At least one other web app we saw at the SXSW Interactive Startup Spotlight resembled Pinterest, but given how hot the burgeoning photo-sharing startup is, it came as no surprise to see a second imitator. Stepwells doesn't mimic the use of Pinterest exactly, but there are definitely some similarities that can be drawn in terms of aesthetics, particularly with Stepwells' clean rectangular boxes with ample white space.
But what exactly does the web app do? Basically, it creates a live collage of the web services you choose to add to a dashboard within your browser. It's handy because it lets you bypass URLs, credentials, navigation and search after you've bookmarked these sites. Want to stay updated with a particular topic—for instance, "South by Southwest"? You can post boxes that extract data about SXSW across different sites—so the app crawls and slurps up related Pinterest pins, Tumblr posts, tweets, Instagram pictures, etc. and deposits them onto your dashboard environment, which scrolls laterally from screen to screen. Each box can also refresh at regular intervals that you determine. You bookmark the site or topic on Stepwells using a custom browser extension.
Another potential use for the app: Add all your frequently visited sites to the dashboard so you no longer have to open multiple tabs when you get to your desk in the morning. (Or rather, when you get back home—since surely you only peruse work-related sites at the office.) The web app eventually plans to migrate to your phone and tablet, so you can seamlessly jump into your dashboard even after you leave your computer station. Each time you visit Stepwells, you also get notifications for updates within your separate bookmarked items.
Stepwells is in closed beta right now, and quite far from finished. We tried the app ourselves through a special account and at certain points, the bookmark function froze and we couldn't add the sites of our choosing. But since the service is planning to launch by mid of next year, there's still plenty of time for the startup to iron out the kinks. If you're curious about this new service, you can take a peek at the read-only dashboard the startup demoed at SXSWi here.