Depending on where you sit in terms of mobile use andor understanding, the idea of a smartphone that has the ability to use various services and applications can be an appealing thing. For me, its the way that I live (in respect to being mobile) and so I not only choose my device platforms, but whether I’d like to interact with an application or not carefully.
This is one of the reasons that I’ve really taken a liking to the Symbian and Maemo mobile platforms. Both have the pedegree of Nokia and several other global companies infused into their design and everyday use. And while there are newer platforms in the iPhone, Google Android, and Palm/HP webOS ones which are highlighting some excellent devices and services. I’m drawn to these two maturer platforms because they give me choice.
Lately, choice has presented itself in this idea of whether I need an application, or simply a web-connected widget in order to get something done. We are all familiar with the idea of an application, something developed specifically for that device platform. But, widgets are different in that while they might be targeted for one platform, their basis in being made with the same stuff that makes web pages makes widgets something less like a website, and more like an application. Its an “almost application” if you will.
And I’m for using these things hook, line, and sinker.
I just downloaded the OpenTable widget for my N97 – thinking that it was an application based on what I read. And you know something, it makes more sense as a widget. I’m always accessing real-time data, and I’m doing real-time tasks.
Another widget that I use fairly often is the AccuWeather widget. Its weather. But, really, do you need a whole application for data that’s updated all the time and available? Exactly.
If you will, the idea of having widgets means that I can have “apps” that are essentially lighter, but more directed towards a kind of use that says give me or get to some data right now. Applications are a bit different, a bit richer, and not necessarly connected. My address book for instance, I don’t want that as a widget no matter how many social networks that I’m a part of.
Looking at the change happening in my life now, and where mobile is going to be taking an even larger place; I think of this idea of widgets versus applications as being something that might be bigger than I’ve been giving it attention towards. Widgets will allow me the kind of rich contextual mobile life that will drive me to use applications better. And some applications will drive me to wanting widget-like containers for certain types of information.
Its not really a one or the other, but a what is best for giving me the information I want to interact with. To those platforms that have an “app or none” stance, you miss out on this matter of choice. And possibly even, on something worth taking a bit less of your energies.