What are Android widgets?

We look at one of Android's best features.
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What are Android widgets?

Android is the most customisable mobile software around. You can change pretty much everything on it, from the look of the app icons to the way it works. One of our favourite things for making Android phones more personal is widgets. But what exactly are they and which ones should you really use?

What are Android widgets?

Android widgets are tiles that sit on your homescreens and give you important information without you needing to open an app. You could have a weather widget that shows you the current temperature and a five day forecast, or an email widget that shows your inbox.

When you tap on widgets, they’ll open up the full app so you can get more information. So tapping on an email within the widget will open it so you can read it and reply.

How to install a widget

Most apps come with widgets. If you want to install one for an app you use a lot, just follow the steps below.

  1. Tap and hold on an empty part of your homescreen. The phone will vibrate and give you a few options.
  2. Tap ‘widgets’.
  3. Scroll through the available widgets until you find the one you want. They’re in alphabetical order to make them easier to find.
  4. Tap and hold your widget and drag it to where you want it.
  5. Tap and hold the widget again until the phone vibrates. You can then drag the circles that appear to resize it.
  6. Finally, tap the widget one more time to set up any options or accounts.

Best widgets for Android

Widgets make using your phone really quick and easy. You can download standalone widgets from Google Play and most apps come with one. These are a few of our favourites.

Power control

Power control widget

Power control is a widget that’s already installed on your phone when you get it. It gives you an easy place to turn settings like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and auto-syncing on and off.

Slider widget

Slider widget

Slider widget is a really handy tool for changing the volume and brightness settings on your phone without diving into the menus. You can change levels for ringtones, notifications, media and more all from your homescreen.

Battery HD

Battery HD widget

The little battery bar in the top corner of your phone is a bit useless really. Yes, it shows you that you’ve got 50% charge left, but how long will that last? Battery HD tells you exactly that. The app goes into loads of detail about how you’ve been using your battery and how long it’ll last if you do different things.

BBC weather

BBC Weather widget

The great British obsession with weather is rooted in our changeable skies. When a sunny July morning doesn’t rule out the possibility of rush-hour thunderstorms, it’s important to have a reliable forecast. With the BBC weather app and its widget, you’ll never be caught out like Michael Fish.

Evernote

Evernote widget

Need to make a shopping list or create a note to remind you to do something? Evernote is the best note-taking app around, and its widget just makes it even more usable. Having a to-do list on your homepage is a really simple motivator.

Month: Calendar Widget

Month calendar widget

If there’s one thing we can’t do without on our homescreen, it’s a month-long calendar. It’s so much easier that opening an app and scrolling through all the days to find upcoming events. The best widget we’ve found is Month: Calendar Widget. It has over 70 themes so you can find a look you like and syncs with other calendars to automatically update.

Countdown days

Countdown days widget

Got a deadline at work or a big holiday you’re looking forward to? Countdown days puts a convenient little countdown timer on your homescreen so you know exactly how long you’ve got.

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