I collect Dashboard Widgets on my Mac. It’s a totally inadvertent exercise since I’m on record as not being too impressed with Widgets.
There’s a dozen or so Widgets that I use regularly; probably the same dozen you use regularly. Another dozen are quickly becoming indispensable because they’re so blasted convenient.
By my count, there are over 5,000 Dashboard Widgets for Mac users. I can get around two doze or so on my Mac’s screen, so it’s important to choose wisely.
Remarkably, there are well over 2,000 applications available for iPhone users on the iTunes Store’s App Store. I have a few dozen of those, too.
What’s the attraction of Dashboard Widgets for Mac uses, and their confined but capable cousins, Apps for the iPhone? Convenience.
In an age where bloatware rules, and applications can do literally everything we can imagine, Widgets and iPhone apps are often one trick ponies, promising to do one needful thing very well.
If you’ve browsed through Apple’s download section you’re aware of how many, though maybe not the specific number, Dashboard Widgets are available. The same holds true of the App Store in iTunes.
The vast majority of both Widgets and iPhone apps are rather useless one trick ponies; some downright stupid, some ultra buggy and perhaps dangerous to install on your Mac or iPhone, others of dubious value except to a select few—perhaps those who collect Widgets and free iPhone apps.
My collection is not intentional. My Mac is adorned with the standards that nearly every Mac user uses and needs. Stocks. Weather. iCal Events. Clock. Dictionary. Calculator. Weather radar is good.
After the basics, we get picky and begin selecting Dashboard Widgets (and their cousins from the App Store) more carefully, probably using one out of five that we download and try.
The top Dashboard Widget today is Time Map, which is a graphic view of the earth as darkness and light moves across the continents. Big whoop, right?
One of my favorites is iStatPro which simply monitors different aspects of my Mac, from memory to disk, CPU to network, even the temperature.
RadarInMotion is almost always on the Top 10 List, as it displays radar images from the Weather Channel. It’s priceless to me, but free to everyone else. Where is a similar application for the iPhone?
Sing That iTune shows up on the most popular list, too. Think of it as the place to get lyrics for whatever song is playing on your Mac’s iTunes at the moment. I admit to having that Widget on my Mac but I don’t sing along unless I’m at home. Alone.
While not as powerful or complex as desktop applications for Mac OS X, both Dashboard Widgets (numbering over 5,000) and iPhone Apps (numbering over 2,000) have come a long way in a short period of time.
My own research indicates that there are more commercial opportunities in developing and selling apps for the iPhone than developing and distributing Dashboard Widgets. The former often have price tags, though nominal, while the latter seldom have price tags.
Mac applications are often considered best of breed, and often are strikingly different and more usable than their Windows PC counterparts. Gadgets exist for Windows Vista. Yahoo Widgets are out there, too. So are thousands of applications for Windows Mobile and other cell phone operating systems.
Apple seems to have garnered all the available press and publicity for the iTunes App Store. The natural question from that us vs. them scenario is this, “Which platform has the best applications? Mac or Windows?”
Feel free to include Widgets and iPhone apps in the mix and share your reasons for the stance you take in the Comments section below.