Widgets are these teeny tiny applications that usually do one thing. They serve a purpose by saving you time from having to open a larger, more powerful, application.
User Scenario: Checking the weather
I could load up the S60 browser, my homepage is google.com, and type in "Weather Helsinki, Finland" into the search box, hit enter and boom I have my data.
Load up the weather widget. Read the data I need. Close the widget.
User Scenario: Checking football scores
I want to know if Germany is kicking France’s ass. I have to go to FIFA.com, and find the game I want information on.
Download the official German Football team widget so I can keep track of all their games with just a single click.
On paper the widget concept looks like a clear winner. Fewer steps = increased productivity = more free time. Maybe I’m just stubborn, but I still refuse to use them.
I think it all comes down to the fact that I don’t want to go hunting for widgets when hunting for the information I need is just a 1 second Google search away. As computers are getting faster, smarter and more human like I can totally see a future where I pick up my phone, ask "What temperature is it in Madrid?" and get a verbal response back.
Widgets may seem like a shortcut to information, but they are actually adding an extra step to the equation. Yes, once you find a widget you don’t have to download it twice, but what is the cost of my time in locating said widget?
Google is getting smarter and larger everyday. Search engine companies are spending millions, if not billions, of dollars on research to develop a search tool that actually reacts to human language, not keywords.
Some may find the search term "Weather Helsinki, Finland" barbaric, most would prefer typing in "What is the temperature in Helsinki?" We aren’t there yet, but when we do reach that point, where will widgets stand?
It’s bad enough that there isn’t a standard widget framework. Windows Vista Gadgets, Mac OS X Widgets, Google Homepage Widgets, Netvibes, Pageflakes, the list goes on forever. If your a developer then you’re entering into a world of pain you can’t comprehend.
I really want to share the same enthusiasm Phil has, but I just can’t.
As a developer what makes S60 widgets attractive? Standard web technologies?
Why wouldn’t I be interested in something like Flash Lite? They [Adobe] will be adding video support and more importantly Flash Lite is a cross platform runtime. Not to mention Adobe Apollo is going to get a mobile version too.
It’s a double edged sword. I love S60 for the limitless capabilities it can offer, but at the same I believe that developers want their work to be enjoyed by the most amount of people. Flash Lite is shipping version 2.1 now, Java has been around for ages and FP2 devices have yet to appear.
Here is all the coverage on Nokia’s new Widget platform I could find:
- 12 minute 18 second audiocast of Nokia CTO Tero OjanperÃ¤ announcing the platform
- Official Nokia Press Release announcing widgets
- A few demos and more information about the Web Run-Time
- MRKTNGman talking about widgets
- Episode 20 of the Voice of S60 is 23 minutes 55 seconds long with Ganesh Sivaraman
I’m not going to lie, I will try the S60 widgets once I get a FP2 device and I encourage you guys to do so as well.
For now, I’m a skeptic.