May 06 AT 2:09 AM Taylor Wimberly 9 Comments

Cupcake Widgets Preview For Android 1.5

There are so many new features of Android 1.5 that it is hard to pick a favorite.  Desktop widgets have been around since the T-Mobile G1 shipped, but now developers have the new AppWidget Framework to play with.  Before this recent update, developers had to target their widgets for a specific home replacement app like aHome or Open Home and there was issues with security.  Now that Google has released the Widget API, we will see a flood of new widgets hit the market over the coming weeks and months.

Dilbert, Binary Clock, Engadget RSS, Battery, and Note Widgets.

Dilbert, Binary Clock, Engadget RSS, Battery, and Note Widgets.

Included in the next Android build are two new packaged widgets.  Users can now add a music player and calendar widget to their desktop.  The music player widget allows basic control over the Music application.  You are given play, pause, and skip controls.  If you tap the widget, it launches the full Music app so you can create and edit play lists.

The other new widget is a calendar window that displays your Google Calendar events.  Again, tapping the widget launches the full Calendar application.  I have placed this widget on my main home screen and it’s a nice reminder of my upcoming agenda.  The full list of official widgets includes:

  • Analog Clock
  • Calendar
  • Music Player
  • Picture Frame
  • and Search

A quick search of the Market will return many additional free widgets that you can use to customize your desktop.  There are widgets for weather, alernate style clocks, comic strips, RSS feeds, notes, and more.  Almost any application can be turned into a widget and I’m sure we will see just that happen.

Retro Clock, Weather, Calendar, RSS, and Music widgets.

Retro Clock, Weather, Calendar, RSS, and Music widgets.

The main benefit of the new widgets is easier access to information.  Instead of having to launch an application and wait for it to load, you can view the information you need directly from the home screen.  I particularly enjoyed the new weather widget from Jeff Sharkey.  When you add the widget to your desktop you can choose from a 1×1 or 2×1 size.  As you add the widget, Google services will automatically detect your location and pull up the latest weather info.  Like most of the other widgets, a quick tap expands the widget area to reveal a 5-day forecast.

Users wanting to test these new widgets out, will have to wait for the Android 1.5 update.  With the recent upgrade, developers now have to define the minimum SDK version that the application is compatible with.  If an app or widget is designed for Android 1.5 and up, then it will not display on the Market to Android 1.1 users.

If you are interested in the upcoming widgets for Android 1.5, check out the contest Justin is running over at Android-DLs.com.  He currently has 15 developers who have entered the contest and will be releasing widgets soon.  If you would like to contribute, you can make a donation to the prize pool or post your idea for any widget you would like to see.

cupcakewidgets_540

Will widgets overtake themes in numbers of uploads?

Taylor is the founder of Android and Me. He resides in Dallas and carries the Samsung Galaxy S 4 and HTC One as his daily devices. Ask him a question on Twitter or Google+ and he is likely to respond. | Ethics statement

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  • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

    Wow, right as I post this they release an update for the Sticky Note widget.

    It now supports speech to text entry which works great. There is also the ability to add events directly to the calendar from this widget.

    Also, anyone think it’s odd people are releasing RSS widgets for other people’s blogs and then including Admob in the widget. I don’t think the blog owners would appreciate devs trying to make money off their content, but maybe they don’t mind.

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  • Steve

    Jess Sharkeys forecast widget is not available on the market right? Downloaded it from his website but it wouldn’t work, oh well

    • http://androidandme.com Taylor Wimberly

      Yes, I got the weather widget from JEFF’s website. You must have Android 1.5 installed for it to work.

  • anonymous_coward

    Pretty soon the “3 screens” limitation of the home application will become very annoying!!

    • nEx.Software

      I agree. I’m surprised they didn’t make it user customizable and allow people to choose how many screens they want. I think these Home Replacements do that right?.

  • Nick

    I love widgets, they’re one of my favorite new features of 1.5. I agree with the post above, even with folders, the three screen limit needs to be upped (without having to use a home screen replacement.) I stopped using Open Home because of the soft keyboard and widget support.

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  • ed

    i still dont understand what would be the benefit to having root or if i should even try and get it. and i love the 1.5 update as well but i am real curious what is the fuzz about this root thing? thank you.