Will NetVibes See The Huge Opportunity on iPad?
Techcrunch had this post today about NetVibes launching a new auto-dashboard and tracking service, and it sparked a thought about my new iPad and I had to discover if the NetVibes service I used to know would be an efficient method of having a single spot to aggregate lots of sites and RSS feeds.
Most of the functionality works, but the same latency issues remain and a couple of iPad-centric ones emerge as I’ll explain, but those are trivial to the opportunity the iPad presents for NetVibes.
NetVibes is the best “start page” or “portal creator” engine out there in my opinion. It’s trivial to create tabs (like those you see in the screenshot above) and populate them with widgets that are either standalone ones for news, weather, sports, email, calendar, Twitter, Facebook or other news feeds and hosted applications and you can create your own widgets too. It’s also incredibly attractive and there are hundreds of “skins” to customize the look, feel and color schemes or you can create your own from scratch.
While this isn’t an exhaustive post about the functionality of NetVibes, I was quite delighted to logon just before lunchtime and see that a “dashboard” which I’d created over a year ago functioned perfectly on my iPad, though was a bit crowded with the 22 tabs I had in it (a number of tabs which looked fine on my huge desktop monitor, but a bit cramped on the iPad).
On that dashboard I removed a bunch of the old tabs and their content and tweaked the dashboard and you can see the result in the shot above. If I grow to love this use on iPad, I might take advantage of building multiple dashboards (instantly accessible under the dropdown menu “Dashboard” you see above) and I can have all of those deleted tabs back!
One issue I had was that I couldn’t use my finger to drag-n-drop a widget in to a column and there were also some other issues with design that forced me to use my computer to create and then refresh the page on my iPad. I suspect this has more to do with WebKit support problems than the iPad itself, but NetVibes must fix this immediately so that iPad users can do 100% of the design and layout with NetVibes or blow a HUGE opportunity to be the starter for the iPad!
The only other issue I have is the same one I had when using it on my desktop (and why I never embraced NetVibes for my desktop or laptop computer use): Each time you click on a tab the widgets re-populate themselves with data and they each have to create a web connection, retrieve the data, render it in the widget, and display it to you. While that sounds trivial, it feels like it takes a long time to load each one–much longer than what the equivalent loading of a news web page or iGoogle, for example–and I’ve never been able to get around that latency.
So why do I care enough now to write about NetVibes on my iPad?
Here’s why: It will be roughly six months before the multitasking operating system will be available for the iPad and this NetVibes dashboard will save me A LOT OF TIME in using my iPad. Who knows…perhaps there will be some speed increases coming or I’ll learn to accept the lag time.
But the cool capability of “Instant Dashboards” is really intriguing (read NetVibes post on it here). This will get people pretty excited and I tried it out, creating an “iPad Dashboard” and it instantly created one with five tabs: General (email, Twitter, stuff like that); iPad News/iPad Videos/iPad Conversations/iPad Google (the last one a keyword search on Google and the resulting page of results…refreshed each time you click and open that tab).
So it will be interesting to see if *I* continue with NetVibes as well as whether or not NetVibes will see (and seize) the opportunity the iPad presents!