App Review: Glimpse [for Touchpad] | webOS Nation
 
 

App Review: Glimpse [for Touchpad] 28

by Adam Marks Sat, 30 Jul 2011 5:56 pm EDT

We all know that the webOS and the TouchPad are the kings of multitasking when it comes to tablets, but you can now take that one step even further by purchasing Glimpse by Inglorious Apps. Although it's a hefty $5 price tag as compared to most other apps that are typically less than half that price, Glimpse is very much worth it. Just like webOS itself, Glimpse takes multitasking to the next level, but you really have to use it to appreciate the kind of power that it brings along.

So what exactly is Glimpse? At the most basic level, it's an app that splits the screen in up to three sections that allows you to essentially run different mini-apps within each frame. The mini-apps are referred to as widgets, but don't get this confused with the types of widgets that you may see on other mobile operating systems. These are interactive and customizable mini-apps that can be as fully-featured as a web browser or twitter client, or as simple as a post-it note or drawing app to doodle on. And to be clear, third-party apps or even webOS stock apps do not run within Glimpse, as it only supports the widgets that are packaged along with it.

When you first load up Glimpse, you will see 3 frames. There are two smaller frames on the top- and bottom-left, and a much larger frame on the right side that takes up about two-thirds of the screen. In the Application Dropdown menu on the top-left of the screen, you can customize your "views" by de-selecting any or all of the frames and the screen will adjust accordingly. For example, if you deselect "Bottom Left" then the "Top Left" will expand to fill up the entire left-side of the screen. You can also take advantage of the sliding panes functionality of webOS 3.0 to turn the "Right" pane into a full-screen view at any time on the fly. Finally, at the bottom of each pane, you will see the name of the currently active widget along with a dropdown arrow. Tap on the name or arrow to bring up a list of widgets that you can select. As of right now, there are 13* widgets available, including Calculator, Calendar, Converter, Doodle (drawing) pad, Notepad, RSS, Short Cuts (mini app-launcher), Stop Watch, Tasks, Twitter, Weather, Web, and YouTube.

There are so many use cases for how to use Glimpse that there will be no way that we can cover all of them in the review, but you can easily find yourself spending an hour on your TouchPad and never needing to leave Glimpse. While the web browser may not have all the bells and whistles of the stock browser, it comes close, as it has the functionality to share pages, view your browsing history and save bookmarks. But remember that since the web widget within Glimpse is its own stand-alone "app", your history and bookmarks are not integrated with those from the stock browser although you can "Open in Browser" any page you are viewing to launch the page in its own web browser card. While browsing the web, you can also have a Twitter widget running to keep up with your tweets while the RSS widget keeps you informed of the news. Unfortunately, the RSS feed does not integrate with your Google Reader feeds (at least not yet), but it does come with a some predefined feeds, including Podcast feeds so you can listen to the PreCentral Palmcast right from within Glimpse!

Then, let's say you get a phone call and you need to jot down a quick note. You change your RSS widget to the Notepad that essentially gives you a post-it to write down some quick text (which you can then delete, tweet or email as needed). You realize that you then need to add that to your calendar so you copy the text on the notepad and change the twitter widget to the Calendar. As a reminder, the calendar is not the same as opening the calendar app on your TouchPad. This will just show you a generic monthly calendar view without any of your calendar entries shown (that's still a webOS system/security limitation), but tapping on a given day within the calendar will give you the option to create a new calendar entry (in a new card) for that day. Once done, you go back to Glimpse, change the Calendar and Notepad widgets back to Twitter and RSS and you continue right where you left off.

Even though we may refer to some of these widgets as "mini-apps", some like Twitter, Tasks or Converter can hold their own as compared to some full apps in the catalog. For example, the Twitter widget provides you with multiple views for your time, @ mentions, sent and received DMs, search, your profile and favorites, and even supports multiple accounts. That means that you can have 3 different twitter widgets running for three different accounts, all at the same time within the single Glimpse app. Within twitter, tapping a tweet gives you a slew of typical twitter options, while tapping a link will give you a pop-up to view that link in the app, in the browser, or just copy the URL, and tapping a username will give you a pop-up with their profile and some action buttons.

 

To touch on some of other widgets, you have a calculator, stopwatch and weather widget for when you may need quick access for those types of apps, a doodle pad to draw a quick picture, and a YouTube widget that will allow you to search and play videos right in the frame of the app. Lastly, you have a shortcuts widget that will allow you to create a mini app launcher for any app you have on your TouchPad. It comes with four shortcuts preinstalled for Email, Messaging, Music and Browser, but you can add or remove any others.

Glimpse also takes advantage of webOS notifications for your Twitter accounts and allows you to set the refresh frequency for the RSS, Weather and Twitter widgets. To modify these settings, access the Application Dropdown menu from the top-left of the screen and select Preferences. From the Preferences screen, you also have the ability to hide any of the widgets from showing within the app. So if you have no plans to ever use Tasks you can just toggle that to Off and you will never see it again. Glimpse even has Just Type integration, too. If you activate Glimpse as a Just Type search option, you can start a Just Type action with a "tweet/", "youtube/", or "web/" prefix to load up Glimpse directly to that action. For example, to load up precentral.net within the web widget of Glimpse, just type "web/precentral.net" and tap the Glimpse option.

The more you play with Glimpse, the more little features and you will find. For example, each Notepad widget acts independently, so you can keep up to 3 different notes active at once. You will find that the features of some widgets may be different depending on what frame it's loaded in. The Calculator widget, for example, has just your most basic features while in the top- or bottom-left frames, but adds additional advanced functions in the larger right frame.

As you can imagine, your specific usage of Glimpse could differ from day-to-day or even minute-to-minute. The 13 widgets Glimpse already has is worth the $5 price tag, but Inglorious Apps is hard at work adding more plus as adding additional functionality to the existing widgets. He is taking requests if you have any, and I would personally love to see a neato! widget added. But in the meantime, I was able to actually bookmark my neato! homepage in Glimpse's web widget and turned "receiving" on to create a pseudo-neato! widget. Just use your phone's "send to computer" functionality to send it directly to the touchpad! I can't wait to see what else Inglorious Apps adds to Glimpse, but will definitely be able to keep myself occupied just trying to figure out everything it can already do.

* Technically, there are actually 14 widgets availale. If you have Pix, also by Inglorious Apps, installed on your TouchPad, there is a Pix widget that you also have access to.

28 Comments

IMO this app is weak, incomplete, should be a free beta at this point. the only widget worth it in this app is the twitter widget. everything else is as barebones as it gets. Could be great when its done but right now it is nothing more than a twitter client. And i am hoping the Graphite for webOs comes out soon.

How so is it weak? From what I can tell, this is one of the most original apps I've seen on any mobile platform for truly being able to multitask quickly on a tablet. Any limitations within the app are mostly because of HP and webOS. The developer can't integrate the apps already downloaded by TP owners due to this limitation; otherwise Glimpse would be damn near unstoppable.

+1. I use it constantly. It's a little bit of everything. He's evolving it. Start small, grow big, move like an iceberg.

Developer, We want Notes HD and Glimpse widget so hope you're working on it.

other than the twitter widget none of the other widgets do anything. The browser doesnt support cache so you cant go on facebook. There is no facebook widget. The calendar widget doesnt work with webos caledendar. and it doesnt synergize with anything else on the touchpad. rss feeds you have to add all manually and then they dont even open in the app. it just doesnt feel finished to me

Widgets? Hello, Android?

I hope this app becomes something where one can use webOS stock apps within it, then it would be even more fun. Maybe have a version available in homebrew

I agree 100%, it would be amazing for there to be a Glimpse API so we can put other apps into this one, homebrew or native.

One thing I find amazing in the webOS world is the complaining of spending $5.00 for one app. I don't have a TouchPad just yet, but from what I've seen/read about Glimpse, I'd be happy to pay $5.00 for it! People need to start realizing if you want bigger name developers/companies to develop something for webOS, you need to be willing to pay for it! It's been just over the two month mark for me w/ webOS. In that time, I've bought over $300 worth of software. I didn't need a lot of the apps I bought, but they were nice to have on each phone I use. Take a moment to think about that the next time you're standing in line @ Starbucks. Sorry Adam, other than that slight complaint, nice review. :)

But Inglorious Apps isn't one of those bigger name developers/companies...

How many apps have they made for webOS? How responsive support wise? I don't know the developer. I don't owe them anything, but I have bought their products & I see how responsive they are on twitter. To me, that says a lot about the developer(s), big or small. It's also one of the reasons why I've enjoyed using webOS the last few months. I'm also a huge Android user/kernel hacker. I love android, but sometimes the "drama" in the community is what turns people away. Take care.

Steve

But supporting smaller developers doesn't automatically attract the bigger names, and that was your argument.

Supporting developers big/small is what people need to do. If you come from the android world, there's one thing you know about 'me' is I personally can't stand the "please donate to me/buy me a device so I can 'dev' on it BS." I can't stand the 'wannabe' developers. I've never & will never ask for $$ for something I "do" for "fun." I do think people should support those like Cyanogenmod, or here in the webOS world, webos-internals & preware! I wasn't trolling when I made my original statement. I'm not trying to compare android/webOS either. Just making a blanket statement, support those making "quality" apps in the market, webOS or android! Take care.

Steve

You're just rambling now.

It does attract them. If a company sees a lot of opportunity for investment, they'll bite. If you don't support your smaller developers, the opportunity looks a lot less interesting.

+1 Exactly! :)

This app is awesome. granted its still a little rough at times and could use more widgets but its the best for one thing

SIDE BY SIDE YOUTUBE REMAKE COMPARISONS

I run 2 youtube videos, one original, and then the remake side by side. Loving every minute of its. Its really good too for a room full of wasted people.

Here ill lead by example

Take glimpes, change the left hand side 2 widgets to youtube.

enter in this url into the top one
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sITPDo1eGM

enter this url into the bottom one
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCJozCGXsms

lose your mind!!!!

heres the real thing with all these apps. apples base OS stinks, so the cool app is the only thing to lure you in. But i know people who could build an entire website in notepad, so really its all about how you use the app. not about cool features and nifty stuff that iOS does that yours doesn't.

I can rebuild room in notepad, i don't need fancy shmancy.

That being said, updates to glimpse
1. more widgets
2. ability to adjust pane sizes and amount of panes.. 8 would be awesome!!!!
3. remember your place upon launch
4. give ability to play videos, mp3s as well. it can be a jack of all trades media machine!

If you love widgets so much, why not get a Galaxy Tab where they're baked right in, with a lot more widgets than just the 12 this app comes with?

I love how the people touting this as the next level of multitasking also boast about webOS having better multitasking than Android, when this is doing what Android has been doing for a long time...

And then the same people complain about the Playbook copying webOS multitasking...

Hypocrisy much?

because android is fugly and i don't want a brick where my battery dies in 3 hours. i prefer the veer where my battery lasts 2 days on a single charge.

But this app is for Touchpad, not Veer...

I don't know why you were downranked, people on this site are getting more and more immature. But to answer your question, I personally don't see Glimpse as a widget app. I guess it's easier to call it that because there are is no 3rd party app functionality built in.

On android, I've never been able to have a bunch of widgets open at the same time running video concurrently or being able to copy & paste info from one to the other without. Doing something like that between apps means having to tap the "multi-tasking" button in Honeycomb, go into another app and then follow the steps to go back to the first app. Glimpse handles this type of behavior a lot of better then webOS 3.0 or Honeycomb.

I like that this is an app so people who think they need this functionality can download it and everyone else can go on their merry way using the TP as it was designed to be used by its manufacturer.

>>>At the most basic level, it's an app that splits the screen in up to three sections that allows you to essentially run different mini-apps within each frame. The mini-apps are referred to as widgets, but don't get this confused with the types of widgets that you may see on other mobile operating systems. These are interactive and customizable mini-apps that can be as fully-featured as a web browser or twitter client, or as simple as a post-it note or drawing app to doodle on.

You know what they say about lipstick on a pig...

+1

Props to the developer etc but I don't see the logic in essentially using an app to replace the webOS Card View and launcher - especially when the mini apps themselves are not as fully featured as standalone apps providing the same functionality.

Why shouldn't I just open the webOS calculator, Carbon Twitter app etc etc and switch between the cards? Same with the browser, if the Glimpse browser isn't as fully featured as the webOS one then what's the point - same with having a Calendar that doesn't integrate with your webOS calendar entries (I know, only the webOS calendar has access to those entries but the point still stands).

Like rsanchez1 says, if you want multitasked widgets baked in you get an Android tablet. Isn't the Card View the main webOS differentiator - why avoid it?

Unfortunately, apps like this demonstrate, and are limited by, the "rough design edges" of Enyo. It appears panels are limited to one orientation: opening left-to-right, closing right-to-left. What about the other directions? Glimpse allows up to 2 windows on the left, but no more. No 2 windows for top, bottom, or right. I suspect this is a limitation of Enyo and not by choice of the Glimpse developer.

I'm pretty sure he could've chosen to put two windows on the top as well, or however he wants.

Really, Enyo should only be a limitation to a developer who doesn't know what they're doing. I don't think it was a limitation of Enyo, I think it was a design choice.

This app looks like a step backwards to me...

So, what are some examples of how people are using this? I don't use Twitter, or RSS feeds... in fact, I rarely even use my TP at all due to a lack of apps... which is why I'm looking for good ones to make it more useful.

What kinds of things will this allow me to do that I can't do without it?

I'll be offline pretty much any time I leave the house with my TP as well since there are very few hot spots in my area.

If you are curious, try it. I will