Every weekend, we will be taking a look at a few Android Widgets, which for some are the star of Google’s mobile operating system.
They are certainly one of the big differentiating factors between Android and some of the other big players out there, but they are also not infallible. Like other mobile apps, they still need to be well made and intelligently designed, so we will take several each week and let you know whether they are worth your time and money.
Below you can see a screenshot of this weeks widgets running on a Dell Streak with Android 2.2.
Tweetcaster for Twitter
Tweetcaster is one of the very best Twitter clients available for Android, and it also has a rather spiffy widget to go with it. As you can see from the screen above, the widget allows you to tweet straight from the widget, check your timeline and flick between tweets at will. It’s really good looking as well, and is a great validation for using Twitter on a mobile phone as opposed to the web. It’s great to be able to do most of the regular Twitter actions without having to boot an app up, and unlike many of the Twitter widgets I have used, it has never frozen up on me or displayed any bugs whatsoever. The widget comes in two sizes, and is available with any of three supplied themes. If you have multiple Twitter accounts, then it’s even possible to have two widgets, each with one account, running at once. Outstanding Twitter client and widget.
We have gone through a couple of news feed widgets recently here for the weekly widget, many of which are able to use many different news sources. Here we have a widget that just uses one, although it is a big one, CNN. The widget is actually ok, and is unassuming and elegant on the homescreen, without the over the top gaudiness I was expecting. You can select which section of CNN you want the widget to draw the feed from, and there is a pretty wide variety of choices on there, although there could be a few more if truth be told. The widget then scrolls through the feed, and touching a news item brings up the story with a photo, although disappointingly it also shows you an ad bang square in the middle of the story. There is also no way of flicking through the feeds on the widget, so you are going to have to boot up the app to do that, I would have thought that forward and rewind buttons would be a standard these days, but they are missing here. An above average widget at best.
Here is an interesting one. Many people have task killers on their Android devices, as Android has a habit of running a lot of apps in the background without telling you, which affects performance and battery life, but if you want a less permanent solution to freeing up a little memory, then history Eraser could be the solution. History Eraser does just that, it deletes all your browser, search, application history and more. I found that, while not as effective as a task killer, using this did improve performance somewhat, so it is a worthwhile alternative. The widget is not as good as I had hoped. I wanted the widget to remember all my deletion choices and simply do them whenever I touched it, but alas all the widget does is act as a shortcut to the app. Actually, the widget is a big letdown, as this could have been an excellent feature.