Genieo – A Tiny Desktop App To Set Up An Automatic Personal Start Page

Genieo   Genieo   A Tiny Desktop App To Set Up An Automatic Personal Start PageWhat is it about personal start pages? Or call them personalized homepage services. They are all jostling for our eyeballs as soon as we wake up and switch on.

Take a look around and you will see personal start pages starting up with iGoogle or NetVibes. I remember in the early days of MakeUseOf, we had done a small feature on comparing the top startpages contenders. And just recently, 12 Awesome Homepages Readers Shared With Us.

How the web world has moved on since then (iGoogle wasn’t even born).


A lot of eyeballs rest on the start page. Just check out the 35 or so comments that have come in from our readers on Justin’s post on Why I Decided To Make Google My Home Page and Never Looked Back.

That’s a cross-section of the web giving their bytes worth on the importance (or lack of it) of start pages. One of the bytes was for a new kind of start page service that’s a bit different in the way it looks at the whole thing.

Genieo

Genieo is a browser personal start page for sure, but it takes the desktop route. It is a small application which installs on your PC and generates the first start page using your past browsing history and site preferences as a stepping stone.

Right here, you might be going “˜Uh oh!’ at the thought of a desktop application that goes through your browsing records. To address the first concern, Genieo is a very small installation at around 500KB. The second concern needs a more elaborate answer that’s best provided by the guys themselves at Genieo. They say that they care about our privacy and the only information they gather is of the non personal usage kind.

Genieo also automatically disables itself once you navigate to secure sites (this includes email) or online transaction sites of any kind. The one page privacy statement shouldn’t deter you, because Genieo follows the same general data collection that’s done by most services on the web.

With That Addressed, Let’s Start Genieo

  • Post install, Genieo takes about 15-20 minutes to gather the primary information about your browsing choices. Now that it has a map of our personal browsing habits, it automatically generates a start page in Firefox and Internet Explorer.
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  • Genieo peeks into our past to see the sites we like and the kind of content we read most often. To get a fair approximation on the start page, a rich browsing history contributes to Genieo’s accuracy. Even then, Genieo continuously learns and adapts from the way we browse and adjusts the personal start page display.
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  • Genieo is on auto-pilot, but hey it’s a start page after all and I would like to personalize it a bit. Here’s where we get into Genieo’s Settings to add or subtract our sources. Here’s where Genieo also falters a bit, because it doesn’t let us add a site or a feed manually. The only way seems to be to browse a site and hey-presto, make it appear on the start page. A simple “˜Add this site‘ would have helped greatly.
  • Genieo4   Genieo   A Tiny Desktop App To Set Up An Automatic Personal Start Page

  • To subtract sites or feeds is a lot easier. Although you cannot remove them completely from the favorites list, you can block it (or unblock it) from Settings. You can also remove an uninteresting item from the start page with a click.
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  • If notifications are enabled, Genieo lets you know about updates to the homepage using a small message on the right bottom corner. Genieo streams in real time updates of the news items it senses you might be interested in. If you find a news item worth sharing, it lets you share them straight from the start page.
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  • Genieo also applies the same algorithm of personalized news filtering to the updates in your Twitter account.
  • Genieo can be easily disabled from the status bar and uninstalled from Add Remove Programs.

Ending The Day With Genieo

Genieo is great for the guy who doesn’t have the patience to sit and manually configure a start page on his own. It is definitely for the guy with regular browsing habits. If you visit websites which are more or less of the same nature, then Genieo is the day launcher you have been looking for.

But web nomads who have diverse interests might find Genieo a bit frustrating because personal favorites can easily get lost in the clutter of the other sites visited as temporary stopovers.

Though, Twitter was conspicuous. I also couldn’t find the link to integrate Facebook on the start page. The same problem held true for bringing in some weather information on the start page.

But ultimately, it all comes down to the user choice ““ do you like to have more control over the start page, from the kind of display to the nature of the information? Or would you let things happen by themselves?

For the latter, Genieo is worth a place in the browser. It allows for setting up an easy, fast, and secure personal start page.

Let us know your preference.

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6 Comments -

ToddMichaelGreene

I tried Fav4 after reading Justin’s post you mentioned. Haven’t been as pleased as I’d expected. Will try this.

Dotan @Genieo

Saikat, thanks for the detailed review; I am glad you enjoy Genieo. We did aim to create exactly what you have described: personal zero-configuration start page.
Start page that will automatically follow shifts in your area of interest, a “Personal page” not “customized page”. We believe that the page should works for you and not the other way around :-).
I would like to add a little more information on two subjects:
Privacy: Genieo profile is build and stored locally on your PC, no user data is being sent to any server. We cannot misuse the user data since we do not have it. We cannot lose the data since we do not have it. No one can hack into our data store since we simple do not keep any users data records; all is stored on your PC. We do believe that is the true and only way to full privacy.
Adding feeds: You stated correctly that “…it doesn’t let us add a site or a feed manually”. True but, Genieo will register you automatically to feeds in site that you visit. In order to register to CNN feeds, just browse to http://www.cnn.com , by reading your (excellent) Genieo review my Genieo automatically registered me to makeuseof.com feed. The user does need to know what RSS feed is or to mange his list, Genieo will register for you, check if the feed is valuable (brings interesting items) and unregister when a feed is not valuable.

(Yet we do understand what power users may wish to modify the feed list themselves and will add better control of your feed list in the future)

-Dotan

Dotan @Genieo

Saikat, thanks for the detailed review; I am glad you enjoy Genieo. We did aim to create exactly what you have described: personal zero-configuration start page.
Start page that will automatically follow shifts in your area of interest, a “Personal page” not “customized page”. We believe that the page should works for you and not the other way around :-).
I would like to add a little more information on two subjects:
Privacy: Genieo profile is build and stored locally on your PC, no user data is being sent to any server. We cannot misuse the user data since we do not have it. We cannot lose the data since we do not have it. No one can hack into our data store since we simple do not keep any users data records; all is stored on your PC. We do believe that is the true and only way to full privacy.
Adding feeds: You stated correctly that “…it doesn’t let us add a site or a feed manually”. True but, Genieo will register you automatically to feeds in site that you visit. In order to register to CNN feeds, just browse to http://www.cnn.com , by reading your (excellent) Genieo review my Genieo automatically registered me to makeuseof.com feed. The user does need to know what RSS feed is or to mange his list, Genieo will register for you, check if the feed is valuable (brings interesting items) and unregister when a feed is not valuable.

(Yet we do understand what power users may wish to modify the feed list themselves and will add better control of your feed list in the future)

-Dotan

Saikat

Thanks for your response. I liked the app and more control will make it attractive for power users. The feed element was a bit unclear to me as also how to integrate Facebook and weather info. Though I saw both of them in the screenshots.

Dotan @Genieo

Genieo displays filtered Facebook messages on the start page if you are logged into Facebook, no action required. Weather will be supported on future release.
We will make our feed page clearer for the next release, this is a good comment thanks.
-Dotan