I’ve been playing with Mozilla’s new free Ubiquity plugin for Firefox and it’s fab. It basically provides instant access to a whole bunch of web applications and other useful tools via a really easy to use command line interface. Now don’t get scared, it’s really really easy to use and incredibly flexible.
To access the proglet you hit CTRL key and spacebar together, and up pops a small box waiting for your instructions. There are 50 commands in existence right now, but it’s trivial for people to create new ones, so expect this number to rise exponentially over time. What can you do with it?
Well for one, if I’m on a foreign web site and I want to translate something, I can just highlight the words, fire up Ubiquity and type tr, hit the enter key and it instantly inserts the translation it thinks you need into the page directly. No really. Awesome.
You can specify languages etc etc, but that’s just the immediate version of the translate command. There are commands for creating and sending emails from Gmail instantly (other email services to come), converting stuff, doing search, asking questions (e.g. what is the capital of …?) and even twittering.
One favourite is the ability to fire up your Gmail client and then embed a map in the message simply by typing map into the Ubiquity box (u-box?) and clicking on the ‘insert in page’ link. Fab. OK, so it’s Google mail only again, but fab.
This is one of those deceptively simple and yet game changing technologies that could really power the web browser to another dimension if it takes off. The accessing of information and services from your browser just got a whole lot easier, and more importantly, fast. Here’s a tutorial, now go download and play with it. Really.
Today we’re announcing the launch of Ubiquity, a Mozilla Labs experiment into connecting the Web with language in an attempt to find new user interfaces that could make it possible for everyone to do common Web tasks more quickly and easily.