Musings and widgetlust

by Giles Turnbull

There's something familiar about the winning designs in Apple's Dashboard Widget Contest, announced last week.

Take a look at the soft curves and muted colors of Send SMS and WikityWidget; the interface is very shiny happy friendly. Very Aqua. Very lickable.

Remember the old days of OS X? When Steve Jobs described Aqua's UI elements as "lickable"? Many of those aspects of OS X have gone now, or remain in a much muted form. Starting with Jaguar, the shinyness began to disappear, to be replaced by a flatter, more sombre look.

These winning Widgets look to me like a return to the lickable application of old. And I think Widgets is a perfect place for this sort of UI design. They can be as gaudy as their designers like; since they're only on screen for a while, and won't be the kind of app people spend hours-long periods of time in, it doesn't matter so much. Keep the OS and the proper applications flatter and more sombre. When you're spending a lot of time in an application, you don't want it to turn your eyesight all jazzy.

I particularly like the look of WikityWidget, and it makes me wonder what kind of impact widgets might have on the wider Mac shareware marketplace. Might some application developers consider re-working their old .apps as widgets? Might there be free widget versions of paid-for applications?

What are the limitations of widgets? How far can Dashboard be pushed? At what point will we start seeing "widget bloat", where a widget becomes so crammed with features that it becomes better suited to being an application?

Have you been playing with widgets? What do you think?


2005-03-12 06:31:30
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