Friday, November 10, 2006

Are Widgets worthless?

A caustically funny article by Mac360 states an unpleasant truth: Widgets are useless.
To quote:

Dashboard Widgets are worthless curiosities with high calories and low nutritional value, toy utilities for the weak minded, popular with recent switchers from Windows PCs, who, it seems, are attracted to glitter and bright colors, and Apple delivered.
I remember when Widgets were first rumored. I didn't believe them. Everything about them, including their design, seemed diametrically opposite to whatever Apple does. Sometimes I go hunting for widgets that make sense, but usually return empty-handed.

Here's what I use widgets for.

  1. Weather. I'm an expat, and thus I have a Weather widget up for my native Budapest as well as my current home, Luxembourg. I also put up weather widgets for my holiday destinations, or the current locations of some of my closest friends.
  2. Calculator. It's nice to have one around at the touch of a button.
  3. iTunes album art fetch. I don't even remember the name of the widget. I guess fetching iTunes album art is such an unimportant task that I wouldn't go to the trouble of launching a full-blown app for it, but a Dashboard Widget is painless enough.
  4. Translation. The widget beats the hell out of the clumsy web interfaces we have.
To sum it up: Widgets are nice when you need some fast piece of information, or to do some simple task, but don't really want to launch an app (or website) for it, either because the app (or web interface) in question would be a bit inconvenient, or because the information or task is so profoundly unimportant that it's just not worth the hassle. Or both.

I wonder if Widgets have a potential to mature a bit. I have the feeling that a few killer Widgets are yet to be conceived and built.


Dylan said...

I dispute the "uselessness" of widgets...

I use the world clocks constantly. I work with people in several time zones. That is damned useful. Also, the conversion wizard is useful (I'll grant you, I should know how to convert Fahrenheit to Centigrade in my head, but, man also created tools like calculators, so we don't have to spend as much time doing math.)

Finally, there is the dictionary/thesaurus.

In fact I will go so far to say that all of my widgets are useful, including the weather app!

Shiny though they may be, they are also very useful.

Puiz said...

Yes, but compare your limited use of (mostly Apple-supplied) Widgets (very similar to mine) to the tens of thousandsof Widgets available. The author of the original article has a point: most of them are totally useless.

Anonymous said...

Widgets are long tail. There is no killer, global widget. I have several ocean tide widgets so I can figure out which beach to walk on, a stock market widget so I can tell if I need to call my broker, several webcam widgets so I can pick the day's trail, the weather widget and the dictionary widget.

If I were a pigeon fancier, I imagine I might have a pigeon blog RSS feed or two, a pigeon web cam so I wouldn't have to run up to the roof all the time, maybe a GPS tracker for one or two of my pigeons, a commodities ticker for pigeon feed and the like.

Lucky for me, I'm not a pigeon fancier, but you get the idea.