the usual trouble-shooting step of creating a new user and logging in as that new user? Might be something hosed in your user library.
  • hmo8020hmo8020 Posts: 10member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post


    Is anyone thinking what I'm thinking? ie. the dashboard becoming a space for native iOS apps?



    yup exactly what i was thinking about last week. native iOS Apps in the dashboard to be able to sell iOS Apps to only OS X users and have a space for iPhone iOS Apps in combination with a virtual "full-screen" iPad iOS space (coupled/integrated to your iPhone/iPad).



    Bringing iOS (ARM) Apps onto the desktop, users will get used to them on the desktop and certainly iWork iOS Apps will get richer.



    In parallel ARM & GPUs get more powerful over the next years and imagine an iPad-Dock (ala the new Ubuntu/Android/Dock concept) with providing additional memory, storage, display, keyboard and trackpad. Such a powerful iPad (Pro?) could replace (kill) OS X and at the same time Intel. No transition needed at all, as iOS is already on the desktop and users got used to it (camouflaged Rosetta).



    For power-users & business users a ARM server concept (ala HP Moonshoot) could deliver the power based on XGrid and the user is just interacting via his iPad (Pro?) + display or just a simple ARM-display (virtualization serving 1 or more users + remote desktop).



    </vision-end>
  • clydefrogclydefrog Posts: 3member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post


    Is anyone thinking what I'm thinking? ie. the dashboard becoming a space for native iOS apps?



    I can confirm that you're the only one.
  • solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post


    Is anyone thinking what I'm thinking? ie. the dashboard becoming a space for native iOS apps?



    That's an interesting idea that Dashboard seems well suited for but I can't see it happening. Hell, we don't even have a native iBooks app for Mac and even iBooks Author needs an iPad just to test an iBook even though Xcode can emulate iOS fine.
  • nkalunkalu Posts: 315member
    Cool.
  • dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,344member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post


    The whole thing is a disorganized mess. Dashboard, Launchpad, Mission Control, Spaces. Come on!



    Looks like an Android tablet
  • quevarquevar Posts: 101member
    I've been horribly disappointed in Mission Control and have all but stopped using it. I used to use Expose to show me all the windows so I could easily see the progress in multiple windows or compare two documents side by side. With the Mission Control in Lion, F9 now becomes worthless for doing that as it layers all the windows on top of each other. This also has the unfortunate side effect of making it harder to select the windows in the back. I tried hard to use it in the beginning, but I just ended up taking longer and clicking more.



    And, the concept of Mission Control and full screen apps completely breaks down where two or more monitors are connected - it ends up wasting an entire screen. Works reasonably well on laptops, but most of the time I have my laptop plugged into an additional screen.
  • gtrgtr Posts: 3,165member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    You say "complain", implying that you have not filed an official bug report.



    Apple's official bug reporter login page



    Edit: have you done the usual trouble-shooting step of creating a new user and logging in as that new user? Might be something hosed in your user library.



    Alright!



    Some moderator-on-moderator action!



    Sit back and watch the show, boys!



    (Did you want to add the difference between 'Lose' and 'Loose' to your signature? I see an awful lot of confusion with that one as well)
  • tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 39,887member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post


    You say "complain", implying that you have not filed an official bug report.



    Wait, why does that imply that I haven't submitted one? I wrote that with the belief that people would read 'complain to Apple' as 'complain via a submitted bug report'. Sorry if that was unclear.



    Quote:

    Edit: have you done the usual trouble-shooting step of creating a new user and logging in as that new user? Might be something hosed in your user library.



    I'm unsure, but would manually restoring my account every time I do a clean installation count as doing this? Because that's what I do and my last clean install was to 10.7.3 about… two(?)… weeks ago, and I had that problem again right off the bat.



    By 'manually restore' I just mean that I go through setting by setting and change things to the way I want them based on looking off of whichever of my computers isn't being clean restored at the time. I wouldn't be able to remember what my settings were otherwise and restoring my account from a Time Machine backup would only bring forward any problems that account would have encountered as a problem with the account (settings, preferences, and plists, etc.) itself.
  • mr. hmr. h Posts: 4,650member, moderator
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    Wait, why does that imply that I haven't submitted one?



    Usually when people say they've "complained to Apple", they mean they've submitted a feedback form such as this one.



    So, what have Apple done with this bug report? You know you can email them to get a status update.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post


    I'm unsure, but would manually restoring my account every time I do a clean installation count as doing this?



    I would have thought so. But creating a new user, logging in as that user with Fast User Switching, testing for the bug, logging out and then back in as yourself and finally deleting the new user would take 5 minutes max.
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