Yahoo GearsWe’ve known for about a week that Yahoo! Widget Engine 4 was going to be released this morning, and anyone following our release calendar in the sidebar would have also known that. I remember back when Yahoo! acquired the widget engine and it was still called Konfabulator. Everyone was worried that since Yahoo! had purchased such a great program that they were going to drive it into the grave. They have actually done a great job keeping it up-to-date, and this newest release is perfect evidence of that.




Here’s what’s new in Yahoo! Widget Engine 4 (click on any screenshot to enlarge it):

  • Widget Dock – a brand new feature that provides a live, at-a-glance view of your favorite Internet information and services. Users can auto-hide the Dock and attach it to any side or corner of multiple monitors.
    Yahoo Widget Engine Yahoo Widget Engine
     
  • Dramatically improved performance – reduced memory consumption of individual Widgets by up to 40 percent.
  • Flickr Widget – helps users easily display, upload and tag Flickr photos. Users can now drag-and-drop larger groups of photos, and edit their tags and information without ever opening a web browser.
    Yahoo Flickr Widget
     
  • Yahoo! Gallery Widget – provides easy access to the Yahoo! Widget Gallery, the largest collection of desktop Widgets available anywhere on the Internet, with over 4,300 desktop Widgets developed and submitted by independent Widget authors from around the world. With the new Gallery Widget, users can find thousands of Widgets right from their desktop and start running them with one click.
    Yahoo Gallery Widget
  • Streamlined installation – smaller download and a new Widget-centric installation process makes it easier than ever for consumers to get the Widget they want and for authors to promote their own Widgets.
  • Improved authoring tools – new functionality and improved tools for Widget authors to build more powerful Widgets.
  • Automatic updates – notification via the Widget Dock when newer versions of the Widgets in use are available and ready for one-click upgrade.

Having played with Vista’s gadgets (equivalent to widgets) I have to admit that Yahoo! has gone beyond what I expected. The new Widget Dock is remarkable and is a feature that I never really thought about. With it you are able to have a condensed view of your widgets in case you just want to find something out real quick, or you are also able to show all of your widgets in full form. It’s like having the best of both worlds: a sidebar and desktop widgets! The only thing that I don’t like about the dock is that you can’t customize the order of the items in it…I’m not sure how the order is chosen, but I haven’t seen a way that I can move them around.

They also didn’t skimp in the graphical department. All of the widgets have an amazing glossy look that actually fit in better with Vista’s appearance than the Vista gadgets themselves. Kudos to their design team for making the widgets so attractive!

One thing that I have never been too fond of is that every widget shows up as a separate entry in the Windows Process Explorer (commonly referred to as the Ctrl+Alt+Delete Window):

Yahoo Task Manager

It would be a little nicer if they just grouped them all together so that I can see what the total amount of memory Yahoo! Widgets were taking up. I guess it’s nice the way that it is if you’re looking to find out specifically which widget is hogging your memory, but I would prefer it to be a little more condensed.

Lastly, this is available for Mac OS X and Windows 2000/XP/Vista. Once installed you’ll be able to install any of the 4,300+ widgets that are currently available.

Yahoo! Widgets Blog Announcement
Read the full Yahoo! Press Release

Thanks for the tip CoryC!