The concept of Web OS – having all your applications and data available on the web through the browser irrespective of the hardware and OS of the system you are using – and its requirement is understood for quite some time now. But there haven’t been any good implementations.
Recently I discovered Goowy. And I was amazed. Though it is still far from becoming a Web OS, they have done a pretty good job packaging the entire thing with an interesting user experience.
The entire website has been built in Flash. That explains the nifty animations sprinkled around the site. Here’s a screenshot
The applications available currently are –
- Email – you get a @goowy.com address with 2GB space.
- To-do lists
- RSS Reader
- Lots of Flash-based games
- Small applications like Stock ticker, weather monitor, Flickr viewer, Google Search etc.
The Mac-like application bar at the bottom of the website makes the intention of Goowy developers clear – it’s gonna be the web equivalent of a desktop OS.
Flash vs AJAX
The fact that folk at Goowy decided to use Flash instead of AJAX to provide the “rich internet application” experience seems to have paid up.
Goowy has almost bridged the gap between the UI of web and desktop applications. With Flash, creating animations is far easier – that’s the primary thing it is known for.
Things like accessing the right-click menu are not even possible in AJAX (yet?) (for example, in Goowy, you can right-click on an email and select the delete option from the menu that pops up – this isn’t easily doable through AJAX)
However, all this doesn’t come free of cost. The load time for Goowy is slightly on the higher side – all those nifty animations need higher bandwidth than what would have been required for a simpler AJAX implementation. There is a lag in entering text while composing an email, even on my super powerful workstation.
I’m sure the developers at Goowy are working full-steam to add new features to their wonderful app. There is so much for them to do right now.
Some features are already in the pipeline – they are just grayed out on the main page – like sharing files and instant messaging. I don’t know how Techcrunch got the screenshots of IM working in Goowy.
I’d like to see widgets for storing bookmarks. Also, some kinda post-it notes would be very useful.
But the most important feature would be to somehow allow third party developers to develop widgets/applications for their site. I’m not sure how they should be doing that but if they can get the attention of third party developers, the usability and acceptance of Goowy will increase a lot.
And yes, resizable windows for minis would be a nice improvement.
PS: Protopage is a good starting point for a software that could later expand into a full-fledged Web OS, but it seems to have constrained itself to be a Web Desktop only (with online bookmarks, personal notes and RSS Reader)