Android, when opposed to iPhone, can boast of a more usable home screen thanks to those nifty little widgets that you can place all over. These widgets allow you to quickly access features and settings that usually take about 4-5 clicks when accessed by the normal way.
Here are 10 essential Android widgets you must put on your home screen:
News and Weather Widget
This is a great widget that is installed by default on most of the Android 2.1+ devices. The News and Weather widget allows you to have a quick glance at the weather in your town. Clicking on it will open a complete menu showing you the weather for the whole week as well as the current day's forecast. You could swipe across the screen to access the latest news from Google News. The news is customized according to your location (GPS only) and is neatly categorized into relevant sections.
Although Android's top bar shows you the battery level, many people prefer to have the battery status in percentage. Battery Widget is a small widget that you can drop on your home screen to show you the exact battery level every time you unlock your phone. Clicking on the widget opens up a small menu allowing you to access detailed stats and settings for Battery, Display, GPS, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Battery Widget is not installed by default but is freely available for download from the Android Market.
Power Control Widget
This is another pre-installed widget that just makes things a lot easier. Once dropped to the home screen, you'll see a rectangular bar with icons for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Syncing and Brightness (may vary with different models). Just click on the individual icons and you can turn on/off the respective features instantly. As for the brightness button, clicking it allows you to toggle between different levels of brightness. This is an app that should always be on your main home screen.
Many Android devices stock with a single button headset; thus, controlling music quickly becomes quite difficult. That's where the music widget steps in. Once dropped to the home screen, it allows the user to Play/Pause the track by the touch of a button. You can also switch to the next track. What's more, the track's name and artist's name are displayed on the same bar.
Google Search Widget
This is another widget that comes pre-loaded with most of the Android devices. On select devices it allows you to search directly by voice. Just enter your query in the search box and results show up instantly (depending on your Internet connection)
If you're an avid Evernote user, this little widget will be indispensable for you. Once you install Evernote, you can use the two widgets that come along with the application. The smaller version of the widget comes in the form of a long bar which allows you to quickly add notes (both voice and text), photos and also allows you to search through your notes. The larger version of the widget shows a preview of the 2 or 3 recent notes you uploaded. This is a great addition to the home screen if you want to be more productive.
If you're a YouTube user, this widget will load a quick preview of your subscriptions the moment they are updated. Also, you'll be able to quickly search through millions of YouTube videos by clicking just one button on the home screen. There is also a quick link to the camera so that you can shoot a video and instantly upload it to YouTube. This widget comes pre-installed in most of the Android devices.
Analog Clock Widget
If you don't carry a watch along, then this widget will help you keep track of time by putting a sleek analog clock on your home screen. Usually comes out-of-the-box in many Android devices.
Google Plus Widget
In our earlier articles, we've written a lot about Google's new social network Google Plus. It has instantly become our favorite social network. So, if you're an avid user of G+, the Google Plus widget will allow you to quickly post notices, upload pictures and view your photo gallery. The widget looks really sleek and can easily fit on crowded home screens. G+ widget comes pre-installed with the official Google Plus app for Android.
This widget, which comes with the official Twitter app allows you to keep an eye on your Twitter stream right from your home screen. The smaller version of the widget allows you to simply view a slideshow of your Twitter stream whereas the slightly larger version comes with shortcuts that allow you to quickly post to Twitter.
Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.