Web Services Find a New Home: Tiger's Dashboard

I’ve been toying with the realization of what this means over the past few days – ever since I upgraded to Tiger, actually. I’ve also searched around the Web for articles, but I haven’t found any, which begs the question: Has no one yet realized what’s happening here, or is everyone so entrenched in the Windows vs. Linux discussions that this is completely escaping the radar of the Web development community?

Mac OS X 10.4 (known as “Tiger” to the Mac world) is pioneering a revolution. This revolution is not about hardware, nor is it particularly about software – it’s about the Web and its future. I see a great potential in what is going on here, a change in the way things are done and a true move towards that legendary and elusive “Information Superhighway.” Microsoft has long sought to achieve this by further integrating their browser into the OS, but I think the folks at Apple have truely made the first real move. And what move is that? Simply put, they have brought the Web platform to the desktop.

Indeed, now is the time to do so. With more people accessing broadband connections than ever before, it is the perfect season to bring the Web to the desktop, and Apple has done just that with the introduction of the Dashboard. The Dashboard is Apple’s newest and possibly most exciting feature in their Mac OS X operating system. Sure, Tiger comes with the flexibility of the workflow Automator and the power of the Spotlight system search engine, but Apple has truly given Web services a new home with Dashboard.

Now, Web services can run from their native platform, the Web, but be truly integrated as a desktop application, or widget, in this case. News, stocks, weather, comics, package tracking, e-mail, maps and directions, and more can all be accessed through the Dashboard. No longer does one need to pull up another browser window and click through a list of bookmarks to access this information. It’s all right there on the Dashboard.

This doesn’t feel like the Web; rather, it’s the new Web. None of the information accessed is stored on the computer, yet these Dashboard widgets provide a gateway to volumes upon volumes of information that is constantly being updated. We knew the Web would become a major platform one day, but now that day has been realized and the innovation can only progress. Tiger’s Dashboard is the thin client to that platform.