10 widgets that make your Android more functional

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| January 12, 2011

I've said it time and time again. The best thing about Android is the unique ability to customize it to no end. One of the customization options that makes your device more functional is the use of widgets. They offer quick access to information and settings changes. There are many widgets that come stock on an Android device, and depending on the manufacturer and which custom user interface you're rocking, you may have some extras. I've been using Android for well over a year now, and here are some of my favorite and the most useful, third-party widgets that I've come across:

1. System Info Widget by Jason Calhoun ($0.99 in Market)

This is just a reference widget that keeps you up-to-date on your device information. If can give you information like battery temperature and percentage, SD card storage left, etc. With several customization options, there's sure to be a look that fits your needs. There are items you can add to the System Info Widget to toggle settings like in Power Control, but they aren't very responsive. I use this primarily for battery statistics and the quick reboot option.

2. Android Agenda Widget by Everybody all the time ($1.96 or free in Market)

I'm always needing to be reminded of due dates, or what I should be doing and when, etc. Android Agenda Widget offers up a nice solution, though if you're not using a launcher replacement like Launcher Pro or ADW, the widget will not scroll (it is stationary). In any case, the paid and free version come with 11 widget sizes and a library of custom themes and skins.

3. Beautiful Widgets by LevelUp Studio ($2.04 in Market)

Some of the best looking widgets to come to Android have been made by HTC and included in their Sense UI. Beautiful Widgets does an awesome job replicating some of those widgets and offering more customization. When you buy this widget pack, included is a library of custom themes you can install to both your weather and clock portions of the widgets. There is also a handful of different toggle widgets for easy and quick tweaking of settings. Beautiful Widgets is one of the more popular set of widgets and is well worth the $2.

4. Extended Controls by Honolulu Team ($0.99 in Market)

My favorite stock Android widget is Power Control. It allows you to toggle some of the most important connections and settings straight from your homescreen. However, it lacks customization options and some very important things settings that people would like to add. Extended Controls offers limitless customization options and allows you to toggle nearly all important settings quickly and easily, while adding a little spice to your homescreen.

5. Minimalistic Text by Devmil (Free in Market)

If a big fancy clock like Beautiful Widgets is just too much or you feel it clutters your homescreen, Minimalistic Text may be for you. There aren't a lot of beautiful looking clock widgets in Market, but this is one that definitely sticks out. It's very minimal and simplistic, and it's all text, no numbers. It's a very interesting concept with several ways to customize it to your liking. This is one I've only  come across recently, and it's definitely one of my favorite.

6. Pure Grid calendar widget by Francois DESLANDES ($2.04 in Market)

One of the better Sense UI widgets is the Calendar widget. It's by far my favorite. The first time I moved away from my first Sense UI wearin' Android device, I set out to look for a comparable calendar widget. Pure Grid is what I found at the time and what I've stuck with. It has a very large set of options you can tweak (more than I really care to dig into at times), and a library of custom skins that you can apply.

7. Plume Premium by LevelUp Studio ($2.73 in Market)

I'm an addict, an admitted Twitter addict. Having my tweets available from my homescreen and being able to compose a tweet from there is important. I've tried several different Twitter clients that offer widgets, and Plume (previously named Touiteur) is by far my favorite. It's simple, it looks great, and it feeds my addiction.

8. AudioManager Widget/Pro by Smart Android Apps, LLC ($1.99 or free in Market)

If you hate having to navigate to Settings just to tweak your sound settings, AudioManager is probably what you've been looking for. It isn't anything fancy, but it gets the job done and looks pretty cool while it does it. When you tap the widget, it quickly brings up a page where you can tweak all of your volume controls. AudioManager is essentially just a shortcut to a third-party volume control application, but at least it looks cool, right?

9. BatteryLife by CurveFish (Free in Market)

While a few of these widgets (System Info, Extended Controls, etc.) offer a battery display, sometimes I like something simple. BatteryLife by CurveFish is a clean looking widget that offers a little extra info on the battery. Simple and free.

10. SportsTap by Mobile1Sports (Free in Market)

I'm not a huge sports fan, but I love some soccer and hockey (GO CANES!!). Sports Tap is a full-fledged application, but the widget serves as a shortcut to live game info and score updates. It also lets you scroll through upcoming games and past games for score reference. It offers services for NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, NCAA Football, and NCAA Men's Basketball. Did I mention it's free?

Many of these widgets are paid, but some of them do have lite versions. Even if there is a fully-featured free version of one of these widgets that you really like, you should consider buying the full version. Developers put a lot of time and effort into making Android even more awesome and they deserve it. With that being said, these are only a few of my favorite widgets. There are thousands more in Android Market, so I'm sure I've overlooked some very nice ones. What are some of your favorite widgets? Have you tried any of these? Let us know in the comment section below!