These days it seems like every company is after the start pages, web desktop, and—dare we say it just this once—"web OS" market, with everyone from Google, to Netvibes, and probably your next door neighbor, with something up their sleeves. Schmedley, in private alpha and beta since spring, is another start page that focuses on simplicity and a smooth experience. We took Schmedley for a spin, scored 500 invites for Ars Technica readers, and spoke with Dustin Caruso, one of Schmedley's cofounders.
Bringing a desktop UI approach to the start page, Schmedley offers the typical array of widgets—nay, "a suite of powerful web applications"—accessible via a bottom toolbar that looks and functions much like the Mac OS X Dock.
While many of these apps are garden variety tools for organizing to-dos, checking stocks, and reading RSS for now, the first thing that stands out is the fact that Schmedley pulls off this UI without the use of any Flash. "I've never been a Fan of flash as a way of creating applications," Caruso told Ars Technica. "but think it is great as a presentation layer."
Schmedley's appeal is arguably in the details. While you can create multiple pages, and drag and drop apps between them like most other start pages, most of Schmedley's apps share a similar UI that brings a strong aspect of uniformity and familiarity to the site. Some apps, like the search tool, aren't just springboards for launching a new tab in your browser. Instead, the search app expands to display results from both Google and Yahoo, side by side.
Another very nice touch is integration with the popular Meebo web-based chat app. Schmedley's Meebo app opens in its own page and integrates Meebo, offering all of its cross-platform communication and chat room features. This is done really well, and it definitely puts a useful feather in Schmedley's hat.
While Schmedly offers a basic level of customizability and app organization features, Caruso reminded us that it's still in a private beta right now, with a public beta coming on October 1. "We will follow-up with a November release that will feature rich page customization and publishing features," Caruso explained. "Our focus with that release will be that same simplicity, good looks and ease-of-use—applied to page creation for users—offering a product that's similar to what users are able to currently do on MySpace, but with some tighter design controls that will hopefully make it virtually impossible for someone to create an ugly webpage."
Soon, Schmedly hopes to also bring more integration with existing web productivity service, such as Remember the Milk for tasks, and the ability to compose a new Gmail message right from within Schmedley. Caruso stressed, though, "we DO NOT plan on creating another (our own) social network. It's really all about giving users a place to do whatever it is they want to do on the web—to create, or to make themselves more productive."
Indeed, besides some key integration right now with services like Meebo, Schmedley isn't bringing any revolutionary features to the table. But with a unique, polished start page UI and more integration on the way, it has strong potential to become a worthy competitor in this space.
If you'd like to try Schmedley out, follow this link to sign up for your own account. Only the first 500 Ars Technica readers will get in, so run, don't walk.Posted on