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Jadoos offers a single sign-on widget

Silicon Valley company shows an iPhone-esque desktop widget at Demo 09 that makes it simple for users to log into many sites without having to remember many passwords.

PALM DESERT, Calif.--We've all heard of the promise of single sign-on, but to date, the concept has yet to make serious inroads. It's still mainly a concept with potential.

But the idea makes sense: giving users a way to log in to all the sites they use without having to have a different set of IDs and passwords for each. Since many Web users are busy and easily distracted by everything going on in our lives, only having to remember a single ID and password would be immensely valuable.

At Demo 09 here Tuesday, a Sunnyvale, Calif., company called Jadoos presented its approach to single sign-on, albeit one that is scaled down to apply to a discrete set of Web sites. But that approach, using a sort of "remote control" to handle log-ins for a series of sites strikes me as valuable, especially for heavy social network users.

Jadoos' service--which is currently in a closed beta period--is a widget that floats above the desktop on users' computers. It looks suspiciously like an iPhone, but gives users a simple and even elegant way to log in to the many sites they use, all with that single sign-on. It works, as I surmised from the company's demo, by having users add any sites they want to their account, entering their IDs and passwords, and then allowing those users to simply click on the site's icon on the widget and choose to log in.

The widget also provides access to a range of instant message clients, and allows users to manage their contact lists without having to run another piece of software, be it something like Trillian or IM services' own clients. As an adjunct to easy sign-on to various sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and so forth, it's a nice combination and a spare approach to handling the kinds of applications that heavy Internet users keep running in many different windows at all times.

It also offers a search window, and terms entered there run Google searches that then appear in a browser window.

The Jadoos widget adds one more feature, a rating system for Web sites and businesses. This could be valuable, but feels like a little bit of overkill. This, like the ratings system unveiled at Demo on Tuesday by Purewire, will only be useful if a critical mass of people participate.

But what is not overkill is Jadoos' decision to open up its platform to outside developers. That means its widget--designed to look like an iPhone--could begin to also resemble that device in terms of the many kinds of third-party apps that sit on top of it. Again, until the apps are created, there's no way to know how interesting they'll be, but it is a promising idea.