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

post #1 of 40
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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 ]
post #2 of 40
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.

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post #3 of 40
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.

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post #4 of 40
Looks like the artificial dividing line between widgets and what we all simply call "apps" now, is simply disappearing.

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post #5 of 40
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.
post #6 of 40
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.

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post #7 of 40
The whole thing is a disorganized mess. Dashboard, Launchpad, Mission Control, Spaces. Come on!
post #8 of 40
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.

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post #9 of 40
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.
post #10 of 40
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?

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post #11 of 40
Is anyone thinking what I'm thinking? ie. the dashboard becoming a space for native iOS apps?
post #12 of 40
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.
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post #13 of 40
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>
post #14 of 40
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.
post #15 of 40
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.

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post #16 of 40
Cool.
post #17 of 40
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
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post #18 of 40
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.
post #19 of 40
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)
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post #20 of 40
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.

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post #21 of 40
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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post #22 of 40
I use my dashboard a lot to get a quick snapshot. I love it like I love the Notifications center on my iOS. I use it the same. But with Lion dashboard became relegated to that awful background of grey. I started to feel depressed about using Dashboard. That grey veil would shut out everything in the background and I felt shut away from my tasks.

Your article with the one hint about how to return the background back to Tiger days was the highlight of my evening as I replaced that translucent visual Dashboard back!

Thanks AI!
post #23 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

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

Eh, not really. All those things tie in together pretty elegantly, but are separate functions.

Launchpad= iOS style application launcher. Personally, I love it.
Dashboard= widgets
Mission control= central desktop/window organization.

Spaces is gone. Its part of MC. Not sure what part of this is disorganized. Also, gestures work brilliantly.
post #24 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

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.

What the hell with the 'power users' again? What is wrong in pressing damn LaunchPad icon and launching an app, power user or not you still need to open apps to use them.

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post #25 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

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.

that's you, I'm a "power" user and love and use Launchpad all the time. I suspect maybe you use Spotlight mostly eh. Yah, that's fine too but, I prefer Launchpad over opening the HD | then Applications and then looking at tiny icons for what I want to open.
post #26 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Feynman View Post

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.

Did you miss the part in the article where it said in ML you will be able to have widgets on top of the existing UI again!? Look at the last screenshot..
post #27 of 40
It's nice to see that Apple is still giving some of its attention to Mac widgets, but it's a feature on life support until Apple relaunches the feature on the developer side. The current Apple site for distributing widgets doesn't allow for developers to update them anymore. It's been left out in the cold because of iOS mania I suppose, which is unfortunate because people (both users and developers) really liked widgets when the first came on the scene.
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post #28 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Povilas View Post

What the hell with the 'power users' again? What is wrong in pressing damn LaunchPad icon and launching an app, power user or not you still need to open apps to use them.

What part of "[I] don't suspect many longtime or "power" users [use Launchpad]" is saying that's it's wrong? It's simply an observation about longterm usage habits not being easily broken. I've clearly stated Launchpad is useful and has its purpose but that I suspect that not many users who are use to Macs are using it much for launching apps.

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post #29 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by nofear1az View Post

Did you miss the part in the article where it said in ML you will be able to have widgets on top of the existing UI again!? Look at the last screenshot..

I think he means something different, that is to go to the next level where the normal desktop and Dashboard merge. So, Dashboard would not be just an extra isolated layer on top of your Desktop without communication between the two, but a set of small utilities you can invoke and use without interrupting data transfer to and from the documents you have open on your normal Desktop. The idea is to be able to directly exchange data between Dashboard and normal applications like you do between normal applications through the GUI.
post #30 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

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

agreed !
post #31 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

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

Mission Control replaces Spaces, Dashboard provides widgets, and Launchpad is sort of like the many third-party quick-launch tools such as QuickSilver. They all have different purposes.

Personally, I wouldn't qualify the collection of task/widget/workspace management functions in OS X as 'a big mess'. When Launchpad was added I dismissed it as a clunky, unnecessary toy-tool that I would never use instead of QuickSilver, but since I've bought the magic trackpad, I use it all the time, simply because with that I can launch apps faster than by hitting ctrl-space and typing the name. One gesture to open it, at most one gesture to get to the app I want to launch, one click to launch it.

Dashboard itself I could qualify as a big mess, I never used it and I will probably never do. I just don't see the added value of pile of gimped apps that all come up at the same time covering whatever I was doing. I'd rather switch to a dedicated app with a rich interface to see whatever I want to see. Maybe it's just me, I have exactly the same opinion on widgets on phones and tablets, to me they are gimmicks, nothing more.

The one thing I would say is 'a big mess' on OS X is the finder, it has been terrible since day one and it has hardly improved.
post #32 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by nofear1az View Post

Did you miss the part in the article where it said in ML you will be able to have widgets on top of the existing UI again!? Look at the last screenshot..

1.) You misinterpreted what Feynman was trying to say, as explained by PB.

2.) You don't have to wait for ML "to have widgets on top of the existing UI again" - in Lion just open Mission Control preferences and deselect "Show Dashboard as a space".
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post #33 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

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

I completely agree. I do like Launchpad but can't help but think in every other update we get a different place to open app from, while retaining all of them. I do also sometimes think, isn't this just like when you opened an app from the desktop, but with big icons?

Mission control is just far to over the top. I never used Spaces as I never have that many programs open, and it seems weird in the release that's promoting full screen apps there's something else promoting having your windows on multiple virtual desktops.

Changing the default for dashboard to open in a new screen was also an awful idea. I only use it for the calculator, but now when you want to quickly add something up, the things your trying to add up disapear! If there going to be in a seperate space, they might as well just be normal apps.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post

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

No just you, I can't think of anything worse. Dashboard is meant for very simple apps that are small and only accessed for a short space of time and need to be accessed quickly. Some iOS apps may fall into this category, but the idea of giving someone the ability to install a full on game into dashboard is just insane.
post #34 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by timgriff84 View Post

Mission control is just far to over the top. I never used Spaces as I never have that many programs open, and it seems weird in the release that's promoting full screen apps there's something else promoting having your windows on multiple virtual desktops.

Actually, full screen apps integrate very nicely with Mission Control, as they will all get their own desktop space. This allows you to have multiple full-screen apps open and still be able to switch between them without reverting to windowed mode, and you can keep your own desktop spaces organized for non-fullscreen apps. I cannot really think of a better way to have multiple desktops, windowed applications and full-screen applications all at the same time. When I'm programming in XCode for example, I have the XCode GUI full-screen, the organizer on the desktop to the right, a browser and terminal to the left, and a fourth desktop to procrastrinate ;-). A single 3-finger swipe gets me to one of my 'working spaces', while I can still move around applications to the fourth desktop using MC.

Personally, I think Mission Control is the best feature introduced in OS X since as long as I can remember. I've used many desktop managers on Windows and Linux, but eventually I always ended up with 5 empty workspaces, and one workspace with all my windows. Moving around windows, rearranging desktops and figuring out which applications live on what desktop always turned into a click and drag fest, to the point it started to be counter-productive. With Mission Control 1 gesture is sufficient to get an overview of everything, and rearranging and moving around Windows is as easy as it gets.
post #35 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

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

I don't think so. I quite prefer MC over Spaces. The only wrinkle is how Expose doesn't show minimized windows...
post #36 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by nofear1az View Post

that's you, I'm a "power" user and love and use Launchpad all the time. I suspect maybe you use Spotlight mostly eh. Yah, that's fine too but, I prefer Launchpad over opening the HD | then Applications and then looking at tiny icons for what I want to open.

I press cntrl+space on my keyboard, type the first two letters of whatever program I want to open, and press enter. Spotlight is the fastest way to launch anything I want with never having to take my hands off the keyboard
post #37 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by nofear1az View Post

Did you miss the part in the article where it said in ML you will be able to have widgets on top of the existing UI again!? Look at the last screenshot..

I guess I did, thanks!
post #38 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by chadisawesome View Post

I press cntrl+space on my keyboard, type the first two letters of whatever program I want to open, and press enter. Spotlight is the fastest way to launch anything I want with never having to take my hands off the keyboard

I prefer Alfred.
post #39 of 40
As much as I love OS X it does seem like OS X is now about following iOS, without a real overall, integrated sense of its own evolution.
post #40 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. H View Post

1.) You misinterpreted what Feynman was trying to say, as explained by PB.

2.) You don't have to wait for ML "to have widgets on top of the existing UI again" - in Lion just open Mission Control preferences and deselect "Show Dashboard as a space".

Ah, thank you. This is the kind of path I hope OS X will not lose. I know, ironically it was what it used to be?

I know, it's getting late, sentence construction left me, it has.
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