Home > Uncategorized > No More Widgets, please, no more.

No More Widgets, please, no more.

December 29, 2009

I just read an article from the Financial Post Tech Desk; an interview with Mike Lazaridis.

An interesting Question and part of the answer from Mr. Lazaridis spawned a thought that disturbed me a little. I’ll begin with it here.

FP: It seems that the way that many people are interacting with the mobile web, or the Web through a mobile device, is through applications and it seems to be creating a bit of a walled garden effect. I’m just curious how you see that evolution of the mobile experience. What kind of a role do you think the browser and mobile applications will play in how we access the Web on a mobile device going forward?

ML: That’s a very insightful question. A lot of applications — I’d argue upwards of 70 per cent — are really just re-purposed Websites.

Take note that I cut off more than 1 paragraph from Mr. Lazaridis’ answer because this is where my thoughts began to flood in. In actuality it wasn’t as a debate, but more of a concern.

Take note that I cut off more than 1 paragraph from Mr. Lazaridis’ answer because this is where my thoughts began to flood in. In actuality it wasn’t as a debate, but more of a concern.

It’s becoming more and more evident that the majority of developers are becoming either:

A) Lazy (which I personally feel),
B) in-experienced and not willing to put in the time & effort, or,
C) Spreading themselves thin and trying to maximize on profits by jumping on too many platforms at once and seeing what fills their bank accounts.

Creating web based applications, a combination of HTML, SOAP, XML, and Javascript (essentially widgets), to create a GUI with limited controls for an application that MUST connect to a central cloud server in order for it to be of any use is really a cop-out. Yes I called it a cop-out!!

Widgets, used to cover the whole web-based app theme/trend, are too limited to fully encompass what main apps are meant to do. Some would argue “the cloud” (server) is the supreme source of any app, service or computational power. This for the latter two can be true, but out of the 3 the first two could be the app. To me the widget is an excuse & a gain either at the same time or the left/right hand of the equation ~ Apps vs Widgets which makes THE best interactive experience for the end user.

Widgets allow for Developers to make an interactive experience for the end user quickly, using the most efficient use of their time and allowing for a quicker and wider spread of their work across multiple platforms with little or minor adjustments between them. Widgets ALSO mask the skills of any developer in that it allows a developer with minimal skills of said platform to be able to code a powerful application & experience rich in features and interactive UI.

I know I’m not making any new friends, or maintaining those that previously would have been followers of this humble blog by making these comments. And I know I’ll most likely create MORE enemies or one’s that like me less due to them. But as you can see vs most other blogs, I’m not doing this for the money (although THAT would be a welcome thing at this time in my life), I do it to voice my opinion in full, my perception if you will on what is going on in the mobile computing space that we hold in our hands.

When we, you, me, developers, think of widgets we need to think of two major things. For Widgets to truly work they NEED to have a consistent/persistent connection to the internet ~or~ They need to rely heavily on new data from the internet at very frequent intervals to remain relevant, useful, and remain of interest to the end user. Another thing to consider about widgets, is the not just the lack of power of this interaction but also the lack unlimited data plans across so many countries around the world where many of these smartphones are available. And I don’t mean just available but thriving in sales; Indonesia, Canada, and many others STILL do NOT have unlimited data plans for local data consumption on smartphones of ANY kind!

Wait! could it be the main reason behind the trend of such widgets is lead by company’s whom already have many of your services in the cloud? Ahem, AOL, Google, Yahoo, and even some of Microsoft’s services are in the cloud. Collectively, they all have Email, IM, hosted personal sites, pictures, videos, and many of your data that you submit, share, and consume (free/cost). So … widgets although the majority of them are FREE, the lead to higher consumption of data (which is not free to a few million of us), and to a lackluster experience that needs data to the hosts cloud and possibly more spending by you. Maybe not now, but the trend to spend more on cloud services or be bombarded by ads WILL increase and very quickly.

There are beneficial reasons for Widgets; like them evolving to support HTML5 or JSR271/MIDP3 but until then we really need to wait to see their potential in favor for the end user grow. I’ll leave any current benefit for you the reader to comment on (no spam please), I’d really like to read and rebuttal our opinions.

So Developers, give us powerful apps that don’t consistently NEED to connect to a cloud for us end users to get real use out of using them. If you concentrate on widgets more than localized core coded applications, true applications that take advantage of the core OS API’s, then your Widget is nothing more than … a Browser. This is fine for a Desktop/Laptop/Netbook or sub-notebook, but NOT for an interactive personal communicator/mobile computing platform that we take with use anywhere and fit in our pockets.

Widgets are nothing more than glorified and pitiful web browsers. I’ll be more than happy to concede but show me a Widget, especially on a BlackBerry (my current platform of choice) that offers equal power to an actual native code (J2ME with rimlets) and equal UI that can serve the end user with either minimal data use or no data use.

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