Nokia's S60 Widgets were launched at CTIA 2007 but until recently it was hard to find many actual Widgets to install. That's not a problem anymore as Nokia has created a Widget Library on the mobile web with over 1000 Widgets to choose from.
"Widget" is such confusingly generic name. The word is just so overloaded with different meanings. There are desktop widgets and browser widgets for PCs, J2ME based mobile widgets, GUI Widgets in various development tools and probably a few other kinds of Widgets I've haven't heard of.
If you have a compatible handset, head over to Widgets Library at widsets.mobi/library The library's home screen (top image) has a carousel-like display of five featured widgets at the top and a list of categories containing the rest of the Widgets. Each category has it's own featured Widgets too. I installed quite a few of the widgets and my advice is to stick with the featured Widgets, at least at first as they really are the best. My favorite is the MOSH Widget (2nd image). MOSH is Nokia's mobile social content sharing site and the widget is an easy to use catalog of the most downloaded audio, image, video and game files on MOSH along with a search engine that makes it easy to find any game, application and video on the MOSH mobile site. The MOSH widget is what Nokia Download should be, a comprehensive catalog of mobile content. Nokia doesn't promote MOSH very much, I suspect some of their carrier customers are pretty upset about it because it's an end run around their download portals. I can't imagine commercial game publishers are too happy either as there is a lot of pirated commercial content particularly in the Game category. That doesn't really bother me but I'm surprised that Nokia doesn't do a better job of policing uploaded content for the sake of their corporate image. But MOSH works and has just about everything you could possibly want for your phone, so if I'm looking for a game or application MOSH is the first place I go. It's the closest thing Nokia has to to the iPhone App store and it's all free. This Widget makes MOSH even easier to use.
The WeatherBug Widget (bottom) is also nice, so nice that I've added it to my Active Standby shortcuts. It displays a three day forecast, weather map and live camera for your selected location. Plus it's really an attractive design visually. I've tried quite a few of the non-featured widgets and I wasn't too impressed with any of them. Except for the games they were all basically single feed RSS readers that show headlines from one news site or blog. Clicking a headline launches the browser and loads a page from the site. I'd rather use a real RSS reader like Bloglines Mobile. But Weather Bug and MOSH show the potential of the platform. I'm sure we will see better and better widgets as time goes on.
Looking at the Widgets Library as a mobile website it generally works pretty well. You can search for titles and filter the listings by category and language. There is one aspect of the site I really hate though, Nokia has broken the browser back button! No matter how deep you drill down into the site, a single press of the back button takes you to the Widsets.mobi homepage! Not even the library front page but all the way up to the top level. What's up with that? Their are links to the Library Home and Search box at the top of each page but no way to just go back one page with makes browsing the library more cumbersome than it should be.
Other mobile Ajax Widget platforms that are similar to S60 Widgets include Opera, Netfront and Motorola's' WebUI Widgets. All four mobile AJAX Widget platforms claim adherence to the W3C Widget 1.0 Draft Spec so it should be relatively easy to port a Widget from one platform to another. There isn't yet true compatibility across platforms, you can't install a Nokia Widget on Windows Mobile phone running Opera or Netfront because of differences in packaging and proprietary extensions and because the W3C draft is incomplete. At yesterday's Motorola MotoDev Workshop at LinuxWorld, one of the Motorola representatives told me that Motorola and Nokia are working to make their widgets compatible with each other. The W3C is also slowly creating a standard for mobile widget compatibility across a platforms. When this happens Ajax Widgets will be a viable alternative to Java ME and the mobile web as a platform for cross-platform mobile applications.
Mobile Link: widsets.mobi/library
Ratings: Content: Usability: