Speed Dial first came around with Opera in 2007 and since then has become a pretty big hit for just about every browser you’ve ever heard of. Some browsers, like Chrome, even include a similar feature or their own spin on Speed Dial right out of the box. Others may rely on you to download a third-party plugin to enable this kind of functionality.
If you use an obscure browser that doesn’t show any support for Speed Dial, there’s good news for you: the same feature can easily be replicated by a large number of web services. All you need to do is configure your page and set it as your browser’s homepage, and it’s as good as any add-on for the same feature. Some do it better than others, and in this post I’d like to put you on to four of the very best web-based Speed Dial pages that I’ve come across.
Usertab [No Longer Available]
Usertab starts out as a speed dial homepage with seven sites included by default: Facebook, Google, YouTube, Yahoo!, Baidu, Wikipedia, and Windows Live. There are two free spots open, but you can replace any of those existing sites with your own.
Adding a new page is as simple as clicking one of the blank squares and pasting, or manually typing, a URL.
A thumbnail will automatically be generated for the website and it will be represented in the square on the page. All that’s left to do is add this page as your browser’s homepage and you’re finished. Usertab is very easy to use and is one of the most true Speed Dial experiences out of any similar web applications.
Sevego is very similar to Usertab and just as straightforward.
Shown above, you can simply click on one of the squares to replace an existing website with any URL of your own. You’re able to add additional space for more sites by clicking the More Links button, which will extend the page to 15 squares in total.
Sevego also features a Settings page. You’re able to save your customized Sevego page or save your list of links by having them emailed to you. You can also change the background of the Sevego page to any color you’d like.
Sevego is a neat service and handles Speed Dial very effectively.
Tilerun [No Longer Available]
Tilerun is a unique and refreshing take on Speed Dial. The website requires that you first create an account to use their service, for the purpose of being able to save multiple different speed dial homepages and access them from a permanent URL corresponding to your username.
Creating a new page allows for you to select how many rows and columns you’d like to have.
The next step in the process is to select the appropriate number of websites to include on your page. Tilerun offers around 100 websites that you can add to your page, but one major weakness is that they don’t allow you to add your own custom URL. As you can see from the screenshot, they do however manage to include some of the most popular websites on the web.
The screenshot above is an example of what a completed page might look like. Each page is represented by a unique URL that you can save, set as your homepage, or share with others.
Tilerun is one of the more advanced and complete services that offers functionality characteristic of a Speed Dial. It’s a neat web application that I really recommend you check out.
Where many other Speed Dial alternatives are visual, Yourls takes on a very minimalist approach.
To save your own customized page, you’ll need to create your own account. It only requires an email and password and should take no more than about 10 seconds.
Page customization is pretty limited, but it’s everything you’d expect from such a simple solution. You’re able to customize a page with links beneath lists, as you can see I’ve done for a MakeUseOf header in the above screenshot. Any list or link can be deleted and everything can be rearranged. When you’re done, you can just click the Save button and set the page as your browser’s starting page.
You’re also given the option of making your Yourls page public and assigning it a customized URL. This will allow you to share your speed dial homepage with anyone else who may be interested in the same kind of content.
If you’re looking for something that’s not too fancy, Yourls is a cool concept and a neat spin on the traditional Speed Dial.
Speed Dial is a really cool feature that I’d recommend everyone take advantage of. Why start with any single page when you can start with your homepage set as a whole collection of websites that you can immediately access with just a click? I’ve been using Speed Dial alternatives for years and I’ll probably never change back to the old blank starting page or resorting to just Google. It’s something I’ve really grown to enjoy, and if it’s new to you then one of these four websites could be the best way to get you into the habit.
Which of these websites offers the best Speed Dial homepage experience to you? Do you know of any others that I’ve left out that are worth sharing? Drop me a line in the comments with any questions or feedback and feel free to let me know.