I’ve never really used sidebars that pull in information from a bunch of different sources, like the one available with Google’s Desktop Search.
Perhaps if a sidebar showed the right information, I might be tempted – Twitter and Facebook updates, new comments on your blog, search alerts on topics of your choice, and others. I’m sure I could come up with a big list of things that would make me tempted to run a sidebar.
I did come across a series of patent applications from Yahoo, which describes a sidebar that appears to focus primarily upon providing alerts for emails, updates from community networks and other information sources.
All of these documents were filed in 2006, and published this past week. It’s difficult to tell if what they describe is the sidebar that Yahoo offers to AT&T users, or something more than that.
From reading through the patent applications, it appears that they would only work with Yahoo services, such as Yahoo! 360, and Flickr, which are mentioned in the documents. Email, instant messaging, search engine alerts, and music services are also referred to generically.
No mention of MyBlogLog, del.icio.us, or upcoming.org in the patent applications. I could imagine a number of ways to incorporate information from those services into a sidebar, but I’m not sure that I could envision Yahoo offering them.
The likelihood that Yahoo would also make modules available for third party applications like Twitter also seem unlikely, yet it would be quite interesting if they did.
Here are the patent applications, and the abstracts that accompany them:
Members of Internet community websites, such as for example, social networking sites, photo sharing sites, review site, and other community sites, regularly make updates to the websites. Therefore a member of those sites is constantly checking those sites for new updates. an application module of a sidebar provides an indicator, such as, for example, a new item in the application module, to the sidebar user when an update is made to a community website by another member of the site.
Some application modules of a sidebar comprise a list of items. For example, an email module comprises message items while a photo slideshow does not comprise items. In known sidebars, the number of items in an application module display area is not discrete. For example, in an email module the last item in the list can be partially displayed. application modules that comprise items are forced to display a whole number of menu items. When a user resizes an application module, the application module will “snap” to fully include or fully exclude an item as opposed to displaying a partial item. A whole item display format can also be implemented in an application module’s slidesheet.
Typical sidebars comprise a plurality of application modules stacked in a vertical column. Thus, each application module has a limited amount of space to display useful information to the user. the application module of a sidebar can exist in one of a plurality of display states comprising, a closed state, which displays a title and a button to change states, a full open state, which displays a complete list of information associated with the application module and a preferred open state, which displays a subset of the information associated with the application module. The subset of information is selected based on instruction that can be predefined by a sidebar user and/or a sidebar provider.
Email functions, such as, for example, reply, reply to all, forward, delete, mark as unread, and mark as spam are made accessible to a user through a browser independent sidebar. email messages stored by an email service provider comprise a first identifier used by a first email retrieval client and a second identifier used by the sidebar. a protocol used by the sidebar to retrieve messages is augmented to comprise the first identifier, so that the sidebar can use email functions, such as, for example, mark as spam, that identify messages using the first identifier.
The Internet comprises a wealth of information that is regularly shared amongst its users. information sharing buttons are provided to a user at the bottom of a slidesheet of a sidebar. Thus, if the user sees information that they are interested in, they can easily share the information with another Internet user. a plurality of information sharing buttons are displayed in a slidesheet, so that the user can choose from more than one communication application to share the information.
A sidebar can be used to display images stored on a local computer and/or retrived from the Internet. a slidesheet of a photo application module of a sidebar provides a sidebar user with a search field, so that the user can search an Internet photo sharing website for photos to display in their sidebar. If the user likes the results of the search, the user can select a subscription button to add the photos to their list of photos displayed in the sidebar.
Sidebars group a plurality of Internet and other services in one easily accessible location on the desktop. a user’s sidebar preferences, such as, for example, the types of applications modules that populate their sidebar are stored by an Internet content provider on a network server. A user can access their personal sidebar preferences from any computer with an Internet connection. In addition, application module information loaded into the application modules is also stored on a server, thus changes made in a sidebar are reflected in their “full service” counterpart applications.
What kinds of applications or modules would you like to see in a sidebar? What would tempt you to install one on your computer?