Home screen widgets are one of the star features of the Android operating system. They’ve been a permanent fixture ever since the first pudding-based version of Android (Cupcake 1.5) was rolled out. Apple followed suit a few years later (from iOS 8 onwards), but with access restricted to the Notification Center.
Widgets give you a mini display of your apps’ most recent and relevant info, right there on your home screen, without you having to dip into each app individually. This comes in super handy, especially for apps that regularly sync with web services - like news readers, weather apps, social networks, and more.
Widgets save you time, and may even help you to squeeze some extra juice out of your battery by reducing the number of times you have to open and close apps. But many of us still don’t use them to their full potential. Appszoom’s here to sort this one out, once and for all. Check out our ultimate list of apps with the best and most useful widgets - and get them glued to your Android home screen now!
Feedly is one of the most popular, multi-platform news aggregators out there, poaching legions of ex-Google Reader users when it was shut down back in July 2013. For the most part, that’s thanks to its sexy interface and successful mobile-first focus.
The app allows you to manually create newsfeeds from a ton of different sources (blogs, magazines, newspapers, YouTube channels, etc) or simply select from a bunch of different general topics. You can sort your sources into separate files or via tags, dip in and out via mobile or on the web, save articles to ‘read later’, switch themes, and create your own shareable magazines.
The Feedly widget (4x2) displays content from any or all of your chosen categories right there on your Android home screen. News comes in at you without you even noticing, each time you unlock your phone, so you won’t have to open the app to stay abreast of everything that’s happening.
There are plenty of decent weather apps for Android, but 1Weather from OneLouder Apps stands out for its sharp design, accuracy, functionality, and a brilliantly conceived widget.
1Weather features 4 widgets (1x1, classic 2x2, compact 4x1, full 4x2), the information displayed on each depending (unsurprisingly) on its size. The full widget includes the forecast and temperature for the next 5 days, the chance of rain, wind speed, and humidity. If all you want is the forecast and temperature for today, the smallest widget (1x1) will do you just fine.
Dictionary.com is the official app form the popular web service, which pulls together various English language references (Thesaurus, synonyms, etymological)and other learning resources, like the ‘word of the day,’ educational blog articles, presentations, a translation service, and the most frequently searched words in your region.
Its little widget (4x1) is as simple as it is useful, featuring just the “word of the day” and a search box for quickly consulting the app’s various dictionaries (it even supports voice searches). With Dictionary.com, you’ll learn at least one new English word a day (including definition and pronunciation), without even trying.
In the most recent versions of Android, access to the most important system controls has improved massively. From the notifications screen, you can easily toggle Wi-Fi, mobile data, airplane mode, Bluetooth, and even the flashlight. Power Toggles makes it easier still, saving you the hassle of having to swipe down to access them. Everything you need is right there on your home screen.
With Power Toggles, you can create customized widgets (4x1) with the switches you most want at hand: screen brightness, location, system volume, camera flash… You decide. The customization options are endless: you can apply themes or pick your own color palette, add or remove switches (there are up to 50 to choose from), and change your widget’s position. You can sort your switches, and have them accessible from the home screen or the notifications center.
DashClock Widget kicks notifications up a notch. What better way to save time, than having notifications delivered straight to your Lock screen, so you can decide at a glance if it’s worth unlocking your phone or not?
DashClock Widget displays the time, new Gmail messages, alarms, and other installable widget extensions, all on your lock screen, providing you’re running on Android 4.2-4.4. Failing that, you can still get to all the extensions via a customizable widget on your home screen. In fact, DashClock even integrates with some of the other apps we’ve mentioned in our list, as well as many others you’ve probably already got installed on your mobile.
If you’re a social network junkie, stop wasting precious stalking time on opening and closing each platform. BlingBoard is a brilliant widget which brings your social networks, Gmail, SMS, and call apps all to one place, featuring quick update notifications at a glance.
Each supported app has its own notifications counter and a small content preview. Forget opening up each of your apps: just switch screens to get the lowdown on everything that’s happening in your social networks.
Our poor old memories are fragile things. It’s good to get into the habit of noting down tasks as they come throughout the day, and jotting down brilliant ideas with each lightbulb ping. You might not always have a pen and paper on hand, but our inseparable smartphones go wherever you will go. And a simple and practical note-taking app like Google Keep could well be the answer.
Google Keep widgets make life a doddle. With the wide-screen widget (3x1), you’ll have direct access to note-taking, lists, voice notes, and photos from the Google account of your choice. With the 3x2 widget, you’ll also be able to preview notes and reminders in a single tap. And depending on the launcher you’re using, most of the widget sizes can be tweaked just to your liking.
If the previous widgets still aren’t enough for you, you can always take the bull by the horns and make your own. That’s exactly what the Ultimate Custom Widget (UCCW) lets you do.
With UCCW, you can customize your own widgets down to the last detail: choose the design, source, styles, icons, and, of course, what info you want to be displayed (time, call log, calendar, alarms, etc). Complete the look with a choice of dozens of skins. It’s totally free to download from Google Play.