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Saturday, June 25, 2005, 10:00 am PT (01:00 pm ET)

Widget Manager planned for Mac OS X 10.4.2

In addition to a more secure widget installation processor, Mac OS X 10.4.2 is expected to deliver a completely new Widget Manager that will make it easier for Mac OS X Tiger users to manage the growing number of Dashboard widgets being made available through Apple's website.

According to sources and reports already present on Mac-centric websites, Apple included the new Dashboard feature in build 8C40 of Mac OS X 10.4.2, which it distributed to thousands of developers late Friday evening.

In this latest build, the "More Widgets" button located to the far right of the Dashboard dock has been renamed "Manage Widgets." Instead of scrolling the dock to reveal the next dozen or so widgets installed on the user's system, the function launches a completely new widget manager that itself resembles a widget.

The re-sizable manager appears long and narrow by default and is adorned in the same aluminum motif as the Dashboard dock, sources said. Inside the body of the Widget Manager is a scrollable list of widgets installed on the user's system. Users can toggle each widget on or off by selecting a checkbox located to the left of each widget.

Similarly, on the right side of each third-party widget listing is a circular red icon that allows users to easily delete the widget. When selecting this option, a semi-translucent overlay appears within the Widget Manager, asking the user to confirm that he or she wishes to move the widget to the trash.

From within the Widget Manager, users also have access to a single menu — located at the top of the manager — that will sort the widget listings by name or date. The menu also reportedly includes an option to sort widgets based on whether they are enabled or not.

In response to security concerns associated with potentially malicious widgets, earlier builds of Mac OS X 10.4.2 included a Widget Installer that let users "Test Drive" newly downloaded widgets in a self-contained installer window without having to first install them in the Dashboard. According to sources, the latest build of Mac OS X 10.4.2 now incorporates this functionality into the Dashboard interface.

Sources say newly downloaded widgets are launched into a semi-translucent Dashboard container, where they can be taken for a test spin. Users can then choose to "Delete" or "Keep" the widgets.

While the latest build of Mac OS X 10.4.2 continues to list no known bugs, over a half dozen new bug fixes were reportedly included in the distribution. These fixes are rumored to address issues with AirPorts, inherit file system permissions, iTunes artwork display, and widget graphics. The build also reportedly improves Screen Saver image resolution on certain G4 iMacs, eMacs, PowerBooks and iBooks.

Sources maintain that Apple could release Mac OS X 10.4.2 any day now, but claim the company will not do so until it believes it has squashed every bug known to be lingering in the system.

Upon its completion, the Mac OS X 10.4.2 Update is expected to make its way onto optical media and into retail copies of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.