I’m always telling my iOS-loving friends that widgets are where it’s at. Who doesn’t want a useful, informative, productivity-boosting widget right on their homescreen? And then one of my iFriends points to my pretty text-based clock and my minimalist battery meter and says, “Can’t you get that information from the notification bar?”
Er…yeah. Not all widgets are designed purely with productivity in mind. Because the beauty of Android is that you can customize your home screen however you want – you can make it productive, informative, or just really, really pretty. Sure, some people think that iOS is pretty, but it’s all the same pretty. Thanks to aesthetically-minded widget designers, Android can be as pretty (or as minimalist, or as…text-based) as you like.
These widgets may not be super useful, but they can be breathtaking. iOS is the pretty platform? Please.
This is probably the writer in me speaking, but there’s nothing prettier than text. If you prefer words over numbers, Clockr is a cool text-based clock widget that displays the time in writing (think “three thirty two” rather than 3:32). Clockr’s default setting features white text against a transparent background, but it’s fairly customizable – you can change the font color, size, and clock style, and you can add a semi-transparent black background if your wallpaper is otherwise too busy.
Circle Battery Widget
Sure, you can always look to your notification bar to check your phone’s battery status, but that’s boring. Circle Battery Widget basically embodies the pretty widget philosophy: it’s minimalist, modern, and not super practical. This app shows your device’s battery life as a partial circle with a percentage number in the center, and it’s fully customizable, right down to the diameter and thickness of the circle. Although it doesn’t add a ton of functionality that you didn’t already have, it looks awesome in that “custom dashboard” sort of way.
Simple Calendar Widget
Simple Calendar Widget adds a simple, elegant calendar to your home screen. In its default format, the widget displays the current date and upcoming appointments in white text against a semi-transparent black background. It is customizable, though: you can change the font, background color and transparency, and separation line color. You can also switch source calendars and choose how many events to show at a time.
Pretty Binary Clock Widget
There are many binary clock replacement widgets for Android, but most pay little, if any, attention to aesthetics. Pretty Binary Clock Widget is the opposite: It’s a minimalist binary clock with just a couple of customizable features. This simple clock widget displays the time in gray and white binary circles (or blue and white binary squares). You can add a solid background (white or black), and a second “hand” if you prefer a clock with visible movement.
Eye in the Sky Weather
Weather apps are everywhere, but most of them are a bit... blah. What’s nice about Eye in the Sky Weather is that you can customize it to show minimalist line-drawing icons or realistic renderings of the sun and moon. Eye in the Sky Weather gives you several different widget sizes to choose from, including a small, 1-by-1 circle that just shows the temperature. You can get pretty weather transitions from Beautiful Widgets, sure, but you can’t get anything as clean and uncluttered as Eye in the Sky.
If you like Clockr and you want to translate that text-based aesthetic to the rest of your widgets, Minimalist Text is your answer. This widget features several different text-based layouts, including a battery bar that resembles a barcode and a weather widget that spells out the temperature and chance of precipitation. Minimalist Text offers multiple customization options, including a vertical option that looks pretty sweet when displaying the battery bar.
Although Beautiful Widgets has long been touted as one of the best, prettiest catch-all widget apps, its skin market has nothing on HD Widgets. HD Widgets may not have “beautiful” in the name, but its widgets are elegant, gorgeous, and customizable. This widget pack features a variety of semi-transparent backgrounds, realistic weather icons, and high-resolution clocks. Different-sized bars can display time, date, weather, and toggle buttons for quickly switching Android features on and off (such as Wi-Fi and Airplane Mode).
Ultimate Custom Widget (UCCW)
Ultimate Custom Widget (UCCW) is exactly what it sounds like: the ultimate, customizable widget. It’s not a collection of basic widgets, like HD Widgets, nor is it a single clock/weather/calendar widget. Instead, it’s a widget that you make completely on your own – you can add items like clocks, weather, images, phone functions, shapes, and text. Then you customize each item, right down to the position, size, angle, color, and alignment. It’s a great tool for people who are looking for a totally custom option, but it’s also a platform for designers to show off their custom widgets. If you’d rather not do it yourself just yet, you can download gorgeous custom widgets from other designers – some of my favorites include Lines Clock, Minimal Multi, and Circulus.