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How to Develop a Widget for Android Platform

Written by Raju Ram Khakhal on Feb 14, 2020
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How to Develop a Widget for Android Platform

Widgets form an essential part of the home screen in Android OS since its inception in 2008. They can be considered as a convenient tool for enhancing user experience and a vital part of screen customization. Users get the convenience of ‘on sight’ information from the app’s widget without opening the app itself. Users can freely move widgets around their phone’s home screen and also resize them. They are at liberty to customize the widgets with regards to the information they need to be displayed.

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Using widgets was so popular that it radically influenced mobile app development since its introduction. Some of the most popular must-have widgets are time, weather, video and music that can be seen on the Android home screen. The best part of widgets is that it saves users time and great for professionals on the move. One can also update widgets automatically according to a set time period or in response to finger taps.

Small, medium and large enterprises took an instant liking for creating widgets for their apps. Some of the big players include Google Chrome, Gmail, LinkedIn, etc.

If you are interested in getting a widget built for your app, there are few basics you need to follow. This article provides an elaborate overview on the same.

There are four types of widgets available on the Android platform.

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  • Information widgets

    these show a collection of emails, pics, clips, etc. Being a scrollable widget it is excellent for reading your emails and surfing down your inbox. On being tapped upon, the widget takes you directly within the email app such as Gmail, Outlook, etc.

  • Collection widgets

    these widgets form a majority segment of widgets that provide vital information to user such as time, weather, tasks, etc. The widget opens the application as soon as it receives a tap on it.

  • Control widgets

    as the name suggests, these widgets control the functions of the app. It is best used for viewing clips, videos or playing music. One can start, pause, continue and skip tracks without opening the main app.

  • Hybrid widgets

    help to combine the components of the other three widget types. Widgets are limited to vertical swipe and touch gestures. For apt usage, the widget should maintain a minimum size of 4x4 cells.

Read on to know about some basic tips on designing an app widget for Android:

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Permitting resizing

Users should be able to resize the widget according to their different size preferences. This will help them to adjust the height and width of the widget within limits of the home screen.

Show only Important Information

Widget should be similar to displaying newspaper headline stories and then leading the user to detailed section in the app.

Navigation elements

Navigation buttons should be included for leading the user to the app and back to home screen or settings. It should be functional for updating information as and when assigned or required.

Permitting users to pin widgets

As seen in Android 8.0 Oreo version that had launchers to allow users to pin app widgets and also create pinned miniature app shortcuts. Pinned widgets are easy to implement and provide access to users for conducting precise tasks in the app.

Permitting configuration of widgets

Android widgets show their configuration sets when brought on to the home screen. User should be permitted to configure widgets by selecting from the given choices for their proper functioning. It is suggested to provide a maximum of three configuration options in the widget.

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  • Writing the code for creating widget in Android:
  • You can take a pick from your choice of widgets for developing it. No framework is required for building the app widget.
    1. In the manifest file declare the app widget for your Android app. The source code is as follows:
    2. In the XML directory you can create the configuration file along with metadata. Here you can define the potential qualities of your app widget. The features of the layout file of the widget can look like:
      Widget size
      Resizing options
      Widget menu for previewing image
      Timings for updating the widget
      The elements of the widget’s configuration can be optimized depending on the app itself. These widgets can only be placed on the Home Screen, no accessibility on the Lock Screen. A top web app development company is the thing that you should make do with.
  • The configuration activity starts only when the widget is placed on the home screen by the user. The configuration screen is required when the widget is made responsive for user’s selection of photos, fonts or other elements.
  • Creating a Widget Provider class for describing the widget logic is very essential. One should define the change the widget will go through when it is updated by the user.
  • One can create or add as many widgets as required because each app widget contains a unique ID. All the widgets installed in the Android divide are visible through app Widget ld’s which is an array of IDs. These get deleted simultaneously with the app.
  • The app widgets updates are entirely dependent on the user’s settings. To attain proper implementation of the widget, we develop a launching service according to particular timings. This initiates the frequency of the widget’s updation ranging from per minute, week, month or even yearly. All this can be done without an internet connection.
  • Creating of the widget’s user interface faces numerous limitations prevalent in the widget development process. There are pre-defined UI elements that can be only used with widget extensions. They are Frame Layout, Linear Layout, Relative Layout, Grid Layout, Analog Clock, Button Chronometer, Image Button, Image View, Progress Bar, Text View, View Flipper, List View, Grid View, Stack View and Adapter View Flipper.
  • We can also use custom fonts for creating the app widget. Our expert team of android app developers can implement the widget within a full working day.
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If looking to hire android app developer for getting a widget created for your app, we are here for you. Mtoag is an android app development company with a proficient team of Android and iOS app developers . Get in touch with us for android widgets or mobile app development.

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Raju Ram Khakhal

Raju Ram has 10 years of experience in the IT industry as a web developer and leading mobile app development since 2012. He believes in sharing his strong programming knowledge base with a leaned concentration.

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