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Sneak Peaks: Nokia's Phone Widgets, FreeWebs' New page builder

Sneak Peaks: Nokia's Phone Widgets, FreeWebs' New WYSIWIG page builder

Nokia's Craig Cumberland shows off a weather widget. Dorian Benkoil

At the WidgetCon conference in New York today, Nokia marketing executive Craig Cumberland privately showed us some not-yet-released widgets for Series 60 mobile phones.

Nokia announced in April that this phone was "widget-ready," and this fall the company plans to release fully functional widgets that will reside directly on the phone. With a little work, you can get widgets for your phone today, but you need the for-pay version of the Opera browser. You can also get some applications that are lighter versions of widgets, without all the functionality, at Widsets.

The widgets that Nokia promises are true HTML, allowing for AJAX and CSS, and perform in much the same way as Web widgets do. They're interactive, personalizable, forwardable to friends, and so on.

Cumberland (his hand and croissant pictured) showed three applications. The WeatherBug widget was much like one that you would download to your desktop. It allowed entry of a ZIP code, and reported temperature, precipitation and other weather facts, and also had animation and pictures. The Reuters widget returned RSS feeds in a branded and nice-looking shell, with some navigation. The Ben's Bargains widget showed bargains in the same way the BensBargains.net site does. And Cumberland said an Amazon widget was on the way.

Later in the day, FreeWebs, which hosted the conference, showed off a new version of its Web page creation software that's just being released in controlled Beta and that CEO Haroon Mokhtarzada said will be available to consumers by the end of the month. "No photos, please!" he shouted to the crowd of a few dozen. The application he demonstrated has a new WYSIWIG interface, showing a user what the page will look like, and allowing for pictures, widgets and other applications to be placed live and on the fly. It even allows resizing by a simple dragging procedure. No knowledge of HTML was needed to place things in specific spots, change column widths, add text in boxes, and so on.

"We have a firm belief that no one should ever have to see a line of HTML," Mokhtarzada said. Despite a few glitches during the demo, the product looks promising and could herald a new era in Web page creation for the average user.

Guest correspondent Dorian Benkoil is a senior consultant at Teeming Media and a former editor of CNET's small business section.