For a while now Google has been offering personalized homepage content with “gadgets” — little page add-ons that allow you to do specific tasks or get certain content. (I did a writeup on Google’s personalized pages back in April for Tech Talk.) Now Google has expanded these gadgets so that Web wranglers can put them on their own site’s pages.
Google’s announcement for the new feature is available here. The directory for gadgets that can be applied to non-Google Web pages is at http://www.google.com/press/annc/synd_gadgets.html .
Now, when Google’s home/portal page concept initially came out, I thought it was lame. There wasn’t a lot available, and what was available wasn’t impressive. I was really afraid that what I’d see on the non-Google Web gadgets page would be a bunch of warmed-over RSS feeds and other basic, non-dynamic content.
I’m happy to report I was totally wrong. While the “Google Gadgets For Your Webpage” listings do support some add-ons that you could easily recognize from the portal heyday of the late 90s (like a daily horoscope) there’s tons of fun dynamic content as well. Like Bejeweled. Like Pac-Man. Like Google converters and weather radars, traffic updates, and so help me, a gadget to figure out songs by tapping the melody on your spacebar. (Worked for “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “The ABCs”, failed miserably on “Margaritaville.”)
Click on the thumbnail of the gadget to get more information about it (most of them are self-explanatory) and then click on “Add to Your Webpage” to get a preview version of what the gadget would look like on your Web page (in some cases you might get an error; in that case be sure you have the latest version of Flash.) You can do a little tweaking to the gadgets, like changing the box size and border color.
I found a really fascinating Gadget clock here. I watched it operate, and then decided to leave the size and border color alone. I clicked on “Get the Code” and got a single line to add to this entry, which hopefully will mean a clock at the bottom of this entry.
Syndicated content, like weather and clock “stickers” and buttons — of course aren’t anything new. But I was really impressed with the breadth of content that these new gadgets offer. Furthermore, with the Google Gadget API, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of these.