Everyone loves widgets. Whether you’re using Vista or a Mac, they’re impossible not to adore. But until now they’ve struggled to make the leap to mobile. Competing platforms have made them hard to share, but Vodafone’s latest initiative could put an end to that.
Launching in the next few days, the network’s Widget Manager will initially launch in beta for five phones, mostly Nokia smartphones, but also a Samsung handset, presumably the Symbian-powered i8510.
It’ll deliver neat widgets for everything from shopping sites to weather and news services. OK, so it’s a bit similar to Nokia’s own Widsets app, but here’s the crucial difference: where Widsets is a closed system, Vodafone’s Widget Manager conforms to completely open standards. That should mean widgets written for other platforms should also run inside it, as long as those platforms comply with the W3C widget standard.
For the first time it means mobile widgets won’t be locked down to particular handsets, or even platforms. Vodafone’s pushing standards hard, to make tapping into widgets on your phone easier, and faster, than ever.
Erik de Kroon, Vodafone’s head of marketing for internet discovery explained the difference between the new Widget Manager, and rivals such as Nokia’s Widsets app.
“[Widsets] is a Java platform, so it’s not open. Widget Manager is built on Opera, so it’s faster and easier to write for. It uses open standards.”
Vodafone’s expecting a deluge of widgets once its mobile app launches, with the W3C standard making it easy for developers to create one version of their software that’ll run on many devices.
“Widgets offer a better experience than web browsing on a phone.” explained de Kroon. “They only update the important information, and they’re fast. The ones you see at first will be simple, but over time you’ll see ones that integrate with the functions of the phone.”
Sounds tasty. Get a first look at Vodafone’s Widget Manager below. It’ll be available through Vodafone Live in the next few days, and pre-installed on compatible Vodafone handsets in the near future.
TBC | £free | Vodafone