With the growth of apps, the various smartphone platforms are all becoming similar. What makes Google’s Android stands out from the rest is the ability to add “widgets” on the home screen and offer the user a unique experience. For those of you who are not sure what widget is, they are essentially interactive icons on the home screen which update with information or change the settings of your device. There are thousands of widgets in the Android Market and unfortunately there is no effective way of searching for them except to simply search for “widgets”.
In this series of articles, I will highlight groups of widgets that are useful for different tasks. This first article in the series features widgets that are useful for monitoring or tweaking Android settings.
Note: Most of these widgets also have “pro” or “extended” versions with more features, but which also costs money.
To add a widget to your Android device, simply long press anywhere on your home screen and select “widget”.
Widgets For Toggling Settings
A smartphone has a number of features that are not always necessary. For example, unless you are in an area with WiFi, having your WiFi radio turned on is a waste of battery as it will constantly try and find a new network. On the other hand, it is a pain to have to constantly dig through menus to disable selected radios. Therefore, putting toggle widgets (widgets that activate or deactivate particular functions) on your home screen alleviates this pain.
1. Free Power Widget: This puts a widget bar on your home screen that allows you to monitor and toggle a multitude of settings, including the following:
- Bluetooth (only Android 2.x)
- Lock Pattern (Only Android 2.2 or lower)
- Brightness Toggle
- Brightness Slider
- Sync (only Android 2.x)
- Stay awake
- Always On
- Screen Timeout
- WiFi Lock
2. Toggle Widgets Pack: This pack of widgets places individual icons on your home screen (unlike the above widget bar) and it allows you to toggle the following settings:
- Airplane mode
- GPS (Not one click since Android API does not support this)
- Reboot (Requires root access)
- Silent mode
3. CurveFish Widgets: The developer CurveFish has created individual widgets for toggling the following settings:
You can also download the OnOff Widgets Pack (from the same developer) which features a collection of the following toggle widgets:
- Airplane mode
- APN (data)
- Network 2G/3G
- Screen timeout
- Silent mode
Battery Monitor Widgets
It is strange that Google does not provide an adequate application for monitoring the battery level of your Android handset. There is a battery icon in the notification bar, however it is not very precise. Fortunately, there are a number of widgets that display the battery level of your device on your home screen:
- Circle Battery Widget
- Battery Watcher Widget
- Battery Widget
- Battery Solo Widget
- Battery Monitor Widget: The above widgets are all fairly basic as they merely display the current battery level. In contrast, this widget gives you complete battery monitoring through a notification icon, battery history, graphs, and alarms.
In the next part of this Android widget series, we will discuss the various clock widgets in the market.
Image credit: Johan Larsson
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