Widgets for webOS: A guide to "widgetizing" your webOS device 105
Widgets, what are they exactly and why do we always talk and about them? Better yet, why do we want them? Read on and find out more about the world of widgets and more importantly, widgets for webOS. A widget in dictionary terms is a “gadget,” which of course could mean anything. In the tech world a widget is a type of mini application. That’s it, no further explanation needed. The term widget is so loosely defined, that if you think a mini app is a widget, it probably is.
Why do we want widgets? Is it because they pop off the screen and look really cool? Well, not really. But yes. Widgets can definitely add that graphical cool factor, but essential widgets really boil down to useful information at a glance. Any mini app that can deliver at-a-glance information without having to delve into various levels of an app or copious amounts of screen tapping gets a thumbs up as a ‘widget’ worthy download. The bottom line is that we do want widgets, eye candy and information, lots of it.
Before we proceed let’s make one clarification for the home team: while webOS isn’t known for fantastic widgets like Android and its iconic-gigantic weather clock, the base webOS operating system is chock full of widgets. Technically webOS notifications are widgets and powerful ones at that. So while many smartphone communities may think of webOS as widget-free, nothing could be further from the truth. While webOS widgets seldom run on the wallpaper or homescreen in typical widget fashion, the entire webOS construct is an eye candy, multitasking, notifying, information at-a-glance, widgetized marvel. (Okay, I’m inventing words. But you get the point.)
Finally as promised, here are some of the current webOS widget apps and what they do. Keep in mind, the apps that allow you to match your app background to your device wallpaper have the most traditional widget feel as they more closely emulate your wallpaper/homescreen. Starting with my personal favorites first and otherwise in no particular order, here they are, with a brief description of the look and information each app offers:
ActiveCard 2, $3.99, by forwebOS.com
- Widget info: Time, date, weather, news, speed dial, note pad, app launcher.
- Widget highlights: Eye candy all the way. When paired with TealSpeed Dialer as a launcher, expands the one or two touch accessibility of Palm’s built-in launcher. Worth the price with the recent update (widget-locking finally built-in).
TealSpeed, $4.99, by TealPoint Software
- Widget Info: Speed launcher for apps, contacts, emails and web sites.
- Widget highlights: Includes an extensive library of Palm and homebrew apps to the launcher capabilities. Although a little complex it can look like and launch almost anything in almost any number via the scrolling screen.
MyClock, $1.50, by abesapps
- Widget Info: Time, alarm, current temp and weather conditions, RSS news feed, and 4-day weather information.
- Widget Highlights: Simply one of the better looking digital clocks with current temperature. Works perfectly whether in full view, card view, mini card view or landscape.
- Widget Info: No info mode (clears space to see your wallpaper), clock/wallpaper only mode and clock/date/wallpaper mode.
- Widget Highlights: Clean and simple way to enjoy your wallpaper with time and date or no info at all. Works equally well in all three viewing modes.
WidgetClock, free (beta), by Abesapps
- Widget info: Time, day, date, current temp and weather conditions.
- Widget highlights: Clean and functional with a smattering of graphics. Highly adjustable in opacity and height to tweak the final look. Works well in all three viewing modes.
Weatherman 2.0, $1.99, by Wizard Apps
- Widget info: Homescreen weather widget with current temp and four day forecast.
- Widget highlights: One of only a few widgets that interact on your device wallpaper/homescreen. Nice graphics so long as your wallpaper isn’t too busy.
Stickyman, $2.00, by Wizard Apps
- Widget info: Personal sticky notes, user defined notes to self.
- Widget highlights: Again, one of only a few widgets that interact on your device wallpaper/homescreen. Note that it conflicts with the Weatherman app by the same dev.
Sports Live!, $7.99, by More Solutions
- Widget info: Via webOS notifications, live sports scores and live game info.
- Widget highlights: Option to update live sports scores including some very robust features like visual base count (baseball). There are number of specialty versions available, including College Football Live!, US Soccer Live!, and more.
Music Player (Remix) 2.0 Beta, free, by DanPLC
- Widget info: Via webOS notifications, next track cue, current track player, current track position/scrubber.
- Widget highlights: Can be configured to one, two or three line notification mini player.
Lastly, widgets for webOS (or any OS for that matter) most basic in function are the active icon widgets. Here the app icon updates information allowing us to see voicemail count, temperature, sms count and so on by simply glancing the app icon. Included is a screenshot of many of these little widget icons you may or may not be aware of.
With webOS 2.0 on the horizon, widgets and webOS are likely to turn a corner that redefines our current stable of information at-a-glance apps. This is good news for webOS users, and good news for the likes of Android and iOS users as well. Not only are eye-popping visuals with information seem to be more and more of a requirement of smartphones users of all OS ilk; the improvement of any platform drives all the competition forward. We know you’ve got your own widgety apps and features you like; hit up the comments with your widgetizing ways.