Part of the Apple glossary:

An OS X widget is a downloadable, interactive virtual tool that provides services or increased functionality within the Apple operating system. Essentially, widgets are miniature applications that allow the user to perform common tasks easily and access information quickly. OS X 10.3 and 10.4 automatically revert to the Dashboard after a set period of time, bringing whatever widget s that are installed and active to the foreground.

In their current incarnation, widgets provide services including -- but by no means limited to -- the following:

  • Lists of the latest news headlines or RSS news feeds.
  • Customizable weather forecasting, with radar and reflectivity real-time tracking.
  • Mapping, including access to mash-up s of geography and other data and Microsoft's Virtual Earth.
  • iTunes media content playback and listings.
  • Sticky notes.
  • Stock market activity tracking.
  • Travel information, including links to flight tracking and airport status reports.
  • Language translation.
  • Real-time sports scores.
  • Customizable interfaces for listening to Internet radio stations or podcasts.
  • Direct search for Wikipedia, Dictionary.com and other references.
  • Wireless network scanning.
  • IPTV browsing and viewing.
  • eBay auction monitoring.
  • MySpace searches.

Early examples of widgets existed as desktop accessories on earlier version of the Macintosh OS. These widgets were written as device drivers, allowing a Mac user some multitasking ability.

Microsoft's new OS, Vista , is expected to incorporate widgets in some form, under the heading of "gadgets."

This was last updated in June 2006
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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