With Valve's upcoming systems and the various "Steam Machine" models on the horizon, the road to becoming a PC gamer is quickly becoming a clear path unmuddied by confusing hardware or frustrating setups. Now, Piixl wants to get in on the action with its new Jetpack PC, which seeks to offer a different sort of convenience: the kind you don't even have to see.
Just last week, I showed you a batch of add-ons for, er, a Firefox add-on called Jetpack. With these, you'd be able to tap into the raw power of HTML and CSS-based extensions to add new functionality to your browser without needing a reboot whatsoever--just one of the many features provided by this new class of add-ons.
Well, in case that wasn't for you, I've gone out and searched for a way to duplicate the effects of some of these Jetpack add-ons using normal Firefox extensions. And this is an important point. Although nice to install and configure, many of said Jetpack extensions just felt a touch incomplete, slow, or otherwise non-functioning depending on the circumstances. And that's expected. Jetpack, after all, is a relatively new tool to the Firefox arsenal. Developers surely have a few bugs and eccentricities to work out.
That said, one of the more useful Jetpack applications granted a user the ability to load browser tabs into a live sidebar, giving you the opportunity to see the exact contents of what you wanted to click on prior to doing so. Tab Sidebar is the simple Firefox extension that duplicates this process sans Jetpack, and it's worth your while to install.
Mozilla just launched the official gallery for this new framework last week. As you might expect, there aren't a ton of browser add-ons to play with. However, I'm going to take a look at five of the more innovative, interesting, and downright install-worthy of the Jetpack add-ons that are currently available in this week's freeware roundup. And remember--you can install and uninstall these add-ons without mucking up your browser session whatsoever, so feel free to be a Firefox Rocketeer and grab as many as you want to try out!
The labs team at Mozilla has been hard at work on Jetpack 0.2, and is actively looking for volunteers to help test out, and give feedback on the new experimental UI. For those who haven’t been following its development, Jetpack allows users to create custom sidebar applications. These can range from something as simple as a Twitter stream, to a fully functional media player that will allow you to view flash videos while still surfing the web in the same tab.
According to Jetpack designer Aza Raskin “Jetpack is two things at once: it is a platform for experimentation and it is also a solid set of APIs that anyone to easily build new Firefox features”. It’s pretty clear that the web browser, like most modern operating systems is a mature platform, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd. Mozilla is likely hoping that if Jetpack takes off (pardon the pun), it will be easier to break away from the pack in the future.
Users wishing to get involved in Jetpack’s development are encouraged to install the add-on, report bugs, or even just hop into the discussion groups to leave feedback. Hit the jump to check out a video of Jetpack in action, and make sure to leave your experiences in the comments if you decide to give it a try!
Mozilla announced it will start giving away Jetpacks to users, but you can't use them to fly around your neighborhood or to stir up general mayhem. So what exactly can you do with it?
Oh. Well that's cool too, we suppose. Apparently, Jetpack will be the tool for building the next generation of add-ons, and according to Mozilla, they can be written "in under a dozen lines of code." But it's not just developers who should be excited.
"More importantly, from a user-perspective, Jetpack will allow new features to be added to the browser without a restart co compatibility issues, resulting in little to no disruption to the online experience," Mozilla added.