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.
This is definitely a case of ‘nice app, shame about the widget. This is essentially a barcode scanning app, and one of the best available to boot. Every option you would want included is there, and its all done with style and speed. The widget, displaying a small barcode icon and a search field is actually nothing more than a shortcut to the search screen of the app. The only difference between just putting an application shortcut on your home screen is that this saves you a couple of clicks. Maybe that’s all that could ever be done with such a service as a widget, but if you look at the widget on the above screen, it doesn’t look like a shortcut does it? Why have a fake search field?
Now this is something special. This widget only actually takes up a tiny amount of space on your home screen, but when you touch it, it unfolds into a circular app launcher. This can be customised in dozens of ways. You can assign apps, contacts or net bookmarks to it, have different shapes for the launcher, change the icon the label, and even the extent to which it blurs the background when activated. This is what makes widgets so special, the ability to fundamentally change the way you navigate around your device, and to do it in some style. It is even possible to have several at once on your screen, each with its own custom set of actions. Highly recommended.
Pulse News Reader
Pulse News Reader is one of the most attractive and useful news reader on the Android platform, and it’s widget is no different. As you can see you can choose a news source for the widget to use, here I have added the RSS of some awesome site that shall remain nameless. The widget then automatically puts the headline of the feed items underneath a cropped image from the feed. It looks really nice and professional. There is also the option of a large or small widget, and the only real disappointment is the fact that it only allows you to choose one feed source at a time. It would be nice to have a selection of feeds scrolling along in order. Perhaps in a future update, but all the same a really good looking news reader widget.