As I’m working more with Vista, I’m finding little things here and there that just puzzle me. As a follow-up to my Vista and Ink post, here is another example of what would seem like an obvious Ink integration opportunity.
Windows Vista has this wonderful new feature called Windows Sidebar. The Sidebar appears on the right side of the desktop, and can also be displayed on top of any active window in transparent mode by simply double clicking the icon in the System Tray. It displays what Microsoft calls Gadgets – a clock, RSS reader, a slide show, a Feed Watcher, Stock Ticker, etc. One of the built-in Gadgets is Notes. They look just like little Post-It notes that you can jot quick reminders on. At first glance, they look just like Sticky Notes, only a bit smaller to fit within the Sidebar rectangle. However, they don’t support direct ink input. You have to use the TIP.
To me, the Notes in the Sidebar is more useful than Sticky Notes because I have really quick access to the Notes by just activitating the Sidebar with one click, and I never have to worry about accidentally closing it or restarting it. They are always there. However, the functionality in Sticky Notes is better for Tablet PC users because it supports Ink and Audio notes, but it does not support Text input. Ink can be copied from Sticky Notes into OneNote, Journal, etc. However, Sticky Notes cannot be added as a Gadget to the Sidebar.
You can see where I’m going with this – two simple quick note apps that aim to solve the same problem for all users – ability to take quick notes on the fly. However, the solution that Microsoft chose to include as a built-in gadget doesn’t support Ink. The solution that does support Ink is harder to get to and is prone to closing. Wouldn’t it make sense to combine the two applications into one and aim to solve the same basic need for all users, irregardless of what type of input they are using? I’m also curious as to why they would choose to offer a text only input solution for something like quick note taking. Isn’t that one of the main selling points of Tablet PCs – the ability to take quick notes on the fly? Why strip away functionality for Tablet PC users and immediately make them question “ Where is the Ink”?
This looks like a good opportunity for someone to develop a nice Ink Note Gadget for the Windows Sidebar.
On to other Gadgets, I checked out http://gallery.microsoft.com to view their other Gadgets. They feature Sudoku and Scibble. Sudoku doesn’t support Ink, but the boxes are so small, I think it would be a pain to write in anyway. Sudoku is easy to navigate with a pen, though. Scribble is a neat little drawing app that lets you draw on a chalkboard. It is a bit buggy, but you can’t do anything with the drawing. Might be cool to copy that drawing that paste it as Ink into OneNote or Journal.