Improve your Android home screen with these widgets

Widgets – the boast of the Android user that has been rubbed in the face of iOS users since it was introduced.

There’s no denying the usefulness of the widget; they drastically reduce the number of taps to access functions deep within apps all while making your home page gorgeous and personalised.

Whether you’re a widget-wizard, or even if your home screen still looks like an iOS one (littered with apps and apps), you’ve come to the right place. This is a page of suggestions for inspiration (or a checklist) of essential widgets that beautify your phone and make it even more functional and convenient.

CLOCK

We begin with the basics – a clock to replace the teensy little time-teller on the top right of your display. You don’t want to have to squint all the time to check the time.

You also want to have quick access to the various clock/watch options at a tap, which is what most widgets offer. Check out the default ones on your Android device, or have a look at some of these we’ve sieved out.

Digital Clock Xperia – Something clean and simple, without too much clutter. It tells you what you need to know: the time, date and day, and the weather if you need it. Tap on it to get quick access to alarms, watches and other features.

DashClock Widget – Perfect if you’re looking for a clock that offers a bit more. This one tells you the weather, text messages and calls, all while being pretty customisable and presentable.

DigiClock Widget or UCCW – you’re not looking for minimal designs, but something that screams YOU. Lots of colour, creativity and general loudness happening here.

NOTES AND REMINDERS

Often, we don’t even remember we put reminders in the reminders app. We need it stuck in our faces somewhere to catch us before we forget. Widgets like these are lifesavers and can save an awkward situation (or heartbreak).

Google Keep – we like this for its versatility. Pin up notes in any form – checklists, sketches, reminders, full text – it’s up to you. For a widget, its UI is great too, as you can simply scroll down through your notes rather than have to pin them up individually or toggle through.Being Google, it’s also synced across all your devices and clean and easy to use. The quick “add note” feature on the widget itself also means you can quickly jot things down without having to search for the app and open it up.

You know that feeling of great regret when you tell a friend you can make a date, only to realise you’ve got something else that’s planned? Much like the note pad, a calendar widget is brilliant for being a constant reminder of your schedule, saving you some embarrassment. Unconsciously, glancing over the calendar helps to internalize some of these appointments too, so you’ll be familiar with your week by Tuesday.

Google Calendar – As much as we hate to say it, Google’s sunk its roots everywhere – it’s hard to say no to its seamless integration of apps across multiple devices. If you have enough space on screen, it’ll neatly display your appointments and schedule in various colours that’s intuitive and easy to catch at a glance.

aCalendar – this one earns its place thanks to the large amount of details it stuffs into a little widget. You get to see an overview of the week, including specific timings for appointments and all the specific highlights and reminders you may attach to each appointment. This is detail even Google Calendar doesn’t manage to cram into a widget.

SPOTIFY

Quick access to your music saves you plenty of time, not to mention embarrassment if your music ever plays out loud all of a sudden. Quickly tap pause on the widget and life can resume.

It doesn’t have to be Spotify, but a music app widget sure is handy!

WHATSAPP

No one texts anymore, and Telegram doesn’t have one of these, hence the Whatsapp widget!

Android devices don’t have the privilege of “hard pressing” a conversation to peek at unread messages without blue-ticking. The widget is the next best thing. Instead of opening the chat, you can glance through latest texts on the widget, and your friend will be none the wiser!

Got a friend you text pretty much all the time? Whatsapp lets you add shortcuts to your home screen so you don’t need to access the app and painstakingly search for the contact. Tap on her icon on your home screen and text away!

E-MAIL

Essential for someone who hasn’t made checking emails second-nature. It’s a nightmare when you miss important mails, especially when they’re from your boss, or an offer you had been waiting ages for.

Let it shout at you from the home page with a widget.

Alto – It localises mails from multiple e-mail accounts, so you’ll never miss a message, regardless of how frequently you actually check each individual account.

We’re all for reading news slowly with a discerning eye, but sometimes you just don’t have the time. What we want are the headlines to sound smart and keep up with conversations at work and school (read your mind?)

Get a news widget to quickly scroll through current headlines (all on the home screen) and digest them at a glance. Want to know more? Tap on it to access the specific story right away!

While everyone prefers different news outlets, we’ve picked out the ones with widgets that really stand out.

BBC News – neat, consolidated and fast. You can also choose which category of news you want displayed, so you can sound like a real specialist in a certain field (we’ve got ours locked on Technology, but don’t tell anyone)

Flipboard – It isn’t the best widget thanks to poorly designed UI that requires you to click “next” for the following headline, but it looks good, and you get access to stories from countless categories and sources.

Straits Times – for more local news, where else but the Straits Times. It’s got a pretty good-looking widget, but similarly requires you to tap “next” – no seamless scrolling that you get on BBC News. We’re also not too keen on its Tweet-styled headlines, but hey, we all need local news.

DEVICE MAINTENANCE

You probably won’t need to download any special apps for these widgets, but you really should set up this widget if your phone supports quick maintenance. It saves you a lot of time troubleshooting deep within the settings app.

Make it a habit to tap “fix” once in a while on your home screen and your device should be decluttered and running smoother than before!

GET A LAUNCHER

Default Android launchers like TouchWiz have a limitation, they don’t allow you to shrink widgets as you please. Most widgets come with certain minimum sizes.

This is where Nova Launcher is your best friend again, giving you the option of shrinking widgets to significantly smaller sizes based on the grid layout set by you. It gives you even more freedom to pack in the widgets you want on a single page.

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