Run multiwidget desktops with Amnesty Hypercube

Amnesty Hypercube lets you run a ton of widgets at once, using multiple widget desktops.

Amnesty Hypercube is a small application for Windows XP, Vista, and Mac OS X that will help you pull bits of Web content to use as widgets. These widgets can be brought up or dismissed ad hoc, or added to your desktop as a permanent fixture. Besides its cool name (second only to flux capacitor), the service is not so different from many existing widget platforms, like Yahoo Widgets, OS X's Dashboard, or the Windows Vista sidebar. Yet the company is taking a slightly different approach, one a little closer to Yourminis, which uses Adobe Integrated Runtime to run widgets on your desktop.

The application has a built-in directory of widget sites, which acts as a mini-Web browser to take you to places such as Finetune, last.fm, and eBay's eBay To Go widget maker. Once you've found embed code on a site's original page, copying the code to your clipboard will automatically turn it into a desktop widget. Of course, you could accomplish something similar using Mesa Dynamics' other tool--Amnesty Generator, which will convert all sorts of Web widget code into widget-friendly code for other platforms.

One nice feature on the Mac and Vista version is that you can "push" a Hypercube widget to OS X's dashboard or the Vista sidebar with two clicks. Also neat is its multiwidget desktop functionality (hence the cube name), which lets you organize your widgets on several virtual desktops. You can add more widgets and switch between them from the drop-down menu that installs itself on your system toolbar. It's a little bit like the upcoming Spaces feature in OS X Leopard, but not nearly as flashy.

The only real snag I ran into using the application was surfing through the widget directory. Since it's a miniaturized browser, pages are often cropped below their native size, unless you are using a wide-screen display or are running your computer at a high resolution. This means there's a lot more scrolling both up and down, as well as side to side, if you're on a laptop or small screen. I'd also like to see the service add a right-click contextual menu to let you create a widget from any embed code you run into while browsing on your regular browser. Currently, you have to copy and paste code into a preferences box on the application.

Mesa Dynamics is planning to add a few more features to the beta release, including sharable cubes (similar to the publicly shared page directories on single-page aggregators), cube customizations such as backgrounds and color schemes, and a tool to push a widget collection to Apple's iPhone.

Grab widgets from all over the Web and put them on your desktop. If you're a Mac or Vista user, you can also push widgets to Dashboard or the sidebar to use the native widget tools. CNET Networks

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About the author

Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.

 

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