The current method of inserting images into widgets is a multi-step process that many plugins have attempted to simplify. Hundreds of thousands of WordPress users have installed a plugin with this feature. The Image Widget plugin, created by Modern Tribe, is one of the most popular with more than 500,000 active installs.
Customizer component co-maintainer Weston Ruter noted in the comments that the new proposed image widget also allows for external images to be embedded by URL. This is a feature that Jetpack offers in its image widget. The new core widget will support both use cases that WordPress users are already familiar with from popular plugins.
The image widget is the first of several planned JS-powered media widgets, including video, audio, galleries, and slideshows. Ruter said progress on the video widget is coming along well and he anticipates it will likely land next. Contributors have begun work on the audio widget, but Ruter said galleries and slideshows are a higher priority.
Matt Mullenweg, who is leading core development this year, confirmed in his quarterly update today that the image widget will be considered for 4.8.
“The plan is for the larger block-driven customization work to kick off in June,” Mullenweg said. “Prior to that, we’re focusing on widgets and other low-hanging fruit. Lack of developers slowed us down the last few months, now doing better but could still use more help there. Media widgets + WYSIWYG on text widget seem simple but will have a big user impact.”
Contributors on the Customizer team are asking for developers and users to test the new image widget. The latest version of the plugin is available on GitHub. The Core Media Widgets plugin is also available on WordPress.org.
I think it would also be nice to include an option to specify a url the image could link to when clicked.