WIRED Mentions Widgets

Widgets app icon on colorful backgroundIt was getting late, on this first Saturday night after Thanksgiving. Not feeling well, possibly catching a cold, I decided to do something less mentally taxing. That basically meant doing work that could be done from my iPad. Snuggled under a warm blanket, I decided to check on my SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Would people find “Photics” if they searched for the words “Dashboard Replacement” online? In running this experiment, I found an interesting article from WIRED.

In the article entitled RIP Dashboard, the MacOS Feature I Don’t Want to Live Without, Security Reporter Lily Hay Newman opined about the loss of Dashboard. Since macOS 10.15 (Catalina) launched, I’ve been receiving emails of a similar tone. Lots and lots of people miss Dashboard. Newman eloquently surmises the situation in her ~1000 word article.

Dated 10/15/2019, I’m fairly certain that I’ve seen this article before. The graphic looked memorable. Yet, I don’t remember reading the article. I was too busy fixing technical issues with the Widgets app. Since I was taking time to unwind this holiday weekend, I decided to take a closer look.

I’m sure I’ll find something to fill the void that Dashboard leaves behind in my life.

That was the reason I was looking more closely at this article. Why was it a match for the “macOS Dashboard Replacement” search term? Surprisingly, I saw this…

There are also independent options, like Widgets by Photics, which is $5 in the App Store.

This article is over a month old. How did I miss this? Oh yeah… and yeah.

For years, I had been trying to get press coverage for my apps. It’s normally a fruitless endeavor. Not that I blame the media. My background is in Journalism. As an editor, lots of stuff used to cross my desk. There just wasn’t enough time to cover everything. And in the print world, there isn’t enough space. With the Widgets app, I didn’t even bother alerting the media about its launch. Instead, I just focused on making the app something people would want to use – every day!

That’s why this line is particularly interesting…

There are much more pressing problems in the world than the death of Dashboard

Yes, it is true. There are larger problems in the world to fix. But this problem, this is the one I chose to fix. This particular problem actually has much bigger ramifications than most imagine. Let’s just say I’m planning to work on Widgets for many years to come. For now, I can address this…

But it’ll be a long time before I stop habitually pressing Fn-F12 to check the weather.

It looks like a certain WIRED staff writer is in for a treat when the next update launches. On my Mac, sitting in an Xcode project, is a version of the Widgets app with a working F12 toggle.

That’s right, I got it working! 😁

For three months, I had been having back-and-forth conversations with Apple Developer Technical Support. It’s a fairly technical matter and I just wasn’t getting it. Part of the problem was the “Contacts” issue. I couldn’t focus on the “F12” issue while there was an app launch blocker. But with the launch of version 1.8 of the Widgets app, that problem was fixed. I could focus on adding the highly requested feature. Newman wasn’t the only one using the F12 key to check the weather.

The desktop support folks at Apple are currently on vacation. While my app works locally, I’m not sure if it’s production quality. I’m awaiting feedback. Additionally, I’m not quite sure if Apple will approve this change. The next version of the Widgets app (while running) is set to claim a key on the keyboard as its own.

Is that even allowed? 🤷🏻‍♂️

Oh yeah, I also added the ability to rearrange widgets. Those are two huge features that are being prepared for launch. While future development is not guaranteed, perhaps the next update will be available soon – like before Christmas.