Hands on with HD Widgets 3.0

HD Widgets was one of the first apps I got for my Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus. I used its widgets until long after I also went Android for my phone, but eventually I switched it out for other widgets due to lack of customization. HD Widgets 3.0 just came out in beta form, and I’ve gone hands on to see what’s changed.

Right out of the box, HD Widgets 3.0 is a whole other beast than the old one. The premise is still the same: You get a bunch of different preset widget sizes and configurations to choose from, all of which have certain elements like weather, settings toggles, and clock that you can then configure further. The scale is much bigger in 3.0 though: more sizes, more configurations, and a heck of a lot more customization options for each default option. Clock font and color are now separate from the rest, you can configure which settings toggles you use and how they look, and so on.

The amount of different configurations here is epic, and this is one of those apps where you just know the developer is a graphics artist. It’s almost impossible to make anything that comes out of this thing look bad, and with weather icons available for even the most high resolution devices, the pure epicness of having half screen sized weather icons on a tablet makes this a winner. A picture is worth a thousand words, so before I continue on, here are some of my configurations from playing with the app:

As I said, these widgets look good. Very good. There’s also a feature where you get a more detailed overview of the weather if you click it, and that looks something like this:

Weather service, units, and things like that are of course configurable. You can also define “hotspots” on the widgets which will open appropriate apps when you click them, like clicking the clock to open the clock app. Combine that with the amount of options now available for tweaking the clock, toggles, weather and so on individually, and you’d think I’d be happy. Unfortunately I still feel that there’s a certain level of customization missing that I would have liked.

For instance, take the portrait mode screenshot above. I love the huge weather icon in the middle, and would have like to had everything else removed. I can remove the clock and get just weather, but I can’t remove the forecast icons too – at least not any way I’ve found. The result is that when the widget is resized to fit on my main homescreen, the forecast icons take up probably 1.5-2 icon rows on their own, meaning that I need more vertical space to get the main icon to fill out horizontally. More vertical space than I have available, to be specific. I could redo the homescreen layout to a different icon grid, but this is really something that I should be able to do in the widget app in my opinion. Then again, I’m currently using Make Your Clock  Widget on both my tablet and phone, and with it being 100% customizeable I may have too high expectations of widget apps.

Another example of where I got annoyed from not being able to make it look the way I wanted is the image above, which is a slight variation of one further up (basically adds clock). My initial reaction was to put a clock on the right side of the screen, near the purple part of the aurora (the wallpaper is a live wallpaper that comes with the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus). However the clock option puts the clock where it is in this image, which I don’t like. Itt’s too small, and too misplaced for me. Since the widget is actually present in the empty spots I can’t just add a separate clock on top either.

Still, the above configuration looks rather good without the clock, at least in landscape mode. When you switch to portrait however, this happens:

Basically the three main elements of the widget, forecast/text info/main weather icon, rearrange themselves automatically, and without any option for user override. I would have like to have the main icon at the top where it is, the text info overlaying it, and the forecast icons on the black part of the wallpaper. Well, pick two. I can leave it the way it is now, making the text info appear where I don’t want it, or I can make the widget smaller in the vertical direction and get with the text info and forecast in the right place, or the main icon and the text info. Not all three. If I could just add the main icon without the forecast, I could have fixed this easily by adding two separate widgets, but that’s not possible.

All in all, HD Widgets 3.0 is an amazingly good looking set of widgets, with more customization options that most widgets out there. Unfortunately for it, yours truly uses an app that allows for 100% customization, so I automatically look at this with a different perspective. I can’t help but think that a merge between HD Widgets and Make Your Clock would be the most epic thing ever, as I have a feeling that Make Your Clock is made by an engineer who does functionality well while HD Widgets is made by a graphics artist who does design well. Considering the massive jump that has been achieved with this version of HD Widgets though, I have high hopes that some day I will be able to tweak it the way I want. Either way it’s an epic widget app and well worth the $1 the app is currently going for on Google Play.

Download: Google Play

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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.