June 15, 2008 |
The line between online and desktop applications seems to be blurring all the time. We want office apps online to share them, but we want to bring them back down to the desktop for offline use, never mind that's where the functionality started in the first place. We like Twitter and FriendFeed, but we want to be able to use an AIR app rather than a Web interface. Such is the best explanation I can come up with PodiPodi, a web add-on that Ben Galbraith at Ajaxian calls "Quicksilver for the Web."
For those unfamiliar with Quicksilver, it's a handy little Mac application that sits, waiting for you to do something. With a keybinding, it lets you launch apps, find frequently used documents, and use functions by typing in only a few characters after you enter the keybinding, allowing you to quickly open apps, frequently visited URLs, and documents without clicking through Finder.
PodiPodi does much the same thing once installed on a web site. Users can click on a box or hit Shift+Z to bring up the PodiPodi box, which lets them choose from several different commands in its current beta release. Users can search YouTube, Google, Google Images, Yahoo, and Flickr, perform a calculation, send the site to a friend, and send a comment to the site creator, as well as several other built-in commands. If you are familiar with Quicksilver or Humanized Enso (a similar program for Windows), it will probably feel very familiar, which gives it some excellent curb appeal.
The problem, however, is that PodiPodi is designed as a widget for your web site, and I can't think of a real use for that on individual sites. It might be nice to have on a blogging platform, for example, allowing you to quickly pull up YouTube content to place in your post, but the keybinding they designed means that you may, at some point, invoke it accidentally when trying to write an article about Zillow. Or Zoho. It also depends on each individual site owner to install, so if you are a user who happens to like it, you have to hope it's there on each site you visit.
Turning it into a browser plug-in probably would have been a better bet, which wouldn't rely on site owners to implement functionality. Allowing users to set their own keybinding would be nice as well, since I do use capital Zs fairly regularly. It's nifty, but when I can't see the point, especially when a desktop app already does something very similar, and I can't figure out how it would make money, it doesn't leave me with much confidence about its future.