In our Android bubble, we like to say that Apple "reinvents" some features with every new iPhone or iOS release. While that is sarcastically true in many instances, Apple often adds a special twist that we hadn't seen before. This was the case with iOS 14's widgets which, although hamstrung by various limitations, still offered a cool addition in the form of widget stacks. I've wanted something similar on my Android devices for months and now it's arrived thanks to the beloved third-party launcher, Action Launcher.
Widget stacks are a solution to widget overload and disorganization on your homescreen. Instead of placing multiple widgets with various designs and colors, knowing you only need them intermittently, you stack them on top of each other and simply swipe between them vertically, keeping your homescreen clean. The feature has been implemented in the same manner on Action Launcher.
The latest beta version of the app added a new Widget Stack option at the top of the widget picker. Tap and drag it to your homescreen to create an empty stack. Then tap that to open up the widget picker again and choose any existing widget to add it to the stack. After you've picked your first one, you have to tap-and-hold on the stack to add a new widget or remove the existing one.
You can also resize the stack like you would any regular widget, so don't worry if you see a 5x2 or 3x3 size — you can go anywhere from 1x1 to the maximum grid size on your homescreen.
When you're done, all you have to do is swipe vertically on the first widget to switch to the next one(s). A dot indicator appears on the right, letting you know how many widgets you're circling between.
The feature is clearly in beta, though, as I ran across multiple bugs. In some instances, some widgets refused to load their content; I had this issue with Google Calendar, Keep, and Gmail, then it mysteriously fixed itself.
But the most annoying limitation is the incompatibility with scrolling widgets. In the example on the right below, you can see me adding a scrolling Series Guide widget on top of the clock. It works, until I start scrolling up and down but fail to trigger the stack gesture, leaving me unable to switch back to the clock widget.
Update: As reader Mitch pointed out, swiping up/down toward the left or right side of the stack triggers the switch when you're using scrolling widgets. Swiping in the middle scrolls the currently-visible widget. You can see the different interactions in the GIF below on the right — follow the white circle to see where exactly I was swiping. However, this behavior might be buggy too, as it didn't work on my Pixel 5 when I first tried it, and required a fresh install and app data clearing to trigger the expected widget switch.
Left: It's awesome when it works. Right: Different zones for scrolling or switching widgets.
This is a clever solution to the gesture interference, as one of the most useful stacks would be ones where you put your different inboxes, note/task lists, or calendars on top of each other, to avoid duplicate widgets. Most of these require vertical scrolling, and it's nice to be able to pile them up to keep your homescreen as clean as possible.
• 🆕: Introducing widget stacks! Layer widgets on top of each other, and page through them with a vertical flick! Select "Widget Stack" from Action Launcher's widget list and get stacking!
• 🆕: 2021 Supporter Badge! This year's bonus goodies include 6 awesome wallpapers!