Joost Gets an API, Becomes Widget Platform

Joost just released version 0.12.0 of its P2P TV client this week. The new releases offers end users a bunch of bug fixes, but developers get a special treat: Joost has opened up its API and now makes it possible to develop third-party widgets that can be installed within the client.Joost Widget Manager

Joost users have had access to a few select widgets from within the client since the beginning. They can chat with each other, read RSS feeds, and watch the time go by with a simple clock widget. The new API will greatly enhance these capabilities and help to make Joost more social.  [digg=]

The Joost team soft-launched its API with a low-profile announcement in the product forums. The official API website is still password-protected, but the access code can be found within the announcement. The API site features a couple of sample widgets that can be installed through the widget manager, which itself has to be activated through the “Advanced Settings” entry in the widget menu. Somewhat complicated, but hey, this is why they call it beta.

The sample widgets itself aren’t too surprising, but they give us some ideas where things are going for Joost. There is a simple RSS reader that just displays headlines and short abstracts from the Joost blog, a Wikipedia reader and an alarm clock. A little more exciting is the “What’s Similar” widget that offers recommendations for clips similar to the one you are watching right now. Improve on this, and Joost could become the TV version of

There’s also a lot of potential in the Joostmarks widget. Right now it’s barely usable – you can’t read anything most of the time because someone apparently thought black fonts were a good choice for a TV experience. The widget does however make it possible to bookmark single scenes within a TV show or even a music video and jump right to that point the next time you use Joost . Make those bookmarks shareable, and you’re pretty close to the social tagging features that will eventually help platforms like Joost to truly revolutionize TV.

The good thing is that we don’t have to wait for Joost to develop this stuff on its own. Outside developers just need some basic knowledge in XML and Javascript to get started. All of the sample widgets are distributed with their source code under a BSD-like license, so you can incorporate that code as well. There are also some sample widgets that are more targeted towards developers, like an Engine Dump widget, but I had problems installing those.

The tutorials also mention some other bugs that still have to get ironed out. Let’s hope the Joost team gets to fix those things quickly, because there are a lot of exciting possibilities for widgets on Joost, and I can’t wait to see what third-party developers come up with.