Widgets for Android – the essential list

essential widgets for Android

So you want to install some widgets on your Android smartphone but are not sure which ones will help you out and which ones will, well, just occupy the precious screen estate. I’ve been testing so many options and here’s my definite list of must have widgets followed by the “optional stuff,” which I don’t use but know some people who love ‘em. Without further ado, let’s roll…

1. GTasks
One of the reasons I’m using an Android smartphone rather than the iPhone is that the latter doesn’t allow me to see my tasks without starting some app. With GTasks, you get to see all of your upcoming tasks at glance, right on the homescreen. Tasks are, as expected, synchronized with Google Tasks, allowing you to manage them from your computer. I also use GTasks as my shopping list.

2. SmoothCalendar
This tiny widget shows few of your upcoming calendar entries. You can choose which calendars it will look into and which calendar app to start. It’s so simple, so small and I love it.

3. Evernote
As a big Evernote fan I like having all my notes quickly accessible from the homescreen. With a single tap, you can start an audio, image or text note; or access all of your existing notes.

4. Free Power Widget
Turn off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi when you don’t need them to conserve the battery life. With this handy widget, you can easily toggle your radio connections, GPS, screen brightness and so on.

5. Colornote
It’s not Evernote but for some daily notes it does the job, making the top notes visible with no need to start some application. It’s made for those things you don’t need tasks set – like remember some good book or movie a friend suggested.

That’s the essential list and now for folks who want to use additional homescreens, here’s a list of non-essential, yet handy widgets some of which may be essential for you:

1. Fancy Widgets
HTC Sense-like clock and weather widgets. Weather is all nice, but it can drain your battery by connecting to the server throughout the day. Speaking of weather, Fancy Widgets is far from the only option with pretty much every major weather forecast provider offering its own app.

2. Touch Calendar widget
The GCal-styled calendar application is very handy and I love it. The premium version comes with a widget that will occupy entire screen but you’ll get to see more of your upcoming appointments and events you care about. If that’s something you want – go for it.

3. News widgets
I’m not sure which news source you like the most, but there are quite a few options to choose from. Major media companies all have their Android apps some of which offer widgets. Then there are third-party options like Pulse and Google Reader that aggregate news from more sources. Again this could be a battery drainer.

4. Social widgets
There are multiple social widgets, some of which are made by the social networks themselves like Facebook and Twitter, and other made by third parties, handset makers included (HTC, Samsung, Motorola). These will all connect to the Internet servers but hey – something’s gotta give if you want to keep up with the modern Internet. ;)

5. Favorite contacts widgets
You can choose from multiple options like People Widget, Photo Contacts Widgets and Contacts Widget to be able to quickly access (call or send a message) to the people you contact the most. I don’t use this, but few friends like the capability.

And that wraps it up. Have I missed something? Is there some widget you find essential? Don’t hesitate to add your two cents in the comment form below. ;)

  • http://twitter.com/snidely1459 Snidely

    I find Elixir to be a great home screen widget.  It allows you to set a short cut for nearly every phone function.  I use two lines; one to control the wifi, GPS, Bluetooth and the second line for app short cuts to email, calendar, whatsapp, etc.  Fancy Widget used to be better.  The new version is not as good as the old free version was. I also recommend the Worldmate and Tripit widgets for the frequent travelers.

  • Geojameson

    What is that widget in the picture that shows week 51?

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