Don't get me wrong, I love the iPhone and its App Store juggernaut, it's just sometimes it seems that people have forgotten all about the iPhone app's father: the Dashboard widget.
First introduced in Mac OS X Tiger in 2005, widgets changed the way people quickly accessed simple information on their Mac. And though Apple did not create the concept of a widget, it did present them in the best way.
With the press of a button I had access to my portfolio, my Yahoo! news, my local weather, calculators for everything, translators, you name it. Widgets were small, simple, and beautiful. They performed one function and did it exceedingly well. Widget ports created half of the first apps ported to the iPhone (think the Weather app, Calculator app, Clock app, and Stocks app).
So in honor of the widget being partially responsible for the origins of iPhone apps, I'd like to present you with my four favorite ones. I hope you'll list your favorite widgets in the comments section too.
1. TimeScroller. I've used this widget for years. TimeScroller is a utility for quickly finding a suitable time for an overseas phone call or conference, or simply just to check if now is a good time to call. Given that I live overseas and have family and friends all over the world, this widget has been invaluable. Unsurprisingly, its also become an iPhone app. [iTunes link]
2. iCal Events. It's a widget that shows you your upcoming iCal events in a quick, simple interface. You can set it to see all your events from any calendar for one day to two weeks in advance. There's no iPhone app of this widget, but Apple would be smart to add this functionality into a new iPhone OS homescreen.
3. App Update is a free Dashboard Widget that can automatically check for updates to your installed software. It searches Apple's Downloads site, MacUpdate and Version Tracker. I've used this widget for years. It saves you time from checking the sites for updates manually. Get this widget and you're always assured to be running the latest version of your Mac applications.
4. Widget Update is a free Dashboard Widget that can automatically check for updates to the all the other widgets that you have installed. It's made by the same guys who do App Update. Again, this ensures that all your widgets are always the latest version.
So, those are four of my favorites. There's lots of them out there. Be sure to tell us your faves in the comments!