Should Apple remove Dashboard from OS X El Capitan?

Dashboard in OS X El Capitan looks like a relic from Apple's skeumorphic past

Apple is a very busy company, working on many different initiatives across all of its products. Unfortunately, this means that some features in certain products don't get much or any attention at all. This has proven to be the case with Dashboard in OS X El Capitan (I'm running the OS X El Capitan beta on my 5K iMac).

Dashboard, which features widgets that you can use for weather, the time, and other information tidbits has not been updated in years. In fact, when you look at Dashboard now it looks very dated compared to the rest of OS X El Capitan. When you see it, it feels like a throwback to Apple's skeumorphic past.

To the best of my knowledge, Apple has not made a peep about improving Dashboard, or at least bringing it up to date with the rest of OS X El Capitan in terms of design.

So is it time for Apple to remove Dashboard once and for all? I'll share my thoughts below, but first here's a sampling of opinion about Dashboard in OS X from a thread in the Apple subreddit:

Recklessfred: "They probably haven't touched it in years because it's going to be gone in one or two more."

Relatedartists: "Personally, I hope not. I actually use it to check on what day of the month a date is on the calendar widget. I set top left corner as a hot corner and all I do is swipe my cursor up there haphazardly and dashboard launches and I see the calendar. Super easy."

Codythekid: "Notification Center can do this too with the right widgets, and is easier to access."

ReportingAProblem: "I'm surprised they haven't removed it. Some apple exec must really like it."

Mkelty: "I use it all the time. Weather, calendar, thesaurus, calculator, package tracking, I'm in it every few minutes. I have it bound to cm-right click so I can jump in and out easily."

Nutburger: "You can change it so it comes on top if you have Yosemite. Go to System Preferences -> Mission control and change Dashboard from As Space to As Overlay and then set a key to press so that it comes up."

LoveLifeLiberty: "I love it. Two Calculators, calendar and stickies everywhere. I prefer when it comes on top and can still see what's behind."

Alterkatzenhund: "There may be a slim chance for dashboard becoming something like iOS mode for OSX. Something I would have expected allready had the new MacBook gone more in the direction of Microsoft's Surface. But maybe a possible iPad Air 3 will start in that direction."

Basically substitute the dashboard for the capability to run iOS apps. Yes that would need some programming effort by app developers but they allready have three different platforms to develop on and adding a fourth would not be that hard of a task.

Gweltch: "I feel Dashboard has been replaced by physical devices, i.e. iPhone and iPad. It was always meant to emulate the physical stuff on your desk anyway (calculator, calendar, clock) but now the physical stuff on your desk duplicates the stuff on the computer screen.

A seamless iOS mode would fit into the Apple business model though: If you have an iOS device then the apps open on that can also be interacted with from the computer if the app has a widget to support it. If you don't have an iOS device then you will need to buy one."

Jimmyjrg: "I'm always surprised it's still there, I've only ever used it by accident since it came out."

More at Reddit

As you can see, opinions varied among Apple redditors as to whether or not Dashboard still adds any real value to OS X at this point. 

I still use Dashboard in OS X El Capitan

I have very mixed feelings about the possibility of Dashboard being removed from OS X El Capitan by Apple. It clearly hasn't aged well compared to the rest of OS X El Capitan, and it's a bit of an eyesore when you look at it in terms of its design right now. It really does look like a leftover from Apple's skeumorphic past, and I can't help but wonder why the company has forgotten about it.

But I've also found Dashboard to be very useful when I'm sitting at my Mac and I want to know what the temperature outside is or what the weather will be like for the next few days. I just use a three-fingered swipe to the left and presto! There's the weather widget right in Dashboard.

osx el capitan dashboard widgets

My Dashboard widgets in OS X El Capitan.

osx el capitan dashboard widget selection

The dashboard widget selection screen in OS X El Capitan.

Of course I could always get the weather information from Notification Center too. But for some reason I'm hooked on Dashboard and continue to use it instead of Notification Center. I'm not sure why, maybe I'm just a creature of habit or something. I've tried to remind myself to use Notification Center instead of Dashboard, but I inevitably end up using Dashboard despite my best efforts to avoid it.

Apple needs to make a decision about Dashboard in OS X El Capitan

I think it's time for Apple to let OS X users know what its plans are for Dashboard going forward. If it's going to remove Dashboard then OS X El Capitan is probably a good opportunity to get rid of it once and for all. I'm sure that some people will be very upset about losing Dashboard, but sometimes a quick, clean break with the past is the best way to handle something like this.

But if Apple is going to keep Dashboard then I think it's time to for the company to spend some time thinking about what it wants Dashboard to be, and then Apple should allocate the design and developer resources to update Dashboard so it looks like the rest of OS X El Capitan. Letting it languish in the land of skeumorphic design just isn't going to cut it for much longer, given all of the other design changes in OS X El Capitan in recent years.

We'll have to wait and see what Apple does with Dashboard. Right now I'm not feeling optimistic about the company keeping Dashboard in OS X El Capitan, given the total lack of development and design progress. I suspect that Apple will eventually pull the plug and Dashboard will go away. But I could be wrong about that, only Apple knows exactly what will happen.

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