Instead of filling your tablet screen with a row of icons, bring it to life with these cool widgets that put information and utilities touch away.
Make your home screen alive
Widgets have always been one of the key differentiators for Android. They really shine on a tablet, where you have a large screen to fill with news, weather, or useful utilities instead of icons.
We’ve rounded up some of the best ways to glam up your screen with both good-looking and useful widgets from the Play Store. Whether you have a modest-sized Nexus 7 or big-screened Galaxy Tab S, they’ll add some zest to your home screen.
AccuWeather completely revamped its weather widget with Lollipop in mind, and it looks great. The white background and black text mesh well with the Google Now Launcher and other apps on the screen that have the Material Design look.
It’s useful too, as it puts the current temperature and a three-day forecast right on the home screen, which is usually just what you need and then won’t need to open up the app. Once you do launch it though you get a tremendous amount of weather detail, with forecasts, radar, and videos.
Numix Calculator Pro
It may not be the sexiest widget possibe, but having a calculator right on the home screen is incredibly useful. If you punch away at one often, get Numix Calculator Pro. It’s a great example of Material Design and blends in well with other apps that follow the new aesthetic.
The widget just does basic calculations, so you’ll need to jump into the app if you want do graphing or algebraic functions. But it’s great to have as a widget so you can calculate quickly and keep an answer handy if you need to reference it later.
Maybe you want some vintage crafts or bulletin boards on your home screen. If so, drop Pinterest’s widget down, and size it to your liking. It can fill up most of a screen if you wish, giving you instant access to all those home decorating, fashion, and parenting ideas.
You can favorite and re-pin items, so you can keep an eye on all those other cool widgets, taking multitasking (or distraction) to a new level
Microsoft’s OneNote has grown to be a solid option for note-taking and organizing all of one’s files on Android. OneNote’s widget makes good use of colored icons to help you spot more quickly what you’re looking for.
The colors correspond to sections you’ve created in OneNote, giving you a quick method for glancing at a note to know what subject it’s connected to. If you prefer Evernote or Google Keep, they have widgets as well, but Microsoft gets kudos for its implementation here and really pushing its cross-platform strategy.
Google Drive has a series of good widgets rather than just one knockout, but if you combine these together you can really ramp up your tablet productivity. One widget lets you put one or several direct links to a specific folder. Or if you like to organize photos into specific folders, use the snapshot widget to launch the camera, which will then place that image into the folder you’ve preselected.
The long bar also puts the commands for uploading, adding a picture, or creating a new Doc, Sheet, or Slide on the home screen.
Google News and Weather
Google resurrected this widget from the Nexus One days, and it’s turned into a great choice, putting the latest forecast and news stories right on your home screen.
Even though the widget starts off 2×2, you can pull it wider or longer to better fit that open space on your screen. There are also two color options: dark gray or white. Touching the widget fires up the app, which gives more detailed weather information and the usual Google News avalance of articles.
Flipboard is a great-looking digital magazine, but it also serves up a couple of attractive widgets.
There are two choices; a 3×1 that offers a headline and image, or a giant 5×5 widget that really dominates the screen. It just depends how much space you want to devote to the day’s news or your favorite feeds.
If you want to cycle through headlines touch the circular arrow at the bottom of the widget. Or just touch elsewhere and you’ll be taken to that article inside of Flipboard.
There are plenty of good calendar apps for Android, but Cal offers the cleanest widget. It displays upcoming days and has a handy button to quickly add a new event.
The 2×2 widget is the right size for a tablet screen, though you can manually make it wider or longer. The app is by parent company Any.do, which also makes a similarly minimalist app and widget combo for Android.
Putting the Spotify widget on your home screen means you can just hit play and continue with where you left off in your last playlist. Also, no need to jump into the app if you want to pause a song or skip ahead.
It’s a fairly no-frills approach, but it works well if you want to rock out while cranking away on work or doing some Internet reading on your Android tablet. Google Play Music offers a similar widget if that’s your streaming service of choice.
Feedly is the best RSS reader out there, and its widget does a good job of letting you turn down the firehose of all that incoming Internet content.
It’s a great option for when you just want to scroll through for a good article but don’t want to open the floodgates to all your feeds at once. Just touch the arrow to get a new headline or tap the middle of the widget to launch the app.
You can choose to leave the widget stagnant until you launch Feedly, or it can refresh articles every 30 minutes or hour.