Widgets to Grab
One thing that truly sets Google's Android mobile OS apart from rival software like Apple's iOS is its ability to use home-screen "widgets," or applications that sit on your Android device's home panels to display related information so you never have to open those apps, unless you want additional details.
Not all Android applications have widgets, but the best ones do-some great Android apps even offer multiple widgets. Keep clicking for a list of 19 of the best Android apps with widgets, most of which won't cost you a dime. And for information on how to enable widgets on your Android device read, "Seven Ways to Get Around Your Android Phone Faster". Then check out my Android super guide for a variety of general Google-Phone tips and tricks, how-to tutorials and much more.
Beautiful Widgets for Android
Beautiful Widgets offers Android users some of the best-looking home-screen widgets available, for a variety of features and functionality. For example, Beautiful Widgets presents multiple battery-status widgets, as well as customizable clock- and weather-widgets, all of which come in different styles and sizes so you can position them wherever you want on your device's home screens for a truly unique look and feel. The app isn't free, but it packs a lot of functionality, and it is well worth the few dollars it costs.
Android Market Widget
Google's Android Market app store has a widget of its own that displays popular applications on your home screen, so you never miss a quality app. The Android Market widget also cycles through noteworthy apps so you don't need to open the Market at all to peruse new software-unless you want more info on a specific app or to download one.
(Read, "Android Market Tips: How to Boost Your Google App Store Experience" for advice on getting the most out of the Android Market.)
Amazon MP3 for Android Widget
Amazon MP3 for Android boasts numerous functions; it's a music store; an online media-storage locker; and a Web-based music player, all wrapped into one great application. And Amazon MP3 also offers a cool Android widget that lets you see what Amazon Cloud Drive music is playing at a given time. It also lets you pause and start tracks and skip back and forth between song selections. (For more information, read "Amazon Cloud Drive: 7 Key Facts")
Google Search for Android Widget
The Google Search for Android home-screen widget gives you fast and easy access to Google's popular search engine and to Android-Market app-searches. Since it's located directly on your home screen, you never have to launch a Web browser to perform a search. The Android widget also offers a cool voice-search feature so you can avoid typing altogether if you're clumsy with your thumbs.
Newsweek Mobile for Android Widget
Newsweek Mobile is a great way to stay up to date on current events without having to open an application and scroll through content. You can customize the news widget to display the topics (such as business, technology, health) and stories that most interest you. The widgets also come in small and large sizes, for easy home-screen customization. And you can assign as many of them as you want to a home-screen panel.
ESPN ScoreCenter for Android Widget
The ESPN ScoreCenter for Android widget lets you select your favorite teams from a variety of sports and leagues, including Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, National Football League and National Basketball Association, and then receive up-to-date schedules and live- scoring information, all on your home screen. You can cycle through home-screen-based game-listings so you don't have to open the app, unless you seek additional information.
Wireless-Radio Widgets for Android
All Android devices ship with a number of "native" widgets from the hardware-maker. Many popular Motorola devices, including the Atrix 4G, and others from more handset-makers offer valuable widgets that let you toggle your various wireless radios on and off without ever having to open your settings menu. Assign Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and Airplane Mode widgets to your home-screen, and you'll be able to instantly activate or deactivate your radios.
YouTube for Android Widget
Viral video junkies will appreciate the YouTube for Android Widget, which lets you search for specific videos from your home screen, as well as see a selection of new or noteworthy videos and thumbnail images without ever opening the YouTube application. You can also use a "quick-record" feature to rapidly open your handheld's video camera for video capture and then upload your clips to YouTube.
IMDb Movies & TV for Android Widget
Android-toting movie buffs can stay up to date on all the latest happenings in Hollywood and at the local box office via the IMDb app and widget. Featuring a rotating selection of news and reviews, the IMDb widget shows images and text related to popular films and provides one-click access to more details and application features, including popular trailers and local theater show times.
The Coupons App for Android Widget
Pinch-pennies like a pro with The Coupons App for Android widget, which displays a variety of deals from popular retailers on your Android home screen. Simply click the app for additional information on each deal, and you can choose to enter in location information for access to local deals via the application and/or e-mail alerts.
Foursquare for Android Widget
Foursquare for Android lets users check-in to their favorite retailers, restaurants and other locations for access to deals, to unlock badges for certain achievements and to compete with friends for the most "points." The foursquare widget makes it simple to find and check-in to the most popular nearby spots by displaying information on how many people are at a particular location and your distance from it, along with a street address and the number of "tips" left by other foursquare users in the past. You can also quickly check-in to those popular places from the widget.
Poynt for Android Widgets
Uber search-application Poynt offers Android users two very cool widgets: One for quick access to the closest gas stations with the lowest prices and another for a list of the top 10 movies by box-office gross. The gas-prices widget takes up an entire home-screen, but if you've got the real estate, it provides you with a detailed list of gas prices and station-location info. And the movies widget shows a related thumbnail image and box-office gross numbers for each individual movie.
BattStatt Free for Android Widget
BattStatt Free for Android is a simple widget that shows your device's battery-life percentage in a variety of shapes, sizes and styles. It's valuable because the default Android OS only display battery life in graphic form, so you get clearer information from BattStatt. Clicking the BattStatt widget provides details on battery health, voltage, temperature, battery type and more.
Seesmic for Android Widget
Plenty of Android social networking apps exist to help you stay on top of your Twitter and Facebook accounts. But Seesmic is one of the best options, thanks to an intuitive and simple user interface and cool home-screen widgets. Seesmic's widgets let you read through your various followers' updates and post messages without ever opening the app. And you can create separate widgets for Twitter and Facebook so that you have dedicated home-screen access to both services.
MLB.com At Bat Lite Widget
The MLB.com At Bat widget for Android is the perfect way to feed the most obsessive of baseball fans' needs for instant scores and stats. The At Bat widget provides live scoring information on all MLB games in progress, along with schedules and standings-information for games that have ended or have yet to begin. Scroll through all of the daily games without leaving your home screen and then just click a game of interest for additional details.
Android Music Widget
Any and all Android owners who use their devices as digital music players should assign the default Android Music widget to a home screen. It provides information on what song and/or artist is playing at a given time, as well as quick access to the music collection, a play/pause button and a skip-track forward button. (Read my Android Super Guide for additional Android tips, tricks, tutorials and more.)
SoundHound for Android Widget
We've all been there: A song comes on the radio and immediately sticks in your mind like a tack in corkboard. You need to know the song name, but you don't recognize the band. No worries, thanks to the SoundHound Android widget. Just click the orange "Tap Here" button on the widget, hold your device close to the audio source and the application delivers song- and band-names, so you can easily obtain that new favorite tune.
AppBrain App Market for Android Widget
The AppBrain App Market is a great way to find new Android apps and recommend apps to friends. The AppBrain Android widget makes it fast and easy to "sync" your on-device apps with the service for new recommendations. A quick-search widget-feature lets you instantly launch AppBrain search to help find specific apps of interest.
Dictionary.com for Android Widget
Dictionary.com's Android app provides a ton of cool, digital-dictionary features. One of my favorites is the Word of the Day home-screen widget, which displays a new mouthful-of-a-word each day. The widget displays the daily word, pronunciation information and a definition, all on your home screen. You can click the widget for access to more details, including audio pronunciation and additional definitions, where available.
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