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DashPad brings the Dashboard to the iPad, sort of...

DashPad (US$9.99) takes a unique approach to putting a Dashboard on your iPad. Instead of using an app, (which would never get approved by Apple), or jailbreaking, it uses Safari to serve an iPad specific page that contains eight widgets. More widgets will be coming, according to DashPad's developer Pixlcreations.

Here's how it works. First you're taken to Paypal to tender your payment which triggers an email containing a username, password and a link to the site. After entering the information DashPad opens the Mobile Safari page where you'll find eight widgets: Clock, Calendar, Calculator, Unit Converter, Sticky Note, Yellow Pages Search, Google Search, and Weather. This is presented just as you'd expect it, with the widgets on the bottom regardless of how you hold the iPad.

The rest of the screen is a white field. Just like Mac widgets, you tap on one to activate it and tap on it again to dismiss it. The widgets can all be moved around on the screen. A button shows or hides the widget bar. When you leave the app, it remembers the position of your widgets and the contents of the Sticky Note. It also allows you to put an icon on your iPad's desktop for quick access, which of course you can do with any Safari page.

This is fine if you've become really accustomed to using widgets on your Mac and miss not having them on your iPad. It's a really neat idea, but after using it, I found quite a number of limitations. You can't install your own widgets, since they are a part of the Mobile Safari page, however when new ones come out, they will be there the next time DashPad is run.

After not using Dashpad for a day or so you will have to put in your username and password again. This, I'm told, is a security measure and they are working on a way to delay authentication longer. This alone kills the idea of a quick and easy way to get bits of information all at the same time and I would consider authentication at this frequency a deal-breaker.

You are only allowed one Sticky Note, which can be as long as you want and is scrollable. More will be coming, but one is what you get now. The Weather widget, which requires your zip code, doesn't remember it upon re-launch. The Google Search isn't useful since it does exactly the same thing as the search bar already showing in Safari. It brings up a new page. Of course hitting the usual icon brings up the screen showing your last six Safari pages and you can easily get back to DashPad, but this brings nothing to the table that you already don't have.

It does have potential though and you might like it, but to find out you'll have to pony up the $9.99. I consider paying first bad marketing, especially since it would be possible to let you try it out for a few days and if you didn't pay up, the authentication would stop working. Personally, I don't think it's worth the price -- but if you're really enamored with your Dashboard, you might think differently.

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