The Apple iPhone is a breathtaking departure from the stale smart phone market. Everyone loves the iPhone’s huge screen and eye-candy user interface. But many expressed disappointment when Steve Jobs announced that the iPhone applications environment would not follow the PC model of software installed on the phone, but instead a “thin-client” model of Web-based applications launched through the phone’s wireless connection to the Internet.
I think the focus on Web-based applications and widgets, rather than directly installed on the phone, is one of the best things — possibly THE best thing — about the iPhone.
The reason people were lukewarm about the idea is that most smart phone users hate using the Internet on their phones. It’s slow, the content is hard to read, navigation is a pain and typing URLs is frustrating.
What iPhone users will learn over the next year as new Web-based widgets come on-line is the Internet content and application experience can be really great — far better than either phone browsing or phone-based applications.
I know this because I’ve been using iPhone-like widgets — first on my Treo, then on my BlackBerry Pearl — for a year now.
My source for widgets is a service called Plusmo. I use Plusmo not only for instant access to Web content (without browsing), but also to “mobilize” my personal blog, The Raw Feed. (If you visit my blog you’ll see a cell phone on the upper right side of the page. That links to my blog’s widget on the Plusmo.com site.)
How it works is that, you go to plusmo.com with your phone’s browser to install the application on your phone, then visit the site with your Web browser to choose from among Plusmo’s 20,000 widgets — yeah, that’s right: 20,000! — and they just show up on your phone. (You can also choose widgets using just the phone.) You can pick stuff like Dilbert cartoons; a cheap-gas locator; games galore; video sites like YouTube; big-name news sources like CNN or BBC; many thousands of blogs; and a lot more widgets.
For most phones, these widgets can update themselves all at once. Later, when you’ve got some time to kill or need some information, the information is already there.
It takes you about three minutes of using Plusmo to realize that getting content and using widgets like this is far superior to “browsing” on a cell phone.
Best of all, Plusmo works on the major “smart phones” — and most “dumb” phones, too.
And if you’re an iPhone user, you’re in luck, too. Plusmo announced just yesterday a sweet new service for iPhone. The icons even look like they were designed by Apple.
It’s time to stop wasting your time slogging from site to site on your cell phone’s browser, and embrace the new widget movement.
Plusmo’s 20,000 widgets give you power, control, speed, visual appeal — even if you’re using an iPhone!