A MacStories Roundup: iPad Shelf Apps

I’ve kept my ears shut off for the summer, but kudos to MacStories for introducing me to an entirely new kind of app:

Earlier this year Federico laid out his wishes for iOS 11 in a concept video and accompanying article, and many of his hopes came true: we now have drag and drop, the Files app, and a variety of other improvements in iOS 11. But one major idea from the concept is missing from iOS 11: a shelf where content can be dropped and stored temporarily. Fortunately though, the App Store has a robust developer base, and several third-party apps are launching alongside iOS 11 to remedy this omission.

The need for a shelf springs from the addition of drag and drop to iOS 11. It’s not always practical to drag content directly from one app to another; sometimes you know you’ll need that content soon, but you’re not ready to drop it elsewhere yet. Additionally, in some situations you may wish to drop the same data into multiple places over a short period of time, and it can be cumbersome to re-open the data’s source app to pull it out multiple times. A shelf can solve these problems: it serves as a temporary resting place for anything you know you’ll need quick access to soon. In this way it can serve a role similar to the macOS desktop, which is commonly used as a temporary holding zone.

While Federico originally envisioned the shelf as a baked-in iOS feature, thanks to some of the multitasking changes in iOS 11, third-party shelf apps can remarkably still offer a systemwide solution that works just as well as an iPad power user might hope.

Two thoughts:

I downloaded Dropped, the first recommendation on the MacStories list. I threw it in my dock, slid it into Slide Over, and nearly instantly felt a rush of efficiency. “Oh, that looks interesting!” Throw it into Dropped. “I might need that later.” Throw it into Dropped.

Why Dropped? I think it looks the best — Apple’s design language in iOS 11 (big, bold, left-aligned fonts and rounded corners) have been adopted full fledge in Dropped. Pretty vain of me, I guess.

Secondly, and this is more ideological: Isn’t it impressive the blogging community is capable of creating an entire category of software application? The App Store itself is a billion-dollar industry created by a computer company, but the “shelf app” industry could now be attributed to the blogging community.

That’s pretty powerful.