Do You Want Windows 7 to Act Like Your Smartphone?


If you have a Windows 7 phone, iPhone, Android device or other modern smartphone, you know all about the convenience of “apps.” Once used as a generic short form for “application,” the abbreviated term has come to have a more specific meaning: small, simple “mini” applications that can be invoked quickly and serve a limited, specific purpose. Many of these small apps are used as a more efficient and/or more user-friendly way to access web services such as Facebook or Twitter, and are optimized for the phone platform’s small screen and limited memory and processor resources.

In many cases, apps are more convenient to use than their full fledged counterparts. For example, even when I’m sitting at my computer, I reach for my phone when I want to enter the snack I just ate into the My Fitness Pal database. I could go to the web site and do it there, but it’s faster and simpler to do it on the phone app. Same thing for looking up the phone number of a frequently-called contact. I could do it in Outlook, but on the phone I have a Favorites app that puts those numbers just a touch or two away. Other reasons to reach for the phone include looking up stores or restaurants that are nearby, or using the calculator to solve a quick math problem.

What if you could smartphone-style apps on your computer, too? Well, now you can. A company called SweetLabs has come out with a platform for developing small apps to run on Windows 7, built with the same types of programming tools that are used to create smartphone apps (HTML5, JavaScript, CSS3). It’s called Pokki and they launched a beta this week with several ready-made apps that include Facebook, eBay, Gmail, Headlines, Wall Street Journal and more:

When you install the first app, you have to download and install Pokki itself, which may take a minute or two. The app then puts itself in your Windows 7 taskbar, next to the Start button (Pokki actually creates its own separate toolbar on the taskbar, which you can turn on and off like any toolbar by right clicking the taskbar and checking or unchecking “Pokki”). The toolbar icon provides info; for example, the Facebook app shows the number of new posts on the icon and it updates automatically after you connect. The apps are a little more limited than their smartphone counterparts in some ways. For example, the Facebook app shows only the most recent posts in your feed (I counted 25). If you want to see older posts and click the “More” button, it opens up Facebook in your web browser rather than displaying them in the app. And the Pokki apps are designed to be used with keyboard and mouse, rather than the touch screen for which most smartphone apps are made.

The existing Pokki apps are desktop apps that connect to the web to get content. Pokkis can also be standalone apps (like a calculator or other app that doesn’t need to get content from the web). They open in pop-up windows, which you can close by clicking the toolbar icon again.

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