Yahoo Widgets: Is this the way to do it?
Yahoo has announced their new Yahoo Widgets 4 and it looks very promising. Mashable has a nice writeup and Techcrunch adds some strong perspective.
I love widgets…though the ones I actually use are few since they’re a little cumbersome. I’m a guy that doesn’t like clutter and I find the Dashboard in Mac OS X to be unusable since it requires hitting an “F” key, the widgets zoom in and then it takes roughly 45 seconds to have each of them go over the ‘net and fetch their data.
Using one of the start pages ((e.g., Netvibes, Pageflakes, yourminis, Google, even Yahoo,
etc.) still requires me to populate one of them with widgets but are more useful since I, like many of us, use multiple computers from several locations. Having all my widgets in one place available on the Internet is a beautiful thing.
Still, there is alot of useful stuff that widgets could deliver that I’d love to have just sitting on my desktop. Here’s where Yahoo has done something useful: all the widgets can sit in their own dock…which you can scroll through too if you’ve snagged lots of widgets.
Apple with Dashboard and Microsoft with Vista are both delivering this same sort of functionality at the operating system level. Why would someone need yet another dock full ‘o widgets sitting on their desktop?
I’m not yet sure. A handful of widgets might be useful on my desktop, but usually a few times per day I’m stuffing my Macbook Pro in my briefcase and heading out, getting connected in various locations. Having a startpage with widgets living in a Web page is significantly more useful for me and, I suspect, with the increasing number of people who are mobile.
Which brings up the one thing that throttles my widget enthusiasm, regardless of what Yahoo, Google, and all the start page players are doing: and that’s mobile. If there was a way for me to invest my energy in widgets that I could instantly have accessible from my mobile device, THAT is the way I’d go so I could have my stuff regardless of where I am and what device I’m using. I’m working on achieving complete mobility so that I have 100% of everything I need wherever I am at the moment. All files, all functionality, everything sync’ed without me even thinking about it. Could this be in Apple’s plans with the iPhone and the Leopard OS? Would that give them a significant competitive advantage in the Internet-as-a-platform, participatory culture and mobile worker paradigm?
UPDATE: Unbeknownst to me, (and this is a very good thing), the W3C has a Widget 1.0 working draft in place (via Open Gardens).
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About Steve Borsch
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Connecting the Dots Podcast
Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.
In case you haven’t heard, yourminis.com now also has desktop support, although as someone pointed out it’s alpha software running on alpha software (we’re leveraging the power of Adobe’s Apollo platform). But to your point, we’re also seriously looking at the mobile space. We have already built (although not yet deployed) some of our widgets with Flash Lite – which will ultimately allow them to run on Flash Lite devices, including new Verizon cell phones… It’s definitely an interesting space…