Apple could be the best thing that has happened to Android widgets in years

Google Calendar, Weather and KWGT widgets

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central

Traditionally, this is how new mobile features work: Android adds a functional but somewhat clunky feature, developers lose interest in it in three to five years, Apple refines the feature to match its “simplified” software packaging and design ( read: boring) for iOS, and then the feature is finally adopted and used on both platforms.

We’ve seen it over and over again: NFC payments, face unlock, live wallpapers, the list goes on. But this year, Apple finally copied something that has been on my bucket list for years: the home screen widgets.

Widgets are not new to iOS; have been available for Today view and lock screen since iOS 10, but with iOS 14 they are Finally make the jump to the home screen and get the ability to resize instead of the full-width visible widgets we saw earlier. And this tough Android is cheery because if any section of the Android home screen really needs fresh power, they are widgets.

Stock widgets

Source: Android Central

Android widgets have been around longer than I’ve been an Android user, and I came to the party in January 2012. And since January 2012, there have been perhaps three system-level widget updates. This means that while most people still have one (and only one) widget on their home screen, a pre-installed weather / weather widget like At a Glance on Pixels or the Samsung Weather widget, most People don’t really know what widgets are or care that they are there.

It’s a shame because the widget can be incredibly useful when done right. Case in point: I’m a music fanatic, so I like to keep a music widget on my home screen so I can quickly pause or change tracks while moving from one app / activity to another. When he was able to leave Walt Disney World in the afternoon or evening after working from home, he kept a weather widget with an hourly forecast to know when to start checking the radar for oncoming storms.

Galaxy S20 Ultra

Source: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

Widgets are useful. They are also more stable than last year’s fruitcake.

When you look at one of our phone reviews, you can tell when Andrew Martonik’s review is because he’s had the same Google Calendar widget on his home screen for over five years. Our own Daniel Bader keeps the Todoist widget handy, and Google Keep sat on my own home screen for years and years before I got into the KWLP theme.

Widgets are one of those things that users tend to set up and forget, and the same mindset seems to be true for developers, as most apps rarely (if ever) update their widgets. This is where Apple comes in: While developers add or update widgets for Apple, there’s a good chance that they’ll do the same with their Android widgets; after all, why do a job twice when you can do it right the first time? And hopefully this means we will finally get some new blood in a space that has not changed in the past three years.

iOS 14 widgets

Source: apple

Apple’s widget guidelines will be very specific: After all, Apple is just meticulous about its gorgeous bubble-loving interface, so expect to see many widgets earn that same bubbly edge in the coming months, but pay Pay attention to the Android widgets they could use the details because, like many things in Android, the design language in the widgets is like going to a bazaar: each one does their own thing with their own style.

We don’t want Google to make all widgets look exactly the same, after all, if they did, KWLP and Android would be themed, but there are certainly some things that Google needs to fix with widgets, too:

  • Widgets should be saved / processed in a standardized way. At this time, widgets are handled in different ways by different launchers and are not properly backed up or transferred along with your app design when you are importing into a new launcher.
  • The resizing of the widget should be more dynamic. KWGT and a couple of other widgets handle this well, but the vast majority of app widgets don’t resize well (if at all). By creating more uniform guidelines for dynamic widgets, Google could help make widgets more palatable than 1×1 and 4×1 widgets that look good in 2014 but only look out of date in 2020. This would also help a lot on tablets Android where the widgets have forever It looked horrible because no one optimizes widgets for different size screens than custom widgets creators.
  • Widgets must be universal. Every time I look at my Chromebook’s home screen, I just let out a soft sigh. Such a wide canvas would be the perfect place to put some widgets like a calendar widget, a Google Keep to-do list or the world clock that I have currently pinned in my dock as a Chrome app. Bring widgets to Chromebooks!

That Deadpool logo?  A music control widget

Source: Ara Wagoner / Android Central That Deadpool logo? It is a clock widget, battery monitor and music control.

It’s too late for these changes to hit Android 11, but they could certainly start working on them for next year. (And while they do, they could do the same with icon packs, as adaptive icons aren’t fixing your inconsistent icon problems.) Widgets are useful morning, noon, and night, and while they’ve been asleep at the wheel On Android for years, there are millions of users who could use a good widget if their favorite apps offered them.