Reinvent your macOS desktop experience

Mac App Store (SwiftUI) | GitHub (Flutter)


Hourglass transforms how you use Mac desktop. With a full-screen conical gradient rotating like a clock, your Mac is more lively than ever. Four corners are filled with customizable information, like time, calendar, weather, and now-playing, making Hourglass not only looking good but also working great.


Hourglass was originally a flutter clock contest project. In this repo I explained my thoughts on clockfaces for smart devices like Nest Hub, that I want the device to embrace the environment and become "ambient." Therefore, the interface should be intuitive and effortless. The presentation of information should not be achieved by complex views but rather just geometry, color, and short labels.

And that is where the conical gradient comes - it rotates like a normal clock, but the color gradient itself is a metaphor for sun, sky, and ground, which animates over time and weather conditions. The underlying calculation is done using the HSV (Hue, Saturation, Value) color model, and it is pretty straightforward :

  • Night -> overall darker colors -> V-
  • Day -> overall lighter colors -> V+
  • Hot -> overall more vibrant colors -> S+
  • Foggy -> still bright, but colors faded -> S- V+
  • Rainstorm -> darker, but with contrast -> S+ V-

I didn't win the flutter clock contest, but the idea of having such an elegant clock stayed in my mind until I figured out I can have it running on macOS as a live wallpaper.


The flutter equivalent in the macOS ecosystem is, naturally, SwiftUI. I took it for a spin, and it actually ran pretty well on M1 Macs, even in multi-monitor rendering mode. It took me a while to properly bridge NSWindow with SwiftUI because firstly, there is currently no multiple windows support in SwiftUI 2 + SceneGroup API, and secondly, I had to use a custom NSWindow class to set a window level lower enough to become a live desktop, that is, all menu and folder icons will still be displayed on top of my NSWindow.

I even used SwiftUI to animate the DockTile, so the icon will sync with the wallpaper, and it is pretty fun.


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Last updated at Aug 18, 2021 9:00 AM
Originally created at Aug 18, 2021 9:00 AM