5 Awesome New Ways To Make Android Widgets More Useful

Widgets, widgets, widgets. Has there ever been such a promising Android feature that Google hasn’t wanted for so long?

Okay, so maybe there has been, erm, a lot of times, actually. But even so, Android’s widget system is a perfect example of a rare advantage that Google basically buried, abandoned, and left on the verge of extinction until its hoped-for revival in the 2021 Android 12 update. (And that resurgence, for That’s right, it happened for no apparent reason. Just a totally random and unexpected change of heart after a decade of indifference. Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Google may have given up on widgets for a while, but the good news is that (a) they’re back, darling, and (b) the Android developer community has kept moving forward and coming up with creative new ways to adopt. widgets even while they were being ignored at the platform level. And now, no matter what version of Android your favorite phone is running, you can up your own game of Android widgets and get some fruitful new ways to get the most out of your phone’s framework.

Here, my dear, are some great ways to use your favorite Android widgets and change the way you do things on your phone. (And if you have a Chromebook, by the way, be sure to check out this clever trick to bring widgets to that environment too).

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Android Widget Improvement #1: On-Demand Home Screen Popup

Widgets are a wonderful way to interact with all kinds of information without having to open apps, but having too many widgets can quickly lead to a cluttered and overwhelming home screen.

Well, here’s a nice way to give yourself the benefit of a widget while keeping a clean and minimal space to work in: a great app called popup widget 3 lets you create a popup widget on demand (get it?) that looks like a normal icon on your home screen but then loads whatever widget you want when you tap on it.


Android widgets: popup window (1) jr

you can even get In fact wildcard and set a single icon that opens multiple widgets at the same time, like your inbox and calendar together:

Android widgets: popup window (2) jr

Not bad, right?

Popup Widget 3 costs $1.50 and does not require any special permissions or login forms. And it’s quite simple and easy to set up: once you install and open the app, it will guide you to add any popup widgets you want. You can choose the name and even the icon associated with each one along with its precise location on your screen and how much the screen behind it should dim when it loads.

The app will offer to add the shortcut directly to your home screen, or you can also find all your popup widget creations by pressing and holding the main popup widget icon in your app drawer.

And that, my widget-loving wallaby, is just our first chance to win widgets.

Android Widget Improvement #2: The Universal On-Demand Popup

If you like the idea of ​​having a widget on demand but would rather make it available to invoke from anywhere instead of just from your home screen, this next fancy widget option is just what you need.

It comes from a spectacular app called edge gestures, which works in conjunction with Pop-Up Widget 3 to take that same concept and make it universally accessible. (I told you it was crazy!)

When you first install Edge Gestures, the app will ask you to enable it as a system accessibility service and give it the ability to appear on top of other apps. These permissions sound scary, and they should! — but in the case of this specific utility, they are absolutely appropriate and necessary for it to work. The first is the only way an app can create a custom gesture system-wide, which we need for this setup to work, and the second is the way your widget can display on top of whatever else you’re doing.

(If you’re worried, keep this in mind: Edge Gestures doesn’t ask for any other permissions from the system, including the ability to access the internet. That means you’d have no way of sending information outside of your device and to any theoretical.) coconuts that lurk in the virtual shadows, even if I wanted to. But it seems safe to say no. The app is reputable, having been around for quite some time, and has a large number of overwhelmingly positive reviews. )

Where were we? Oh sure: once you’re inside the Edge Gestures settings area, you’ll be able to select exactly which gesture you want to use to open your widget. I’d think hard about finding something that doesn’t interfere with anything else, like Android’s system-level gestures, and is convenient to access without being a command you’d likely trigger by mistake.

So, for example, you can do the gesture with a simple swipe down along the left side of the screen. To do that, you would find the “Swipe Down” option within the “Left” tab of the app, and set it to “Popup Widget”, and then create or select any Popup Widget element you want. And remember: you can select a widget or multiple widgets, too.

Get ready for some serious oohs and ahhs:

Android Widgets: Edge Gestures jr

As you can see, this opens up a whole new world of mobile multitasking potential. I mean, really: how could you No I love that?

The last thing worth doing is going into all the other gesture options in that same settings area and tapping “Clear” for each one to get rid of the default Edge Gestures actions. It would also go on any side of the screen that are not using, left or right, and tap the switch to completely disable gestures on that side. That way, you won’t inadvertently trigger any gestures you don’t really want or need.

Edge Gestures costs $1.49 to use.

Android Widget Improvement #3 – The Floating Bubble

Next, here’s an interesting twist on the same on-demand Android widget idea: If you like the idea of ​​having an always-available widget but aren’t as keen on the hidden gesture concept, an app called overlays It will let you create a small floating bubble that you can place anywhere on your screen and then tap to open any widget whenever you want, just like with Android’s Bubbles messaging system which is often forgotten.

Check it out:

Android Widgets: Overlays jr

By default, Overlays gives you a bunch of their own Little widgets to choose from, but the real power comes from adding widgets from Android apps you really trust. To do that, tap the “Triggers” tab at the bottom of the Overlays settings area, then tap the red plus button in the bottom right corner of the screen. Select “Manual”, then type the name you want for your widget and tap the icon to choose the icon you want.

Tap “Save”, then select “Widget” and find the widget you want from the list. At that point, you will see a preview of the widget. Move or resize it if you like, then hit the arrow in the top left corner of the screen to exit that interface. Last but not least, tap on the name of your newly created widget on the screen next to it to change its status to “Always On”.

As soon as you exit the app and return to your home screen, your fancy new widget should appear immediately. All you have to do is tap the little downward-facing arrow in its corner to minimize it to a bubble, which you can then hold to move it anywhere your widget-loving heart desires.

Overlays can also create widgets that appear automatically based on context – so something could appear every time you connect to a certain Bluetooth device or Wi-Fi network, for example. To explore those options, simply follow the same steps above, but choose “Event” instead of “Manual” when you get to the “Triggers” tab settings.

Overlays is free with an optional $4 in-app upgrade that removes some ads from the settings tool and unlocks a handful of advanced features.

Android Widget Improvement #4: The Wonder of the Voice Invoked Widget

If you have a Google Pixel phone, pay attention: you can actually call up some of the most frequently accessed Android widgets at any time simply by issuing the appropriate voice command.

Yes indeed: the extra advanced version of the Google Assistant in pixels has a big hidden secret. Just say “Ok Google” and then say something like “Show me the Keep widget.”

And by God, do you want to look at that?

Android Widgets: Google Assistant, Keep jr

As of now, the system seems to work mainly with Android app widgets made by Google, including Keep, Calendar, Chrome, Clock, Maps, Google News, and YouTube Music. It’s an incredibly convenient way to view any widget you need from anywhere on your system and without having to lift a finger. And now you know.

Android Widget Improvement #5 – The Custom Web Widget

Last but not least, in our collection of wacky Android widget possibilities is a very recent discovery for me: the ability to create your own custom widget for just about any website imaginable.

I’ve got a detailed rundown of all the steps in this column, but the short version is that an app called Widgetify makes it surprisingly easy to turn any website into a widget and then display it on your home screen. That way, you can monitor it all the time and always have it at your fingertips, whether the site in question is a favorite news source, a forum you frequent, or perhaps an important page within your own web presence. company.

Custom Android Widget - Websites jr

And there you have it: five wacky, wild, and wonderful ways to make widgets even more amazing. Some days, you have to love Android and the creative thinking it enables.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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