DashPad is a new (ish) web app that uses a tagline of ‘Dashboard for your iPad‘ – and carries a huge (for a web app) price tag of $9.99. The web site for the app also claims that Apple is rejecting any native (App Store) apps that are ‘Dashboard like’.
In the interest of research and to be able to report to you here, I laid out $9.99 for this web app and have given it a go. I have some thoughts on the app, and also a Dashboard-like app that somehow slipped through those App Store rejections.
A Quick Look at DashPad
Here’s a little more on DashPad, straight from the web page for the app:
One of the major limitations of the iPad is that you can’t run more than one application at a time. This made app developers build Dashboard like apps for the iPad, meant to eliminate this problem. The only problem with this is that Apple hasn’t approved any of these apps for the App Store. That’s where DashPad is different.
Introducing DashPad, the only app that brings widgets in a Dashboard like environment to the iPad. DashPad runs in Mobile Safari which means Apple doesn’t need to approve it.
And here’s what it looks like with a few widgets added to its page:
So, as you can see in the description above, the app runs in Mobile Safari. It currently offers 7 widgets. They are: Clock, Calculator, Calendar, Google, Convert, Yellow Pages, and Sticky Notes.
When you first load the DashPad page it is a nearly blank screen, with no widgets active. You tap a very small button (that needs to be bigger) at the top left of the page to pull up the widgets bar at the bottom of the page. From that bar you tap on any widget to activate it on the page. Tap the widget’s icon in the bar again to remove it from the page.
You can fit all 7 widgets on the page at once if you like, though it is then a very crowded page in both portrait and landscape orientation.
Response from some of the widgets is erratic – at times when you try to drag them around the page you end up moving the page itself rather than the widget. It feels like a web app in terms of being not as responsive as a native application.
Seven widgets does not strike me as a great initial pool – although the app’s web page indicates that more may be coming in future updates:
Q.) Will updates be free?
A.) Minor updates such as bug fixes or new widgets will be free. However, if a huge feature is added, a priced update might occur.
That last part is a bit cheeky considering the $9.99 purchase price.
Desktop – a Native iPad App Alternative
Desktop is an App Store app for the iPad, priced at $4.99, that does the same sort of thing as DashPad, but better in my opinion. For starters it currently offers 13 widgets – nearly double the amount in DashPad. They are:
- Web Browser (featuring Visual Bookmarks)
- English Dictionary (powered by Wiktionary)
- Language Translator (46 languages)
- Currency Converter (60+ currencies)
- Maps (with Geolocation)
- Email Composer
- US Weather (location-enabled)
- Unit Converter (with 100+ units)
- Device Stats (Memory and Disk)
- Voice Recorder
- World Clock
You cannot drag the widgets around in Desktop, as you can in Dashpad – instead you have two panels to work with on the screen and you place one widget in each panel. You can place the panels side by side or above and below, or go full screen with one widget.
While the widgets in Desktop are not drag-able, many of them are more capable than their closest equivalent in DashPad. The Notepad app for instance offers you some font choices and lets you email them as PDF or plain text, or export in either format.
For more on Desktop, you can check out my review of it here: http://ipadinsight.com/ipad-app-reviews/desktop-app-a-little-bit-of-multitasking-on-the-ipad
Is DashPad Worth $9.99?
No big shocker here. I can’t see any way DashPad is worth its price. It doesn’t stack up well against Desktop which costs half as much.
The truth is neither app is really very ‘Dashboard-like’ – as there is no easy way to instantly call them up from anywhere on the iPad, as you can with one key press on a Mac. It would currently take a jailbreak app (and I don’t know of one) to come close to that experience – but I’d choose Desktop every time as my closest alternative for now.
Here’s where you can find each of them:
Have you tried either of these out? Or found any similar apps for the iPad? If so, please share in the comments.