One of the best design choices Google made for Android is to allow widgets on the home screen. This took on additional significance when Android gained the ability a few versions back to have so many multiple, customizable home screens available. Widgets are tiny applets that sit on the home screen, displaying important information for the user and often providing a means to interact with that information. The Android Market is full of widgets, and these are the top 5 free ones I’ve encountered. Note that new widgets appear often, so this list only reflects the current crop.
Android Agenda Widget. This jewel provides a window into the user’s calendar, displaying a lot of information in a small space. The agenda can aggregate events from multiple calendars. The display can be customized in every way. In fact, there are more configurable settings than much bigger programs. This is really a collection of widgets, all of different sizes so you can choose the one that fits the screen space available. The developer has a donate button which helps support the effort; the widget is the same, though, donation or not.
BatteryLife. Keeping up with the phone’s battery can be an obsession for some folks. This widget has you covered, if you’re one of those, with a complete view of remaining battery life, presented with as much detail as desired. If you enjoy watching the actual voltage in use, this widget is for you.
vizBattery. If the previous widget is overkill, and it is for me, then vizBattery is for you. This takes no more space on the home screen than a program’s icon, yet gives a graphical display of battery life remaining on the phone. Tapping the battery icon gives a popup screen that shows full technical information about the battery, and also provides a one-tap link to display settings.
Ringer Toggle. This widget provides a 3-way toggle for the phone’s sound. Hit once to enter vibrate-only mode, again for totally silent, and once again to restore audio. The widget is the size of an app icon, and the icon changes to reflect what audio mode is selected. It is a nice addition to any Android phone; once you have it you wonder how you did without it.
Data Counter. With unlimited data plans rapidly becoming a thing of the past, this widget is a good tool for keeping track of data usage. It sits on the home screen and keeps you informed of accumulated data usage at a glance. It can be set to give you a warning if you approach your data cap, if you’re unlucky enough to have one of those. Those of us with unlimited plans should keep this widget in mind, as it seems our unlimited days will not last forever.
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