Make Your Clock lets you create your own clock/weather widget


Have you ever browsed the Google Play selection of widgets for ages without finding anything that really screams "use me"? Perhaps I just have weird tastes, but I have. Even with having used the same clock widget now for several months, it never fit me 100%. 

With my recent obsession with Tasker and my phone now frankly doing more on its own than I do with it, I decided to finally get off my butt with the widget issue and make one from scratch. Minimalistic Text is well known for allowing you to create your own widget as well as being able to use information provided by Tasker. After playing around with it though I found it to be horribly flawed for my use, so I went to see if there were other apps that combined Tasker compatibility and widget creation. There is, and Make Your Clock is exactly what I needed. 

Make Your Clock are available for both tablets and phones, as free (phones/tablets) or paid (phones/tablets) versions. You'll want to get the paid version to use the custom widget feature though, as the free version is too limited. 

When you first start creating your own design it's important to understand how the widget sizes work. The largest widget size available in the phone version is 4×2 icons, which might seem little for a lot of larger phones with custom launchers, but those launchers can also scale widgets beyond that. When you do that, the elements will scale too. As such, 4×2 icons is enough as long as you think in relative terms rather than absolute terms. A clock displayed on half the 4×2 widget stretched to 8×4 will essentially make it a 4×4 clock. 

Most of the controls are rather self explanatory, but some are not. The Anchor tab available for items you add is very important, because it decides how elements you add to the widget grows when they change based on difference in word length for days of the week, number and size of digits in a clock, and so on. If you want a clock to always be centered, you should anchor it in the center. If you want Two dynamic pieces of text to stay side-by-side but never overlap as one grows, you should anchor the left one to the right and the right one to the left, so that they're anchored at the gap between the two and grow from there as the size changes. 

There is also no safety system in place to stop you from exiting the edit mode without saving, so make sure you save often, and use the backup feature in the top right corner of the edit screen when you're satisfied with your design, just in case the app data resets at once point. Finally, it's a good idea to learn to switch between drag-and-drop positioning and using the arrows for doing it a pixel at a time to get full control over positioning. You can also lock finger movement to make sure you don't accidentally mess anything up, and there's something that looks like a GPS fix icon that lets you switch between which element is selected without having to try to hit it with your finger. 

With those things in mind, you can go nuts and design. You use the plus sign to add new elements, where you can choose between various elements that have to do with time, date, battery, phone status, or just visual elements. The weather feature in this system is actually very very powerful if you ask me, as it allowed me to not only choose between several different skins for the weather icons, but also allowed me to use a Norwegian weather service as the weather provider. You can add icons for the current and next two days, or various dynamic text bits that deal in the same things. Many of the elements you can insert also have further customization options once inserted, like e.g. a clock always being 4 digits, or days displaying all uppercase rather than all lowercase, and so on. 

The feature that lead me to the app aside from the scratch building option was however the Tasker integration. Once installed, Make Your Clock Variable will be an option under "plugins" when you select Tasker actions. Tasker can then be used to push static text to the widget based on various profiles, or even Tasker's own variables. Variables are essentially special words that are placeholders for other information that is updated regularly.

For instance, part of my Sleep Mode tasker profile involves writing information to the variable %Lastsleep. When I activate the sleep mode profile – which happens when I go to bed – that variable is set to "SM is on." That means that wherever the word %Lastsleep appears in Tasker, it will be replaced with "SM is on." Using the plugin to Make Your Clock, that variable is transferred over to Make Your Clock, where I can add it as part of the widget. When %Lastsleep is set to "SM is on" in Tasker, part of my self made widget updates to display that phrase as well. Then, when I deactivate sleep mode, %Lastsleep is set to "LS %TIME," which contains another variable which is part of Tasker and always means "whatever time it is now."

In practice, if I deactivate sleep mode at 09:23, the widget updates to display "LS 09:23."The more skilled you are at using Tasker, the more complex information you can transfer to the widget. Using the method of transferring info between Tasker equipped devices that I covered yesterday, there is for instance nothing stopping a wife from having a widget that displays what the husband is cooking for dinner, controlled from the husband's phone. Only your imagination decides what you can display here, as long as you know how to or know someone who can help you set up Tasker to send the information to Make Your Clock. 

All in all, this app is a very powerful tool, and well worth the $2.50. It's an app that takes some work to get the most out of though, at least if you want to start all the way from scratch with your widgets and not just modify the ones that come with it or you can download online, which is also possible. If you do take the time to create the perfect widget though you're likely to get a lot out of it in the long run, especially if you start parsing information from other places using Tasker, which is something that you most definitely won't get with any off-the-shelf widget. 

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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