15 great widgets to enhance Android

15 great widgets to enhance Android

Summary: One of the biggest advantages of Android over iPhone is widgets. Android has them, iPhone does not. Here are 15 of the best widgets available for Android.

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One of the biggest advantages of Android over iPhone is widgets. Android has them, iPhone does not.

Widgets are valuable because they can provide an at-a-glance look at lots of different kinds of information and quick access to valuable apps and configuration settings.

To help you find some of the most useful widgets, I've put together my list of the top 15. The best way to way this list is in the screenshot gallery. But, you can also view it in list form below.

A couple things to keep in mind with widgets: 1.) They can sometimes hog resources, bandwidth, and battery life so you should make sure you're using a task killer to regularly refresh your open apps; 2.) Widgets can take up a lot of screen real estate and so you may need to use an alternate home screen launcher, such as Launcher Pro, to give yourself some extra space.

The screenshots

http://www.techrepublic.com/contents/2346-13416_11-452087.html

The list

1. Extended Controls

Android comes with a "Power Control" widget (bottom) that I've always liked because it lets you quickly toggle Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Brightness, and more. However, I recently discovered the "Extended Controls" widget, which allows you to create a customized version of Power Control with a lot more toggle options.

2. Battery Watcher

This widget provides a battery percentage visual. Since you can't add the battery percentage to the notification icon in Android, I always anchor this simple widget on my primary home screen on any Android device. I like that it is the size of an app icon, so it doesn't take up too much screen real estate.

3. Picture Dial

This is a smartphone speed dial app that allows you to set up your most important and most frequently-dialed people or numbers based on photos. You can see the two sizes of the widget, one with two numbers and one with four. You can also stack multiple widgets on the same page. The default configuration is that you select a contact and then assign phone, text, or email to the speed dial button.

4. Analytics Widget

If you use Google Analytics to track Web site traffic, this little widget makes it easy to get a get quick glance at your traffic metrics. It takes up the same amount of space as an app icon and you can set up multiple widgets to track multiple metrics.

5. 3G Watchdog

As most people are aware, "Unlimited Bandwidth" data plans are not unlimited. Most of them are capped at 5GB. Plus, companies like AT&T are moving away from unlimited plans altogether. That means people are going to need to be more conscious of the bandwidth usage. The 3G Watchdog is a widget that can track it for you. The widget is available in two sizes, as you can see in the screenshot.

6. System Info

This widget provides a great little system monitoring function for battery life, over-heating, memory, and storage.

7. Pure Calendar

There's a built-in widget that can provide a quick glance at your calendar but Pure Calendar is far more detailed and customizable.

8. Pure Messenger

The cousin of Pure Calendar is Pure Messenger, which can provide a quick glance at your inbox. It can even integrate SMS messages, Twitter DMs, and Facebook mail.

9. Buzzbox

Buzzbox offers a no-frills widget for quickly glancing at the news. There are a bunch of pre-configured RSS sources (including some good ones for tech) and you can easily add your own.

10. SMS Unread Count

The basic premise here is that this widget replaces your Messaging (SMS) icon with a widget that looks like an icon but includes a little red circle in the upper right corner with the number of unread messages you have (mirroring the iPhone UI). The app can also do this for Gmail and Phone (missed calls).

11. Last Call

This widget provides a glance at your last call, which makes it easy to redial or to call back a missed call. You can also click on the widget to go to your full Call Log.

12. FlightView

For travelers, the FlightView widget is very handy. Rather than digging through apps or Web pages to get a flight status update, you can enter your airline and flight number into this app and it will track it for you.

13. Twitter

As I've said before, Twitter is a terrific real-time intelligence engine. Now that there's an official Twitter Android app, there are also a couple Twitter widgets (large and small) for scanning your Twitter stream.

14. Scoreboard

This is a Google widget that lets you keep track of the scores from your favorite sports teams. It shows the last game and the next game (or current game).

15. Pandora

Pandora is a custom streaming "radio station" for the Internet age. You simply search by an artist or song and it will create a running playlist based on that one piece of information. This widget makes it easy to control Pandora, including play/pause, thumb up, thumb down, and skip-track buttons.

Topics: Mobility, Collaboration, Hardware, Social Enterprise

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25 comments
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  • RE: 15 great widgets to enhance Android

    I'd add the Blik Calendar Widget. Its in beta at the moment but very stable. Worth a look.
    Clinst
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  • NO, stop perpetuating this stupid myth!

    Argh! Why do people keep saying stupid things like make sure you regularly use a task killer to reduce resource usage??! Its infuriating, you are supposed to be an informed source of information, this just proves otherwise and gives Android detractors ammunition!

    Please research this before perpetuating such disinformation. The only relevent resources are memory and CPU (as batt is directly related to CPU) most apps are doing ZERO when not "on screen" - therefore consuming ZERO cpu or battery resources. If they are doing something it is usually because you have asked it (ex/implicitly) to do so in which case it defeats the purpose to kill apps! If you don't want it to do that then don't ask it to in the first place and you wont have to keep pointlessly and self-defeatingly killing apps!

    As for memory this resources is never 'wasted' in android - when an app is no longer on screen its state is saved and can/will be killed automatically whenever the OS needs memory for something else. It is pointless and self-defeating to kill apps for memory - leaving them alone means all recently used apps return more quickly when you switch back to them. Even performance concerns due to garbage collection are very minor and rare, compared with guaranteed performance reductions due to constantly killing apps. Think of it like keeping apps in 'cache' for speed and only flushing them if memory is needed elsewhere.
    lexter99
    • Not completely a myth

      @lexter99 You state that "most apps are doing zero when not on screen". I'd agree as long as you are talking about "most" and not all. Widgets are different and are doing something all the time. They have to be in order to work. For example the various battery monitors have to be constantly running and periodically polling the status of the battery and then updating the screen display as the percentage changes. How about my weather widget that periodically changes as the day goes by. I has to be using both location information and the phone's 3g connection in order to know where I am and to change the display of the temperature etc as it changes. You might get away with saying that the resource usage for these is minimal but there is no way it can be zero - otherwise they would not work and would be useless.
      And there is no question that there are some badly behaved apps out there that do cause the battery to drain faster than it should. You might say that those apps are crap and should be uninstalled, but for the average user it can be difficult to figure out just what it is that is causing the battery to drain. A task killer can help because you can experiment with killing one at a time to figure out who the culprit is.

      So just calm down. I love my Droid but you are sounding like the Android version of an iTard who can't admit that there are any flaws.
      cornpie
      • RE: 15 great widgets to enhance Android

        @cornpie Another thing you can do is just turn off the services it needs like 3G and GPS when the battery is more important then the widget. My phone drains like crazy in the building where I work because of the horrible reception problems, so I just put in Airplane mode and my battery drops very little during the day.
        StupidTechZealots-23432415690276115908309621553360
      • Actually, it is...

        @cornpie lexter is actually 100% right. You even stated yourself that as long as he is talking about "most" apps you'd agree yet when you quote him "most" is the very first word used. Ive never seen someone completely contradict themselves in a single sentence.

        Then you go on to talk about how widgets and apps are different things. He never even mentioned widgets, you can't kill widgets with a task killer. Widgets are more like an integration of the launcher. My take is that you don't know as much about the android platform as you pretend.

        And yet, HES supposed to be the Android version of an iTard? He never said there aren't any flaws with the android, he simply explained that most users are ignorant to the true effects of task killers... as you just proved.
        erberv
  • RE: 15 great widgets to enhance Android

    I would add the Slacker Radio caching app, instead of Pandora. Similar in function to Pandora except that Slacker will cache up to 25 "stations", 100 songs per station, auto-refresh via WiFi overnight if you are on a charger, for offline play.

    I use this in my car, plugged into an audio adapter, in lieu of poor coverage terrestrial radio or satellite radio.
    ClarenceD
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  • RE: 15 great widgets to enhance Android

    How about my weather widget that periodically changes as the day goes by. I has to be using both location information and the phone's 3g connection in order to know where I am and to change the display of the temperature etc as it changes...<br><a href="http://www.certificationkey.net/exams/JN0-331.php">Testking JN0-331</a>
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  • I don't think so...

    I don't "need" any of this crap.
    rag@...
  • One of the biggest advantages of Android over iPhone is widgets.

    Widgets are not an advantage.
    The Star King
    • Yea the hell they are!!

      @The Star King When you unlock your phone you see data. No looking for an app to find the data you need. If its not on the screen your on then it takes no more than a flick or two to get to it. If you have a desktop app that has a "helicopter view" then you pinch and tap where the widget is located. As long as your display is on you can see updated info from multiple sources in a configuration that suits you. You can't do that by using one off apps.<br><br>Sure its not an advantage....until Jobs bows down and adds them to the iPhone. Then the iFools will be foaming at the mouth to get the iPhone 5 because of a feature they said they didn't care about.
      storm14k
  • Overclock widget

    Overclock widget is my favorite, should be on the list.. you can find it on http://www.androidwidgets.co/ though!
    consi9liere
  • Message has been deleted.

    Green Pakee
  • RE: 15 great widgets to enhance Android

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    nevgod
  • Actually, they're great

    3g Watchdog it's the better for me. You can get it from http://www.androidwidget.info
    PPacie
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