After a period of (mostly ambivalent) courtship, I am now officially in love with Android widgets. I have been guilty of suggesting that Android copied iOS, which may have some truth in it, but if there’s any one thing that defines the Android iOS, widgets are probably it.
You don’t want to overwhelm your interface with these, of course, but in this post, which I imagine is the first of many, we present seven Android widgets that (a) can be very useful, (b) are hopefully not widgets that you’ve seen before, and (c) are FREE. We went down from ten to seven, because we could use some luck and seven is a lucky number, and because less is oftentimes more
The widgets: Simple Dialer Widget, Best Volume Widget, Falcon Widget for Twitter, Desktop Visualizer, Power Toggles, Onavo Count/Monitor Data, and Simple Calendar Widget.
Strangely useful, to have a dialer inside your desktop environment, in your main/home page. (I actually wonder why this isn’t a native pre-installed Android widget). Click on the different tabs to see a dialer/log/contacts list (the first two are pictured below, respectively).
Part of the experience of using an Android seems to be to have absolutely no clue whether your phone is muted for calls, alarms, media, calls, etc. This is because Android actually has different volume gauges for different functions. ‘Best Volume Widget’ can help, in that you can place a volume widget on your screen for each volume indicator, which tells you all you need to know about your device volume at a single glance.
Note that you can display all six widgets, as I have done above left, or you can simply add the one or two, etc., that are of interest to you.
If you want an awesome Twitter Widget then you should definitely check out Falcon, which I’ve been using for a while. Much more versatile than the default Twitter widget in that you can jump back and forth from mentions to people you follow, and of course you can post a Tweet right from the widget (see bottom right).
Note on why these screenshots look a bit strange: they were taken while using Launcher 8, an free launcher that brings the Windows 8 UX to Android.
Simply, lets you replace the icon of any app/shortcut/icon on your Android with the image of your choice. This has the effect of potentially transforming the look and feel of your desktop, if you are willing to put in the work to do it, that is.
See the screenshots below for an illustration. The left screenshot shows how pictures of people can be used to direct dial their phone numbers, while the right screenshot shows how you can replace the icons for apps (in this case games) with pictures.
If you like, you can read our previously published tutorial/review on how to use Desktop Visualizer.
A straightforward yet useful widget that lets you insert any of a number of useful controls into a widget. It supports more than 40 controls in total, including 3G/Mobile data, WIFI, bluetooth, brightness, restart, shutdown, GPS, etc. etc. You can customize your widget/mix and match as you see fit, change button colors etc. (see screenshot to the right).
A very practical widget that, moreover, is both FREE and Ad-free.
If you do NOT have an unlimited data plan, and, like me, have a knack for exceeding your plan, then this widget is for you. Onavo count offers three different widgets that can keep you informed of exactly how much bandwidth you’ve consumed for the month, which apps use how much bandwidth, and which apps are using bandwidth at the moment.
Not only can it help you stay within your bandwidth plan, but it can also alert you to apps that are consuming a lot of bandwidth that you don’t really use or can live without.
A highly customizable calendar widget (despite the fact that the screenshot below shows the default look). Simple Calendar Widget is a favorite of mine, and I mentioned it previously in a recent post entitled Three AWESOME free apps to enhance your Android Calendar.
That’s it for now. Would love to hear your thoughts/ideas/comments.
Do you have any favorite free widgets that should be mentioned in upcoming posts? Let me know.