Status Board review: Panic's delightful way to visually keep track of all your stuff

Status Board is a way to keep track of all the stuff you care about, delightfully rendered and presented on your iPad. That it comes from the obscenely talented team at Panic is no surprise. Based on a custom big screen status board they whipped for their office, the production version of Status Board offers a lot of the same charm, and in an easy to customize package.

On launch, you're greeted with a short explanation of how Status Board works. It's gleefully animated and accompanied by wonderfully Panic-esque music, and perfectly sets the stage for the app experience that follows.

The default Status Board comes pre-populated by several meticulously crafted widgets, including Clock, Weather, Calendar, Mail, Twitter, and RSS. To edit the Status Board you simply tap the gear button. Then you can drag in, drag out, re-size, re-arrange, and re-configure all the widgets until the layout best suits your needs. Different display modes, which vary from widget to widget, include things like lists, tickers, and graphs. You've also got fairly good granular control over what you want displayed. You can turn off individual Calendars, birthdays, Twitter accounts, etc. You can also have multiple instances of widgets, for example, Twitter feed in one, @mentions in another.

Status Board supports portrait and landscape viewing modes, and the widgets enthusiastically leap about to make sure they're always in the right place. They don't always get it right, mind you, but Status Board will warn you when the placement isn't optimal and let you edit again to make it just so. It is possible to make layouts that don't work perfectly in both portrait and landscape, or cause some overlap. It's finicky at times, but there's almost always a slide-puzzle like solution.

There are also a couple of pro-level widgets like graph, table, and do-it-yourself, which can work even greater wonders if you give them a chance. Tutorials are available to show how to make these pro-level widgets work, and there's built-in integration with services like StatHat for data collection and HockeyApp for developer-centric metrics. This is the stuff that makes Status Board as valuable as it is beautiful.

While the iPhone excels at on-the-go data entry and access, the iPad's big screen has likewise made it ideal for data aggregation, visualization, and reporting. Status Screen caters perfectly to those strengths, and what's more, makes it fun.

With an in-app purchase, you can even unlock TV out and AirPlay, and show your Status Board off on your big screen TV. For startup living rooms or office conference rooms, if you're willing to pony up the cash, you can now have your very own Panic panel.

Status Board won't appeal to everyone, but it will get those who've been bugging Cabel, Steven, Neven, and company for the code off their 8-bit lawn. It will also appeal to anyone who wants a highly visual, incredibly glance-able way to keep an eye on the dates, times, messages, and conditions pertaining to our current projects, and our lives.

I've been playing with it -- and in this case play is absolutely the correct word -- and I've enjoyed it immensely. It's just so completely Panic is realization and attitude. And I really, really like that Panic is charging a sustainable price for their work, including the in-app purchase. For some, Status Board will be a luxury, the ability to buy just a bit of the Panic culture. For others, it will be a time saver. Both those things are valuable, and well worth the price of admission.

Get it now from the App Store.

And lest anyone's jealousy be anywhere close to sated by this release, Panic also sent also a sneak peek at the next-generation stuff they're already playing with...

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.