That widgets are one of Android’s most loved features is no secret. They are clearly one of the platform’s biggest assets and a staple on pretty much every home screen. Although most versions of Android come with a decent set of widgets built in, the real power of the widget comes to the fore with custom widgets available in the thousands on the Play Store.
Unfortunately, I’ve found myself wanting for a decent clock widget that did everything I needed it to do. A search that has seen me experiment with tons of options on the Play Store, including the excellent Minimalistic Text widget that I wrote about a while back and have been using since. As things go in the Android world, the app found its biggest new rival in my books last week with the Ultimate Custom Clock Widget – or UCCW as it is commonly called in the XDA Developer circles.
Not Just Another Clock Widget
Ultimate Custom Clock Widget
Let me start off by making it clear that UCCW is not for everyone. If you expect your widgets to do their job right out of the box, you’re going to be disappointed here. When you first install the app and add a widget to your home screen, it will tell you that there are no skins available and will give you an ugly gray box with a very basic clock and calendar that don’t look anything like what the screenshots may suggest.
Generic UCCW skin and editing UI
The idea is to let you customize your clock widget the way you want. Pretty much every aspect of the widget is configurable, from the background to the font, size, position, rotation and color of each individual element. Think of UCCW as a blank canvas with the necessary tools to create the ultimate clock widget for your home screen. It’s pretty much an if-you-can-think-of-it-you-can-build-it situation.
The core workflow is similar to that of the Minimalistic Text widget, but UCCW takes a more direct, WYSIWYG approach to editing your widget and also has some more advanced controls that I couldn’t find – or that were too difficult to build – in Minimalistic Text.
More Customization Than You Can Shake A Stick At
So what can you do with the Ultimate Custom Clock Widget, you ask? Way more than I can list in this review would be my shortest answer. The list of elements you get to add to your widget is enormous, and each comes with a plethora of options to make it look exactly the way to you want it to. Here’s a sampling:
Of course, you get the usual hour, minute, day, date, month, year, etc. You even have the choice of an analog clock with customizable dial and hands.
For elements like the date, weekday, month and year, you can also have a range visible on-screeen with the current word or number highlighted.
Battery status can be displayed with the battery level, current status (charging or discharging) as well as a battery bar for a visual cue. The battery bar can be either a rectangle or circle.
A boatload of options for weather related information is available, including the ability to use custom images for different weather conditions. Options include temperature, wind, humidity, forecast and more.
To top things off, you can include a count of missed calls, new text messages or the next alarm time to the mix.
And then there are a bunch of static text and image elements you can add to the widget for text labels, icons, etc. For example, if you like your battery status display as a percentage, you can add a static field with the % sign.
Only a few of the customization options
Once you have added the elements you need to the widget, it’s time to go to town editing them. You can not just change the size and position of the elements like a lot of other widgets do, there’s a ton more to do here, including:
Change the color and transparency (value) or each element individually
Change the rotation of an element, which makes it possible to have those slanting words and numbers you always wanted on your home screen
Change the font, font size and alignment of text objects (you can use any TTF font by simply copying the file in the /fonts folder on your SD Card)
Add a shadow to any element to make it stand out or to get a letterpress effect
Some Of My Favorite UCCW Skins
As you have probably guessed, it can be a lot of work getting everything exactly as you want in UCCW. If you are not the patient types though, you can easily download skins from the web and import them into your designs. A downloaded skin comes with all the images and fonts necessary to make it look exactly as intended. A flourishing community of UCCW tweakers ensures you will never run out of nice skins to customize your home screen.
Here’s a set of some of my most favorite UCCW skins from the vibrant MyColorScreen community. Unfortunately, not all of them are available to download. If you are very keen on getting one, just comment on the thread and maybe the author will oblige.
Dark Pie UI
Mnml System UI
Ultimate Custom Clock Widget is not for everyone, that’s for sure. Even if you simply download skins and import them into your setup, it’s not the most seamless of processes. Things don’t fall in place just fine and the UI does not make it entirely clear how you can go about creating exactly what you intend to.
That said, it you are the patient types who want nothing but the best for their home screens and are ready to invest the time and energy into getting things in order, UCCW is an absolute hacker’s dream. I will very soon be back with a detailed tutorial on creating your own custom clock widget using UCCW. Until then, happy customizing!