Applications have come a long way. They are not just a gimmick you show to your friends anymore. It isn’t just a way to show off how the calculator you bought is better than the one that comes standard on a smartphone. While they’ve kept their basic functionality at their core, the multitude of apps out there all showcase the ability of remarkably intelligent individuals out there, creating diverse and robust software for everyone to use as they see fit. And for a platform like Android, where your home screens can be filled with icons and widgets, it opens up a whole new usage model.

And, let’s face it; widgets have come a long way, too. Back when they were first unveiled for Android; they were basically just portals to your app, but in a different way than the traditional application icon. Sure, you could see what was going on with the app, or you could see the first few messages sitting in your email inbox. But other than that, a widget’s personality was pretty thin. That’s changed over the years, and the widgets have become something of an app in their own right, even if, at the very least, they are still just a portal to the real application.

Which has me thinking: do people actually use widgets? I know that from personal use, I tend to put an application’s widget, if the app actually has one, on one of my home screens at least for a little while. I like to see where the widget development is at, especially considering that in the public domain, a lot of widgets have the same functionality. The news applications, along with a few sports apps out there, will tell you a brief rundown of the news happening now, but the functionality is pretty limited. That isn’t surprising, of course, but it’s the truth.

When I look at other people’s Android phones, I honestly don’t see a lot of widgets. Especially not on the people out there who managed to get their hands on a stock Android device. The same goes for folks who have rooted their Android phone and have put a stock ROM on there. Widgets don’t seem to play a big role in the Android user base, at least not from what I’ve seen, or from what people have told me of their usage. Applications do, of course, but the widget part of it seems to be a novelty that falls off the scope a few days, or even hours, after initial usage.

I don’t think that widgets are a gimmick, per se, but I think that it’s a feature that isn’t used to its full potential. Even close, really. That may have something to do with the fact that widgets don’t have a lot of functionality, especially considering their “face value” nature only means that there can only be so much functionality. Or, it could be that using an app, in its full-screen version, is just more worthwhile to most users. That would make sense to me, especially like the social networking apps where diving into the app and its full functionality just seems like the way to do it.

But, it could be different for other proprietary user interfaces, too. I know that when I was using a lot of HTC Sense-based devices, like the original Hero, I was using widgets all the time. And I think I can say the same thing for devices running TouchWiz, at least for those who don’t root and add a custom ROM.  Widgets are a big part of custom user interfaces, and a of them have a “real-time” and scrollable approach, so their functionality may be a bit deeper than those other stock versions. But, I’ve noticed that those proprietary widgets, coupled with the manufactured software, can slow the whole show down over time, so that seems like a double-edged sword.

I think widgets are something that could really, really be useful at some point in the future. But for now, I’m not surprised at all that I rarely see them in use on personal devices, and why only Google’s Android has jumped on the widget way of life. Will it change in time? I sure hope so. Widgets that showcase more functionality would be awesome to use.

Don't forget to VOTE! Each week, PhoneDog Fans vote for their #1 smartphone in the Official Smartphone Rankings. Vote now and contribute to the industry's most relevant weekly ranking charts

Related posts

Comments & discussions  

120 Reactions to this post

"Do you use widgets on your Android phone?"

Please limit your reaction to 140 characters or use comments for a longer reply :)
Thanks for your participation! :)

Mr_SoloDoelo On my GNexus home screen I have these widgets: stock calendar, official Google Reader ticker, Pandora, Google Music, Audible, Beautiful Weather, Circle Battery, Gmail, power control widget, official facebook, and official Twitter. In the rest of the spaces I have folders with my most-used apps. I have one screen that's blank.
Stanley Solsky That's just one of the reasons Android is better than IOS. I use four different widgets. Maybe the IOS on the iphone/ipad 17 will get them. The Facebook widget is a drainer though.
Allwyn Avalos not really
Mike Cooper Weather and the music player are the only ones I use. A Facebook widget saves no time than the Facebook app
Frank Porter Wow, I had thought for sure this was another boneheaded question asked by Taylor Martin. Well all be damned.
Nick Kathrein Do I breathe air? YES!
Jason Jeong Yeah course
Brandon Worley Barely...why drain ur battery needlessly...if u want to see Facebook use the app etc
Jacob Bessey Yes I love widgets
Jesse Bryant Just the standard clock/weather one lol.
Marc Barbieri I have always found most widgets to be pointless but I do use the Beautiful Widgets weather/clock and any other kind of widget to toggle on and off bluetooth, wifi, etc. Other than those, it is just as easy to go into whatever app you need
Nathaniel Hull love widgets.... and they def dont make a battery dif... just control ur syncs brainers
Ethan Shrago That's one of the reasons Android is better than IOS. No duh I use widgets!
Ian Payne i sure do c:
Brian Tarango I use all that I can find
Syedul Islam No.. They use up all the battery.. Some of them tend to lag and crash.. Iphone all the way!! :D
Carol Dudley-Bowen Of course. And for those who say all Android phones have widgets, not true. For those running older OS they don't all have widget capabilities.
Taynia Dejesus I love widgets
Dan J. Quiñones 10 widgets on 7 homescreens. LPP widgets and some app-native widgets..
Scott Bitters No battery drainers most are overrated
John Zanatta I use live tiles. But yes, previously I used a widget or two on my main home screen.
Carlos Techman Hellz yeah one of the reasons I think android is better
Roger Rodriguez We are so widgetized!!! LOL!
Anonymous Yes, on Homescreen and Widgetlocker.
Anthony V Cannata Yes I love them
Paul Alexandru No,i like my iPhone they way it is
Mark Strong I use beautiful weather and Bluetooth
Cezzar Micu of course i do... it's what sets the android apart :) although, i must say that i use third-party widgets instead. usually, those that come with go launcher ex. i love go locker too haha
Utkarsh Sharma Ofcourse yes!!
Huy Pham I love my HTC widgets! :)
Jammari Hall Wp7 all the way widgets. Suck so do google
Hubert John Abiera Some of you guys sound way too in love with your phones. Kinda creepy yo.
Eduardo Ordaz Use them a lot. So yeah. Its more better than those pizza tiles on wp7.
Warren Saunders One reason I personally prefer Android over iPhone, customised home screens with widgets like GPS and news on the latest tech an ps3 sent straight to my home screen.as well as music etc,I honestly couldn't have it any other way.
Gary Bowling Who doesn't?
Nick Koval Yup Facebook, weather, stocks, news, and calendar.... Very useful use them all the time.....
Ernest Marvin Esteban yes. Especially the scrollable and resizeable widgets on Ice Cream Sandwich. I love them, they look good and has more information than wp7's boring tiles.
Markus Bartosch Of course!
Jason Stroman Yes Android = widgets and customization. I love change my phone daily.
Rodger Fulfer I do and iPhones suck! !!!
Kerdrick Pierre Of course! Lol
Naman Komre Obviously friendstream,calendar weather,music and data
Arvydas Gr I did, when I had Android. But I am super happy thaat I don't have it and use WP7 instead :)
Mandy Nakamura The Widgets I use are MinimalisticTexts, Pandora, SoundHound, Tumblr, Calendar, and Power Widget. :)
Mughal Mab Yes, That's what is a best part in Android Phones.....
Trevor Sawyer Absofreakinlutely.
David Hilgendorf I got a android so of course.... Stack widgets are the best on ice cream sandwich... If you don't have it yet you will love them when you do.
Ernest Marvin Esteban Lol. Of course! I use the gmail, youtube, clock, bookmarks, calendar, and some notes widgets
Eric Hook Yes. Many but love beautiful widget and calendar pad
Antonio Miller The only widget I ever use is the HTC clock widget.
Wilson Filiberto Rodriguez no i use launcher 7 so no widgets
Desmond Smith If you have an android and don't use Widgets something is wrong with you.
David Michael Sometimes
Kevin L. Lopez not really
Equaknox Knox Y i have an android n a jailbroken iphone
Cesar Samaniego lol phonedog was too busy watching tebowmania and can't come up with a better question. The correct answer is "yes, duh"
Kristian Jonathan-Courtney Bonds-Davis hell to the yes HTC is the best!
Dylan Wacker Also data control!!
Dylan Wacker The main thing I like about HTC is the fact that they have all the built in, useful and cohesive widgets you could possibly need. I mainly use the people, weather clock, and friend stream widgets however all the others are very nice. I'm very tempted to get a Motorola, except for the widgets seem to be lacking...
Mike R Greco why yes, i use meaningless, live updating icons that serve relatively no purpose anymore and kill my battery. JK #iphone
Cameron Walton Widgets on HTC "look" the best, but Motorola Widgets "are" the best. And its the mobile network (internet) on all day that is sucking up your batteries.
Bob Fitzgerald What's a clock? lol
Carlos Guerrero Of course I use widgets!!!
Muneer KhanVict Of course I use Widgets
Kyle Wraij Asking this question and people replying with "no" have no idea they are using widgets or what they are. Of you have the time in any clock on your home screen.... that IS a widget. Weather is a widget. Calendars, ringer controls and media players are widgets. Everyone with an Android phone uses widgets. Show me one user that has not ever implemented the clock!
Farhan Technologic Every screen! This is WHY i chose android.
Prabhath Jay ofcrs i use widgets. wtf am i gonna do with a 4.0 display ?
Juventino Sepulveda Jr Iphone suck. No Widgets. JajJJa yes i use mines in my Galaxy SII.
Ashley Manieri Oh hell yeah.. one of the best features android has to offer hands down.
Liam Terry WTF? People have android phones without widgets? Crazy people...Every screen has widgets....Love them!
Julio Montiel Doesn't suck up much battery for people saying that it does. Really no difference. Either way. I use all my Widgets on the daily :) gotta love the open and awesomeness of Android!
Jenny H. Liu Definitely! I love the customization ability that android has over the iPhone. :)
Chris Corliss Absolutely. All of them happen to be various news feeds and my power control widget.
Sumeet Deshmukh Yup obiously, i like them
Anton Lemeza Of course! News widget on SGS2 is amazing
David DiPilla Yup that's why i went to an android But the iphone still number one the iphone needs widgets
Cristian Tomasito I use live tiles that frequently update themselves on my homescreen.
Brandon Johnson The only useful ones are like the social network ones. Some of the app ones suck and some don't even come with a widget. Twitter and fb have the worst ones them shits never update on time. I'm back to ios now, but I liked em until the novelty wore off.
Geoff Meza yes. loads of them
Baldus Maximus sometimes, but it sucks up battery
Jonathan Ng Used to .
Frank Porter What kind of question is that? Of course
Roman JuicyFruit That's y I got a android instead of a iPhone haha
Jory Simonds Uh yeah!
Andres Alberto HTC's are the best ones
Marrion Bell sorry i have a iphone forget a widget
Rich Hernandez iphones don't USE widgets, they use apps. learn the difference!!
Hkjfblgkds Fdhdzsfh I do, because i have android (I hate it), if I had an iPhone i wouldn't care if i didn't have widgets
Nick Saladin Nope kills my battery
Nisan Vue You'd.be an idiot not to
Cheryl S. Bilski-Roessler no widgets on my samsung captivate
Chris Rodriguez Yep and that is the dealbreaker between android and ios
Rich Hernandez don't sue me bro!!
Joe Faxon FUCK YA!!!
Igor Bukhantsov James, hahahahhaha
Konner Shea Only really a battery widget
James Gustavo Hidalgo if you dont ....you most likely have an iphone loll
Joel Gonzalez One or two at most. It kills battery...
Jerry Trujillo Yes I did when I had an android
Ediben Yoonan yea!!!!!!!
David Alvarez Of course
Mayur Tejsingani What a question, obviously we do
Pritesh Singh who doesn't
Gavin Feist Sure do
Henry G Nerida nope... waste of time
Nain El Fuego Romero EVERY HOME SCREEN!

Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos
Most popular Videos

Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions
Most popular Reactions

This weeks "People's Choice Rankings" best smartphones
People's Choice Rankings

See all hot devices