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Apple filing depicts interactive Dashboard cube interface

post #1 of 32
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A revision to Apple's Dashboard software may offer users the option to choose between multiple widget user interfaces, including a three-dimensional cube environment, a new company filing has revealed.

Filed February 1, 2006 under the heading "Multiple Dashboards," the 45-page patent application lists the Mac maker's vice president of platform experience Scott Forstall amongst the engineers credited with the proposed interface concepts.

While the existing versions of Apple's Mac OS X operating system offers a single repository and graphical interface view for managing Dashboard widgets, Forstall's proposal would expand the concept to allow users to create and configure multiple Dashboards views to manage the increasing number of widgets available for download across the Internet.

For example, one Dashboard view could contain widgets related to work, while another would house those widgets related only to personal matters. Different trigger events -- such as different key combinations and menu selections -- would be used to trigger various Dashboards workspaces into view.

According to the filing, different Dashboards could contain one or more of the same widgets and "state" information for a widget could be maintained separately for each Dashboard in which the widget appears, or it can be commonly maintained across all Dashboards in which the widget appears.

"Different Dashboards can be available or 'owned' for different users of a computer or other electronic device, such that each user can only access their own Dashboard(s)," Apple said in the filing. "A user can specify a Dashboard as being available to other users, if desired. A user can also specify, for any or all of the Dashboards he or she creates, whether other users are permitted to make changes to the Dashboard(s)."



In one implementation of the proposed concept, multiple Dashboards could could be managed through a familiar tab interface, where each Dashboard includes a tab and a tab panel. "When the tab is activated (e.g., mouse click), the tab panel corresponding to the tab is moved to the front and activated," the company explained. "The tab panel can include one or more enabled widgets which can be interacted with by a user, application, etc."

Each tab would be labeled with an appropriate title and other information indicative of the theme or content of the Dashboard, and could minimized and stored in a configuration bar when not in use.



In another potential implementation, Apple illustrates a geometric scheme for organizing multiple Dashboards through a cube interface.

For example, Apple said, a cube can display a Dashboard or Dashboard icon or other selectable object associated with a Dashboard on the front-facing side of the cube. The user could then manipulate a control mechanism (e.g., a scroll bar, key, mouse over, etc.) for controlling the animation of the cube.



"For example, with each quarter rotation the front-facing side of the cube displays a different Dashboard icon, image or other Dashboard indicia that can be static or have at least some portions animated," the filing states. "Thus, a user can quickly review available Dashboards by 'spinning' the cube about one of its axes. The user can also click a flip button to rotate or spin the cube to see another Dashboard."

By using animated two- and three-dimensional graphical objects to display Dashboards, more than one Dashboard can be visible to the user at a given time, Apple explained.

Other Dashboard interface concepts proposed in the filing include a Dashboard Configuration Bar and Dashboard Rolodex.

The patent filing, which was first noted on Macintosh news site MacNN, also lists amongst its inventors Imran Chaudhri, John Louch and Eric Peyton.
post #2 of 32
My dashboard is getting ultra-cluttered thus defeating its purpose. I commonly use the calculator, and without seeing the desktop it kinda sucks.
post #3 of 32
Aha... it's like a Rubik's cube, or 'Spaces' for the Dashboard. I like.

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post #4 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by suhail View Post

My dashboard is getting ultra-cluttered thus defeating its purpose. I commonly use the calculator, and without seeing the desktop it kinda sucks.


Sounds like a good idea with the cube. Being that a lot of people have dozens of widgets, having them broken up into 6 different planes would be a good way of organizing them. I hope this is a feature of the new OS.
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post #5 of 32
The Beryl Project has a similar implementation for desktop switching.


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post #6 of 32
w00t!

It's a bit fancier but it's what I've been hoping for: Dashboard Pages.

Hopefully it will make an appearence in Leopard, even after the release date, but if not, then I expect to see it in 10.6

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post #7 of 32
to many un needed features... apple is making bloated windows software now...
cmon just work all the bugs out of wht we have got first.
post #8 of 32
I think the 3D cube interface will get old in a few minutes.
Personally, I think Spaces makes dashboard redundant.
Widgets should be set free from the confines of the dashboard.
You should just create a separate Space for groupings of apps & widgets

For example
Space 1 : Mail and iChat and widgets
Space 2 : Web browser
Space 3: work apps and widgets
Space 4: widgets
post #9 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Catman4d2 View Post

to many un needed features... apple is making bloated windows software now...
cmon just work all the bugs out of wht we have got first.

Increasing options is a natural evolution of software. I hardly use Dashboard and see very little personal use for multiple Dashboards but I welcome the improvement as I can see that people that rely heavily on Dashboard with it's thousands of widgets may have very cluttered Dashboard desktop.

The developers working on the critical Leopard bugs are not the same ones working on adding functionality to Leopard and it's not like this is some major advancement. Whether you choose Dashboard tabs or the cube effect, this technology is already built in Leopard, and even Tiger.
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post #10 of 32
The cubes! The cubes! What is it with the CUBES!!!!

You a-holes better get outta my way! I'm running to the Patent Office with my idea for a spinning icosahedron to give you a mind-numbing TWENTY faces to look at!!!

When I rake in the Benjamins for that piece of wizardry, y'all can come over to my mansion and hang out. NBD.
post #11 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

I think the 3D cube interface will get old in a few minutes.
Personally, I think Spaces makes dashboard redundant.
Widgets should be set free from the confines of the dashboard.
You should just create a separate Space for groupings of apps & widgets

While I don't agree with your sentiment that Spaces makes Dashboard redundant, as they are very much different, I do like the idea of being able to designate Spaces for Dashboard widgets. I may actually use Dashboard more frequently then.
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post #12 of 32
With more apps moving into the Dashboard (iChat, iTunes, Safari, etc. all have Dashboard-based interfaces to do a majority of functions), it seems like we might be spending more and more time in Dashboard itself.

This makes sense, since it appears the iPhone application environment seems to be Dashboard-esque.

All the cube interface needs is a touch screen to interact with it (to make it really useful) and we're in Minority Report land.
post #13 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

While I don't agree with your sentiment that Spaces makes Dashboard redundant, as they are very much different, I do like the idea of being able to designate Spaces for Dashboard widgets. I may actually use Dashboard more frequently then.

I think there is enough similarity that it creates unnecessary complexity to have both.
Part of the current problem with widgets are that there are so many of them.
You only have a single dashboard to view them on so if you want to be able to have quick access to them you need to leave it out on the dashboard all the time.

On the other hand, I have 100+ applications on my computer and i can get to any of them very quickly via spotlight. The artificial distinction between apps and widgets should be eliminated. Again it is a case of there being enough similarity that it creates unnecessary complexity to have both. There is a Utilities folder in the Applications folder. There should also be a Widgets folder where small focused apps reside. When you do a spotlight search the widgets should sort with apps and utilities.
post #14 of 32
So another part of the Apple UI common to all applications disappears. Gone in that picture is the Finder's 'Window' menu which is supposed to be on every app. Instead, a widgets and a Dashboards menu.

I hope they're going to make the widgets more efficient. At the moment, my weather widget alone is taking up more memory than an entire web server and database and consuming more CPU at idle.
post #15 of 32
Maybe they should make it look like a Buddhist prayer wheel instead of a cube... spin to the left, please...

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post #16 of 32
All your "dashboards" are belong to us! Heh.
post #17 of 32
I thing the tab version, while not as much eye candy as the cube, could be done simply and aesthetically and would be the most practical to use. The tabbed interface has proven its worth time and time again in many applications.
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post #18 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by macFanDave View Post

The cubes! The cubes! What is it with the CUBES!!!!

Everywhere except the hardware, which is where the concept ought to be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozarella

I think there is enough similarity that it creates unnecessary complexity to have both.

The artificial distinction between apps and widgets should be eliminated.

I agree. I think people are tricked into thinking these widgets are totally different from applications, though in a way they are given that they are usually html, css, javascript etc but they can be Obj-C too. They then drop loads into the Dashboard little realising these apps are sucking up resources just like running a bunch of normal apps would. In fact probably more given how much more resources browsers seem to use.

If you have too many widgets then the simple answer is use less widgets or get a bigger screen. You probably wouldn't run that many apps so why run that many widgets? Most of them are rubbish anyway and accidentally click off the widget and you lose the entire dashboard. For a while I used the calculator but it's not as advanced as the OS X calculator app and that's easy enough to access from the dock.

Currently I have one widget running - the calendar - and I use it about once every month or two. I also have a TV guide widget that loads slowly because parts of it are still PPC.

As for Spaces, I have programs that have the ability to use multiple workspaces and I still just use one. Apple's design has always been about minimalism and making less do more. Spaces and multiple Dashboard contexts are totally against this idea of minimalism.

And is it just me but how the hell do you need 45 pages to describe that? Do they just write really big or what?

What annoys me about these devlopments is that it's clear Apple are focusing on the gimmicks. Dashboard is not really a useful tool. What are useful are the dock and Finder and yet we hear nothing about any innovation there. What about multiple dock contexts so that people don't have docks that are the entire width of their screen with 5x5 icons or how about docks that can be ordered alphabetically? How about a tabbed Finder? Themes? A more functional Spotlight menu?
post #19 of 32
meh..
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post #20 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

I think the 3D cube interface will get old in a few minutes.
Personally, I think Spaces makes dashboard redundant.
Widgets should be set free from the confines of the dashboard.
You should just create a separate Space for groupings of apps & widgets

Ow so true! I think Dashboard is a bad concept in *form*; more and more inconsistent behaviour. Why create new tiny apps that behave and interact differently compared to regular MacOSX apps, and overlay them in "front" of the desktop?
post #21 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

I think the 3D cube interface will get old in a few minutes.
Personally, I think Spaces makes dashboard redundant.
Widgets should be set free from the confines of the dashboard.
You should just create a separate Space for groupings of apps & widgets

For example
Space 1 : Mail and iChat and widgets
Space 2 : Web browser
Space 3: work apps and widgets
Space 4: widgets

ahahahaha..... *reads it again* ahahahahahaha

When stuck in the world of PCs I tried 2 different applications that handled widgets. Yahoo Widget Engine and Google Desktop... neither was all that good at it, mainly because they ate at system resources and the Widgets themselves took up a huge amount of Desktop space, you couldn't even see my Desktop. I understand the logic of your approach, but Widgets eat enough system resources, taking the Dashboard layer out of it would be stupid because it provides the runtime (WebKit) for them to run in an Expose layer that's just an F12 away. This approach would also involve having them start at startup, or having me open them individually.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Catman4d2 View Post

to many un needed features... apple is making bloated windows software now...
cmon just work all the bugs out of wht we have got first.

Since when is Apple making bloated windows software? Evolving their applications is not the same as overloading them with bloated features, and Pages/Tabs are actually a good idea.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

I think there is enough similarity that it creates unnecessary complexity to have both.
Part of the current problem with widgets are that there are so many of them.
You only have a single dashboard to view them on so if you want to be able to have quick access to them you need to leave it out on the dashboard all the time.

On the other hand, I have 100+ applications on my computer and i can get to any of them very quickly via spotlight. The artificial distinction between apps and widgets should be eliminated. Again it is a case of there being enough similarity that it creates unnecessary complexity to have both. There is a Utilities folder in the Applications folder. There should also be a Widgets folder where small focused apps reside. When you do a spotlight search the widgets should sort with apps and utilities.

How is it unneeded complexity? It's simple. Hit F12 and boom, Widgets, hit F12 again, Boom, they're gone. Pages? I'd recommend a Command key +number to navigate them faster.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RayCon View Post

I thing the tab version, while not as much eye candy as the cube, could be done simply and aesthetically and would be the most practical to use. The tabbed interface has proven its worth time and time again in many applications.

Agreed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

Everywhere except the hardware, which is where the concept ought to be.

/Makes me think of the G4 Cube and the NeXTcube -Sebastian/


I agree. I think people are tricked into thinking these widgets are totally different from applications, though in a way they are given that they are usually html, css, javascript etc but they can be Obj-C too. They then drop loads into the Dashboard little realising these apps are sucking up resources just like running a bunch of normal apps would. In fact probably more given how much more resources browsers seem to use.

If you have too many widgets then the simple answer is use less widgets or get a bigger screen. You probably wouldn't run that many apps so why run that many widgets? Most of them are rubbish anyway and accidentally click off the widget and you lose the entire dashboard. For a while I used the calculator but it's not as advanced as the OS X calculator app and that's easy enough to access from the dock.

Currently I have one widget running - the calendar - and I use it about once every month or two. I also have a TV guide widget that loads slowly because parts of it are still PPC.

As for Spaces, I have programs that have the ability to use multiple workspaces and I still just use one. Apple's design has always been about minimalism and making less do more. Spaces and multiple Dashboard contexts are totally against this idea of minimalism.

And is it just me but how the hell do you need 45 pages to describe that? Do they just write really big or what?

What annoys me about these devlopments is that it's clear Apple are focusing on the gimmicks. Dashboard is not really a useful tool. What are useful are the dock and Finder and yet we hear nothing about any innovation there. What about multiple dock contexts so that people don't have docks that are the entire width of their screen with 5x5 icons or how about docks that can be ordered alphabetically? How about a tabbed Finder? Themes? A more functional Spotlight menu?

I disagree. Dashboard is very useful, but more importantly, it's also fun. Who doesn't enjoy a new quote each time you open Dashboard? Oh yeah I forgot, you don't. Not everything Apple makes needs to be a "useful tool" to make it into the OS. But how is it useful? You answered that yourself, you use it ocassionally with a Calendar Widget and a TV Guide. Of course there is also the Stocks Widget, Sticky Notes (Much better than the application as far as I'm concerned) and the weather are the 3 "useful" ones I have. Well there is a 4th, a countdown until Bush leaves Office

But you're right, Widgets aren't all that different from applications. That's probably why they are described as single purpose mini applications, and having instant access to them via a single Key is much better than organizing it in the Finder.

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post #22 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

As for Spaces, I have programs that have the ability to use multiple workspaces and I still just use one. Apple's design has always been about minimalism and making less do more. Spaces and multiple Dashboard contexts are totally against this idea of minimalism.

I've tried every virtual desktop hack out there for OS X.
They all suck. Some are very powerful and configureable but all are too complicated.
They also aren't integrated tightly with the OS.

Spaces will change that.
Spaces is tight, simple and elegant.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin View Post

What annoys me about these devlopments is that it's clear Apple are focusing on the gimmicks. Dashboard is not really a useful tool. What are useful are the dock and Finder and yet we hear nothing about any innovation there. What about multiple dock contexts so that people don't have docks that are the entire width of their screen with 5x5 icons or how about docks that can be ordered alphabetically? How about a tabbed Finder? Themes? A more functional Spotlight menu?

There are still 5 secret features left to be revealed.
I guarantee your concerns will be addressed.
I agree that Dashboard is useless the way it is implemented.
I like Widgets but can't use them because they are trapped in the stupid Dashboard.
Spaces isn't a gimmick and will be a true productivity booster.
post #23 of 32
Cubes suck for navigating a large space, just like flip3d does. Expose is nice because you can see all the windows at once, where as a cube you might only see 1 1/2 sides at a time. Even with transparency it's still confusing because the image is the "backside"
post #24 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slewis View Post

....I understand the logic of your approach, but Widgets eat enough system resources, taking the Dashboard layer out of it would be stupid because it provides the runtime (WebKit) for them to run in an Expose layer that's just an F12 away. This approach would also involve having them start at startup, or having me open them individually.

Instead of having Dashboard and Spaces.
You could eliminate the concept of the Dashboard and instead have F12 go to a particular Space for widgets.

The WebKit engine is part of the OS.
Widgets can run outside the Dashboard but not by default.

You can currently set applications to launch automatically when the OS starts.
Why couldn't they also have Widgets launch automatically as well


Quote:
Originally Posted by Slewis View Post

How is it unneeded complexity? It's simple. Hit F12 and boom, Widgets, hit F12 again, Boom, they're gone. Pages? I'd recommend a Command key +number to navigate them faster.

What if the widget you need isn't open?
1) hit F12
2) click the (+)
3) click, click,click,click to slowly scroll through dozens of widgets.
4) click on the desired widget.
5) wait for the eye candy animation
6) use the widget
7) hit F12

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slewis View Post

I disagree. Dashboard is very useful, but more importantly, it's also fun. Who doesn't enjoy a new quote each time you open Dashboard? Oh yeah I forgot, you don't. Not everything Apple makes needs to be a "useful tool" to make it into the OS. But how is it useful? You answered that yourself, you use it ocassionally with a Calendar Widget and a TV Guide. Of course there is also the Stocks Widget, Sticky Notes (Much better than the application as far as I'm concerned) and the weather are the 3 "useful" ones I have. Well there is a 4th, a countdown until Bush leaves Office

Photo booth isn't useful but it is fun and SIMPLE.
Dashboard is not simple it is too complicated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slewis View Post

But you're right, Widgets aren't all that different from applications. That's probably why they are described as single purpose mini applications, and having instant access to them via a single Key is much better than organizing it in the Finder.

Sebastian

I agree and Spaces would allow you to do that so why do we need Dashboard?
post #25 of 32
One thing I still haven't seen a good implementation of... a clean Apple-like Weather widget that can handle multiple cities in an uncluttered way. I have about 7 Apple Weather widgets open since I can't get multiple cities on one widget, and it sure would be nice to simultaneously get a weather radar view... it's just slow and annoying now. Hopefully Apple can improve on this...

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post #26 of 32
now I'm confused..
I always thought that you file for a patent if you have a new and original idea that nobody may steal..
how is this new? as showed by solipsism, it is hardly new, beryl and compiz have been doing that for ages on linux already. by the looks of it, vista has flip3d and on OSX there's spaces and I have been using "Virtue Desktops" already like that for a very long time..
patent?
post #27 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by pOps View Post

now I'm confused..
I always thought that you file for a patent if you have a new and original idea that nobody may steal..

This should help.

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post #28 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post

Instead of having Dashboard and Spaces.
You could eliminate the concept of the Dashboard and instead have F12 go to a particular Space for widgets.

wow, you guys must be using dashboard differently than i do. personally i love the way it works now. have a rpn calculator widget is awesome for me because i can input numbers that i see in various apps. also, the transmit widget is great because in one step i can take files, open an ftp connection, transfer files and close the app. all of it happens automagically other than me dragging the files to the transmit widget. so i can drag the files and go about my business as it does the rest.

dashboard as it exists is extremely useful to me. i thinka tabbed interface would make it even better.
post #29 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Increasing options is a natural evolution of software. I hardly use Dashboard and see very little personal use for multiple Dashboards but I welcome the improvement as I can see that people that rely heavily on Dashboard with it's thousands of widgets may have very cluttered Dashboard desktop.

The developers working on the critical Leopard bugs are not the same ones working on adding functionality to Leopard and it's not like this is some major advancement. Whether you choose Dashboard tabs or the cube effect, this technology is already built in Leopard, and even Tiger.

well now that i think about it... it would be cool to have one dash with all my sharktank and fishcams on it kinda zen and peaceful,then one for lava lamps and signs,one with animated strippers,and one with calenders and weather fed ex trackers. you know buisness and productivity stuff on it...

one for each taste,all on the same machine..... but somtimes i think apple is in a rush to compete with redmond when they "msoft" arent even really in the game anymore at all.

imho
post #30 of 32
This Dashboard must relate and make perfect sense for APPLE forthcoming small form factor devices, rather than desktops !
post #31 of 32
I agree. Think widgets on Apple TV and iPhone.

boom!
post #32 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

One thing I still haven't seen a good implementation of... a clean Apple-like Weather widget that can handle multiple cities in an uncluttered way. I have about 7 Apple Weather widgets open since I can't get multiple cities on one widget, and it sure would be nice to simultaneously get a weather radar view... it's just slow and annoying now. Hopefully Apple can improve on this...

This isn't a widget, but it is a Dock and/or Menu Bar option for multi-location, detailed weather conditions. There is no radar, that I can see.
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