S60 Widgets Library

Widget LibraryNokia’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.

Nokia’s S60 Widgets are something else, a relatively new type of mobile Widgets, which for lack of a better term, I’ll call “mobile AJAX Widgets”.  They look like standalone applications and are launched from icons in the S60 Launcher just like native and Java applications. The ability to be run simply by clicking an icon is what distinguishes AJAX mobile Widgets differ from Java ME based widget platforms like Plusmo, WebWag and Nokia’s own Widsets. Each Widget is a small package of code created using the same technologies as web pages; HTML, JavaScript and CSS. In order for Widgets to work, the Nokia Web Runtime must be available in the phone’s firmware. Currently that means an N95, N82, N96, 5320 Xpress Music, 6210 Navigator, 6220 Classic or E90. For some of these phones specific firmware versions versions are required too.

MOSH WidgetIf 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.

WeatherBugThe 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: XXX__

Related: Mobile Site Directory – Technology/Mobile/Downloads

3 thoughts on “S60 Widgets Library

  1. Please note that the W3c spec just define for now the packaging format (in fact, the xml file describing the widget), but there is still a lot to do to reach interoperability….

  2. Okay so I’m on an E61i and have the Widsets app installed… There’s a different version of MOSH that I can use, but all I see is a list of topless celebrities — this can’t be right!

  3. Pingback: Nokia releases a S60 Widget Gallery with 1000+ Mobile Widgetized Web Apps | Widgets Lab

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