Today is the release of Dashboard, my new, FREE app and my second (personal) app to be published for iOS! While I am a little behind in my goal of three apps for the year, I am proud to get another one out. It is another itch scratcher, an app that I had a need for and that I hope others will find useful. This week we look at the itch that Dashboard is scratching.
I don’t drive to unfamiliar places very often. My sense of direction is pretty good. Still I find myself constantly with a maps app open when I’m driving. Why? Because I like to see what’s going on around me. I like to see the traffic conditions. This awareness makes me a better and more informed driver.
Another thing the maps apps give me is a compass. Tell me where North is and I am pretty good at finding my way around. I wish more maps apps came with compasses on them.
And I cannot ignore the speedometer. I know there’s already one on the vehicle, but I find that having a speedometer at a slightly higher elevation helps me to keep my eyes on the road. It’s kind of the next best thing to having a HUD (heads-up-display) like the kind fighter pilots get (I dream of one day having a true HUD in my car).
There is something else that makes me a better driver. By better I mean “happier” and what driver isn’t better at driving than when they’re happy (especially California drivers). I love listening to music and podcasts while I’m driving. This doesn’t always bode well with my maps app though. I often find myself needing to skip a song or rewind a podcast a minute or two to hear something interesting again. But switching apps is far from convenient.
I want an app that meshes these features together. Not necessarily to do it all, but something that would do the important things well.
The problem is that I couldn’t find any app that did all of these. And many apps are not really designed for at-a-glance usage.
Dashboard was built to help by combining these needs into an interface that was easy and quick. It has a minimal interface because too much data would be distracting, but it gives enough information to help increase the situational awareness of the driver. And it has some quick and easy to use music controls built right in so that there isn’t any crazy app switching going on.
There is a lot of room for growth, so many areas that I would like to take it. But right now it’s simple and useful. It is shipped, and that’s the most important thing. There are a lot of directions to take it for the next release. But I am really anxious to hear what other people think first.
The future of Dashboard
Here are some of the ideas that I am considering for the future:
- Directions: While it’s not something I use a lot, I think adding navigation in will make it even more useful for a lot of people.
- Trip tracking: How far did you go? How long did it take? What was your average speed? These are things that I am always curious about, and with export functionality it could provide useful information about your commute. A lot of modern cars will give you some of these, but not all of them; and my car doesn’t give me any of them.
I do not have a timeframe for these features. I have already started on my third app and my focus will be there for the next few months. But I very much look forward to revisiting Dashboard for the next version. Until then, I hope it’s current state is enough to be helpful to people.
And now, the disclaimer: No one should interact with the app while driving. But that is the point of Dashboard. It is meant to be hands off. Safety and local laws are always to be observed by the user and this is not meant to be a sneaky a way around any of that. If the temptation is too high then don’t even download the app.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the app. It’s free! So head over to the App Store and download it and let me know what you think.