This story was originally published and last updated .
Widgets have long been one of the more unique features of the Android operating system, allowing your various homescreen panels to be more than just a grid of little icons. You can set aside space for functional (and occasionally, actually attractive!), dynamic tools that do everything from control music playback or show you to the weather, to monitoring your phone's CPU and data usage stats. But as widgets have generally declined in popularity, it's become a little tougher to find ones that remain actively supported and, at the least, don't openly clash with modern Android's design aesthetic. Here are 11 of our favorites.
With everything going on in the world lately, it can be hard to keep up with it all. Google News can be great help there, with the app supporting features like curated stories, daily briefings, and a dark theme. Google even added support for displaying content in two languages together within the feed last year. But it's not all good news, because the in-app translation feature is currently borked.
The venerable Egon Spangler once said, "print is dead." The statement may have been premature, but today it feels a little more on point because Google has begun the process of retiring its print-replica magazine service. Emails are going out to Google News users with active subscriptions to inform them that full refunds are being processed and there will be no new issues coming.
Google has just introduced a new audio news briefing format for Assistant called "Your News Update." When you ask Assistant to tell you the news, instead of playing a series of whole podcasts that you've chosen, it will bring together bits and pieces of produced audio from a number of sources that you've curated. If you want to try it out, just go to the settings menu within Google Assistant, hit "News," then tap on your "News playlist format" to make the change.
Back in March, we reported Google's Discover feed was able to support content in two distinct languages, providing relevant updates to users who spoke different tongues. The company is taking its multilingual abilities even further, as the News app can now handle content in two different languages.
Google Lens is a popular and nifty app with several powerful functions: search with your camera, translate text you see, identify objects, and more. Starting today, it's being upgraded with a new feature called "style ideas" that's meant to give you "outfit inspiration from around the web."
Google has been working quite a bit on its news offerings over the past year. An overhauled Google News app launched a year ago, and has continued to get updates since, but the News tab in desktop Google Search has has had the same design for ages. That will soon change though, as Google has announced a redesign for the tab.
Google News is a good news aggregator, and it just got a little bit better. Version 5.12 brings a number of small tweaks, including a "full coverage" button, relocation of some shortcuts, and an article indicator. There's nothing major to speak of, but refinement is always nice to see.
In September 2018, the European Parliament approved new copyright legislation that could change the way the internet works forever. One aspect of the new directive would force websites to pay for snippets they use from an external source, and Google is wisely already testing a stripped-down version of its news search results in anticipation of the law change.
Google made some big changes back in May with the launch of Google News, bringing both Play Magazines and the News & Weather app together in a new format and completely redesigned app. A few months later, Google announced several new automatic features for the Google News app that would make it even more data-efficient. Unfortunately, something went wrong and many users found that the app had taken to downloading multiple gigabytes of data over cellular connections and racking up huge overages. While those bugs seem to have been fixed, the latest update includes signs that Google may be putting countermeasures in place to help prevent similar bugs in the future.