Widgets is a collection of digital gadgets, designed to inform, entertain and assist you. It is also the most ambitious Photics project ever undertaken. The goal for Widgets is to create 50 useful blocks. Currently, there are seven widgets. While less than… (uh, I should make a percentage calculator widget) …15% of the target, this was enough to clear an important hurdle. The app passed Apple’s review. Widgets is currently available for pre-order. 🎉
September 23, 2019 is the launch date for Widgets. It’s a $5 app, available in the Mac App Store (USA Only).
That date was chosen because that’s my best guess as to when macOS 10.15 (“Catalina”) will launch. Widgets was created to be a replacement to Dashboard, and Dashboard is not included in the next macOS update. It’s disappointing that the Dashboard app is being removed. However, Widgets should be unique. It should be different. It should be better. Key features highlight the differences.
You won’t have to worry about widgets covering each other in the new app. Widgets was designed to flow like water. The widgets align like soldiers, as they’re organized by row – nice and straight! However, the widgets can expand to fill the available space, or squoosh down to compact themselves in a tiny area. The video demonstrates this feature in action.
That’s very handy, as it lets you use the app in a way that you prefer. Maybe you want Widgets to be displayed off-to-the-side. Maybe you want to run Widgets in full screen. That’s up to you.
Widgets respects your resources. According to the Xcode performance monitor, the app regularly runs at 0-3% CPU usage. While this number may grow a bit after more widgets are added, the general idea is to respect your hardware resources. Less CPU usage means a cooler running machine. For laptops, that’s better for your battery. Less wasted battery power means less electronic waste. Less electricity wasted is not only better for the environment, it’s better for your wallet too.
Memory usage is fairly light. Storage space is also light too. The app is currently listed at 5.9 MB on the Mac App Store. The general idea is to limit each widgets to a maximum of 1 MB each. That would put the final app at approximately 25 MB. (Exceptions might be made for truly exceptional widgets.)
While the final set of features is still in flux, a project goal is to include a ridiculous amount of customization. In addition to having settings for most widgets, the overall look can be customized too – zoom/scale, themes (including dark mode) and overall styling.
About the widgets
If you’re like me, you use Dashboard many times a day. Widgets is designed to be just as useful. But to get there, a lot of work needs to be done. I’ve been happy to do it. I’ve really been enjoying this project, even if I didn’t take the easy route. The calculator didn’t need to include scientific buttons, but they were added. As for the Weather widget, that took way longer than I thought it would.
It would have been easy to just use existing icons… but noooooo! These are custom-made icons, crafted specifically for Widgets. The images are vector graphics files, for infinite scalability.
To keep Widgets lightweight, each widget has been hand-coded for maximum efficiency. While using third-party libraries could speed up production, that might hinder performance. The initial screen-load time of Widgets is comparable to a blink. Do it slowly and you might miss it.
Widgets is meant to load instantly. Is this the most ridiculously optimized app ever? No, but it loads quick and it shouldn’t cause your Mac’s CPU fans to suddenly start spinning. To do otherwise would be bad design. A project goal is to maintain that lightweight performance, even as more widgets are added.
There is much to do! If you’re interested in this digital journey, preorder Widgets today! It’s a great way to show encouragement. Preordering also gets you the app as soon as it’s available. If you have questions or comments about Widgets, use the Contact Form. If you want to preorder, here’s the link…