How to build your own Android widgets for a truly personalized homescreen

If you’ve been using Android for a while, you’ve probably settled in on some favorite widgets. It's pretty nice to get live weather, sports, news, and other updates without hopping from one app to another. And in general, the most popular apps have good widgets that complement their services. It's a defining characteristic of Android and one of the best reasons to choose it over iPhone.

But sometimes you want more. There’s a way to take the customization you get with widgets even further by getting an app that lets you design your own widget from scratch. This gives you even more control over the look and content that is always at the ready on your home screen.

Here are four apps that get you on the road to widget customization. Soon enough you’ll have widgets that no one else has, which can give your home screen an even more personalized look.

If you’re looking for a good place to start, go with Buzz Widget. The app offers several templates that give you a good starting framework instead of overwhelming you with choices. You can select a widget with the weather and a clock,for example,  and then add in other extras.

Or if you’re truly brave you can design your own widget from scratch, mixing in different elements like the forecast, clocks, and images from your own gallery. Working with the interface is a little tedious—the need to open items from a folder and hit the Save button might make you feel like you’re back to working on a desktop.

But if you’re patient, you can come up with a truly unique creation that you’ll be proud to show off. If you enjoy Buzz, you may want to check out the Buzz Launcher to bring this same type of tweaking to the rest of your phone.

If you want an attractive widget with minimal fuss, then HD Widgets is a great choice. Many of the options remind me of the HTC Sense interface, with an old-school alarm clock dominating the look.

But there are a lot of other options, particularly in how the weather is displayed. The most powerful aspect of this app comes from the fact that you can assign a hot spot to the widget—when you touch it the widget in the assigned spot, it will launch an app you specify. This can free up some space on your home screen, as you’ll no longer need the app icon listed if all you need to do is touch the widget in order to launch your favorite weather app.

If you really want to step up your widget game, then Zooper Widget Pro may be just what you need. The customization is rather extensive, as you can tweak the scale and opacity of individual icons and the color scheme. It has some of the most detailed customization choices out there, so you can really make your own look.

Zooper is popular enough that it functions as a platform, with other apps and themes are able to build their own widgets that work with it. Typographical Zooper and Zooper by Beard 3 are both good at using Zooper to transform the entire look of your phone or tablet. Zooper takes some more work than the others, but you’ll be able to show off a unique creation to all your iPhone-using friends who still rock a stale grid of icons.

Beautiful Widgets Pro is a great middle ground if you’re looking for something that does a lot of the heavy lifting for you, but also lets you dabble with how your widget looks. 

That’s because the app has numerous templates for you to quickly select a widget and then make a few minor tweaks. It’s an ideal option if you want the weather, a large clock, or just a few other at-a-glance details.

The design may seem a little stuck in the past for some of the widgets, but it’s worth trying out to see if there is something that you like.

If you like using widgets, or may want to test out the concept more deeply, these are all good alternatives. If you have a personal favorite that we haven’t mentioned, let us know about it in the comments. The key to Android customization is discovery and experimentation, so stay vigilant when it comes to finding other ways to make your homescreen truly personal.


Derek Walter

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