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How to create your own custom widget for Android

How to create your own custom widget for Android

The freedom that Android provides to its users is something you don’t get with any other operating system. Widgets have also been a characteristic of Android for a long time, before Apple went ahead and integrated them into iOS 8. Usually applications will come with pre-made ones or multiple widgets that you can drag and drop onto your home screen to have quick access to the app’s contents. What if you create and design your own widget? Like many tweaks to your Android smartphone, this process also requires an application, this one is called Zooper Widget.

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Create your own widget with Zooper Widget. © AndroidPIT

From the makers of Themer, Zooper Widget comes in a free version, as well as a pro variant with more customization options for the price of 2.49 USD. I gave the app a try with my Nexus 5, but it supports any smartphone or tablet running Android 3.2 or later.

After installing the app, you must first choose a widget size, and drag it to your home screen. There are many widget sizes to choose between, from 1x1 to 4x4 icon spaces. After this is done, you can adjust the widget layout to add content which is split up into various module types, like text, bitmap icons, progress bars, your own images etc.

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The sky's the limit for the size of widget you can have, and you can also drag the edges to manually change the sizes later. © AndroidPIT

The content which you can add can be time, date, battery, calendar, astronomy, locality, network, system and weather. You can also add your own text manually. Once you have chosen the content, its size, color, font and other factors can be tweaked. There are many different settings options, so it does take a bit of time to get familiar with the entire layout of the application. 

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 Whether you choose a pre-made setup or make everything from scratch, there's ton of options. © AndroidPIT

Not only are there different types of content and modules to be added, there are tons of sub-categories of customization so you can customize every last detail out of your widget. There are also some other global preferences, like the choice of a transparent background, the refresh intervals for information like weather, celsius or fahrenheit, which weather provider, geocoding, landscape mode, etc.

Here is the list of some of the things you can have:

  • Full Math expressions supported (like Star Trek stardate)
  • Battery info
  • World clock (multiple time zones)
  • Weather for current or multiple locations
  • Up to 5 days forecast (multiple providers: Open Weather Map, YR.NO) 
  • Calendar info
  • System info (uptime, alarms, SD card space)
  • Network info (WiFi, networks etc)
  • Network traffic data stats for various time frames
  • Missed calls, unread SMS, unread GMail (more than one account and label)
  • Sunrise, Sunset and Astrological Nautical or Civil twilight
  • Moon Rise, Set and Illumination percentage
  • Completely dynamic and customizable TTF and PNG icon sets
  • Static Bitmaps (PNG with alpha and JPG)
  • Progress Bars customizable with any numeric variable such as min/max and value
  • Tasker integration
  • Jelly Bean lock screen support
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To get started, you need to choose layout settings, and from there you can add various modules (text, images, icons , graphics, etc) and change every tiny detail, such as the font. Also, Zooper Widget has the official Android KitKat font Roboto, so your widget will match your UI if you are running this version of Android. © AndroidPIT

It took me quite a bit of time to fiddling around with the adjustment and positioning of each part of my widget, and I think with practice I will be able to come up with a better design. The cool thing about this app is that you need absolutely no programming skills, just an idea and a bit of patience.

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The number of settings options is extensive, and include interval rates, weather networks source, colors for fonts and backgrounds etc. © AndroidPIT

I experimented with different colors, my own images, the time, data, weather in various formats such as series (like decreasing battery percentages, the time and the days of the week), or icons of the weather with the temperature and date in normal text form. If you are having some issues finding good ideas or designs, there are a bunch of templates available at the XDA developer forum.

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A lot of tweaking can be done, but it is hard to make a really good one on your first shot, especially if you don't know exactly what you want. I'm sure you can make a very cool looking widget, and probably better than my finished results. The one on the right is probably my best creation. © AndroidPIT

If you happen to make your own Zooper widget, share it with us in our show us your home screen thread! Did you give this a try?

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