Those who remember Pointcast and “push” technology will feel right at home with the many new Web-on-your-desktop technologies becoming popular these days. Widgets are coming into vogue, it seems. And now we have Google Sidebar.
These new apps mostly take advantage of RSS, which is actually “pull” technology. The end result is essentially the same.
Released tonight, Google Sidebar is a window that sits on your desktop and pulls in photos, stock quotes, blog content, email messages and more into a sidebar that sits permanently on your desktop. It’s not part of the browser, as are some other sidebar tools or plug-ins. (For widget fans, it’s kind of like a super widget.)
The sidebar comes bundled with the latest version of Google Desktop Search.
It comes preloaded with some RSS feeds, but users can customize it to suit their tastes. We played with it for a while on Friday. Our first observation is that it eats up a lot of screen space, more than we’re typically comfortable with. That would be OK if you could push it into the background when you wanted to reclaim all your screen space. But you can’t; it’s always on top (though you can minimize it like other Windows applications, and you can set it to “auto-hide,” as noted in the comment below). It also seemed to slow down our computer somewhat, perhaps because Google Desktop Search was indexing our files. On the other hand, it’s handy to be able to see what’s new at a quick glance. And the scratch pad to jot notes is kinda cool.
Go play and decide for yourselves. Windows only, 2000 and above.