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11 Android widgets that are actually useful
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Choosing and setting up widgets is one of the joys of using Android over iOS, so you shouldn't neglect them — and you've got a broader range of top-quality widgets to choose from than you might have realized. We've picked out some of our favorites, and they all bring something genuinely useful and functional to your home screen.
If you're yet to dip your toes into the widget waters, you can up your current selection by long-pressing on a blank area of the home screen, then choosing Widgets from the menu that pops up. Any app on your device that has widgets with it will appear in the list — tap and hold on a widget to place it.
The Android app store is of course awash with weather apps and weather widgets, and being able to see at-a-glance what the forecast is can be really useful. Out of all the options, we like Geometric Weather: it's beautifully designed, it's free, and you get a choice of widgets in different sizes, with different levels of information attached. They're the sort of widgets that go with whatever wallpaper you happen to have installed, which is helpful.
Event Flow Calendar Widget
It makes a lot of sense to have your calendar right up on your home screen, showing what's coming up next without you having to open up another app, and Event Flow Calendar Widget is a major improvement over the widgets you get with Google Calendar. It's packed with customization options, can sync with as many or as few of your Google Calendars as you like, and gives you a choice of different layouts to pick from too.
Need to count down to an important meeting, or vacation, or anniversary? Hurry is one of the best apps for the job, and it comes with some of the best widgets too — you can customize the look and color of multiple countdowns, drop in background images (including GIFs), and generally get your home screen countdown widgets looking exactly the way you want. If only all Android widgets were this well designed and functional.
Material Music Widget
Having music playback controls right on your home screen is really convenient, and while your music app of choice may well have a widget of its own, Material Music Widget is definitely worth a look too. It works seamlessly with Spotify, YouTube Music, Amazon Music, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal and more, and if you pay the premium fee then you can switch between them from the widget itself (otherwise you need to open the app settings).
If anything lends itself to widgetization, it's to do lists — get them right up on your home screen and you can quickly add entries as well as tick them off, without too much disruption to your day. A whole host of to do list apps and widgets are available, but Stuff excels in terms of its design and simplicity, with quick and easy categories, an intuitive way of organizing and ticking off tasks, and a good number of customization options too.
When it comes to having handy shortcuts on your home screen, few can be handier than volume controls — just in case an important meeting or library hush gets interrupted by a call. Volume Control is a comprehensive app for managing volume levels on Android, and it has a stack of useful widgets included, controlling volumes for calls, notifications, music, alarms and more. You need to pay for the app or watch a video ad to unlock the widgets.
Sure, you're a regular Google Maps, but have you ever used the bundled home screen widget? With one tap you can be walking, cycling, driving or taking public transit to a preset address of your choice (like home, the office, or the gym). It works best for somewhere you go to regularly, but don't always know the way back to (like your new vacation Airbnb), and you can quickly specify a nickname when the widget is created.
ASCII System Monitor
ASCII System Monitor shows you exactly what's happening on your Android device, right there on the home screen: how much memory is left, what stage your battery is at, how much of the internal storage space you're using, and more. You can have these readings in separate widgets, or combine them together, while paying to unlock the premium version of the app gives you more customization options and an even wider choice of widgets.
That's right, you can add Netflix to the list of apps that everyone has installed on their phone but never gotten around to looking at the widget for. The Netflix widget takes up a good chunk of screen space, but it's actually pretty useful: it lets you cycle through the stuff you're already watching, the stuff you've added to your list to watch next, and the stuff that's currently trending on the streaming platform, all ready to be launched.
Gauge Battery Widget
Plenty of widgets out there will show you remaining battery life on screen, but few do it with such aplomb and style as Gauge Battery Widget, which shows how much longer your battery will last as if it's a gas tank. You get a variety of different styles and sizes to choose from — we always like to see variety in our widgets — and the associated app brings up plenty of useful battery information as well (including temperature and charging speed).