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How To Make an Android Widget (Home Screen)

A widget is a small application that is displayed only on the Home Screens or Lock Screens, it provides a quick way to access certain information from apps without having to open the app itself.

No programming is required for generating a basic widget and it is only required if an application is to be embedded inside the widget.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the simple yet effective steps to create your own Android widget, perfect for both beginners and seasoned developers.

Steps For Creating a Widget for Android Devices

Step 1: Initiate a New Project

To start off, you need to open a new project in your Android development environment. This is the foundation from which you’ll build your widget.

Step 2: Add the App Widget

Navigate through your project to App > Res > Layout > New > Widget > App Widget. Here, you’ll specify important properties of your widget like its placement, minimum width, maximum height, and source language. Don’t worry about getting overwhelmed; the necessary files are automatically generated for your convenience.

Android Widget image 1
How To Make an Android Widget (Home Screen) 3

Step 3: Test with Android Virtual Device (AVD)

After setting up your widget, it’s crucial to run the code on an Android Virtual Device (AVD). This step ensures that your widget functions as intended. Simply open the widget section of the virtual phone, search for your newly created widget, and drag it to the Home Screen.

Deleting the Widget

If you wish to remove the widget, just drag it to the bottom of the screen. And that’s it!

Android Widget image 2

Read More: SlideUp Motion Layout in Android Studio

Exploring the generated files:

1. res/xml/new_app_widget_info.xml

This provider-info file sets the groundwork for your widget. It defines its default size, update frequency, and other crucial aspects.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<appwidget-provider xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
   android:configure="com.example.newappwidget.NewAppWidgetConfigureActivity"
   android:initialKeyguardLayout="@layout/new_app_widget"
   android:initialLayout="@layout/new_app_widget"
   android:minWidth="250dp"
   android:minHeight="110dp"
   android:previewImage="@drawable/example_appwidget_preview"
   android:resizeMode="horizontal|vertical"
   android:updatePeriodMillis="86400000"
   android:widgetCategory="home_screen"></appwidget-provider>

2. res/layout/new_app_widget.xml

This file outlines the layout of your widget. It’s where you design how your widget looks on the screen.

<RelativeLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
   android:layout_width="match_parent"
   android:layout_height="match_parent"
   android:background="?attr/appWidgetBackgroundColor"
   android:padding="@dimen/widget_margin"
   android:theme="@style/ThemeOverlay.NewAppWidget.AppWidgetContainer">

   <TextView
       android:id="@+id/appwidget_text"
       android:layout_width="wrap_content"
       android:layout_height="wrap_content"
       android:layout_centerHorizontal="true"
       android:layout_centerVertical="true"
       android:layout_margin="8dp"
       android:background="?attr/appWidgetBackgroundColor"
       android:contentDescription="@string/appwidget_text"
       android:text="@string/appwidget_text"
       android:textColor="?attr/appWidgetTextColor"
       android:textSize="24sp"
       android:textStyle="bold|italic" />
</RelativeLayout>

3. java/values/NewAppWidget.java

This Java file is crucial for handling widget update intents. It’s where the functionality of your widget is programmed.

import android.appwidget.AppWidgetManager;
import android.appwidget.AppWidgetProvider;
import android.content.Context;
import android.widget.RemoteViews;

/**
* Implementation of App Widget functionality.
* App Widget Configuration implemented in {@link NewAppWidgetConfigureActivity NewAppWidgetConfigureActivity}
*/
public class NewAppWidget extends AppWidgetProvider {

   static void updateAppWidget(Context context, AppWidgetManager appWidgetManager,
                               int appWidgetId) {

       CharSequence widgetText = NewAppWidgetConfigureActivity.loadTitlePref(context, appWidgetId);
       // Construct the RemoteViews object
       RemoteViews views = new RemoteViews(context.getPackageName(), R.layout.new_app_widget);
       views.setTextViewText(R.id.appwidget_text, widgetText);

       // Instruct the widget manager to update the widget
       appWidgetManager.updateAppWidget(appWidgetId, views);
   }

   @Override
   public void onUpdate(Context context, AppWidgetManager appWidgetManager, int[] appWidgetIds) {
       // There may be multiple widgets active, so update all of them
       for (int appWidgetId : appWidgetIds) {
           updateAppWidget(context, appWidgetManager, appWidgetId);
       }
   }

   @Override
   public void onDeleted(Context context, int[] appWidgetIds) {
       // When the user deletes the widget, delete the preference associated with it.
       for (int appWidgetId : appWidgetIds) {
           NewAppWidgetConfigureActivity.deleteTitlePref(context, appWidgetId);
       }
   }

   @Override
   public void onEnabled(Context context) {
       // Enter relevant functionality for when the first widget is created
   }

   @Override
   public void onDisabled(Context context) {
       // Enter relevant functionality for when the last widget is disabled
   }
}

4. res/values/dimens.xml

This file provides dimensional settings such as widget padding.

<dimen name="widget_margin">0dp</dimen>

5. app/manifests/AndroidManifest.xml

This manifest file is essential for defining the widget’s properties within the Android system.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<manifest xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
   package="com.example.newappwidget">

   <application
       android:allowBackup="true"
       android:icon="@mipmap/ic_launcher"
       android:label="@string/app_name"
       android:roundIcon="@mipmap/ic_launcher_round"
       android:supportsRtl="true"
       android:theme="@style/Theme.NewAppWidget">
       <receiver android:name=".NewAppWidget">
           <intent-filter>
               <action android:name="android.appwidget.action.APPWIDGET_UPDATE" />
           </intent-filter>

           <meta-data
               android:name="android.appwidget.provider"
               android:resource="@xml/new_app_widget_info" />
       </receiver>

       <activity android:name=".NewAppWidgetConfigureActivity">
           <intent-filter>
               <action android:name="android.appwidget.action.APPWIDGET_CONFIGURE" />
           </intent-filter>
       </activity>
       <activity android:name=".MainActivity">
           <intent-filter>
               <action android:name="android.intent.action.MAIN" />

               <category android:name="android.intent.category.LAUNCHER" />
           </intent-filter>
       </activity>
   </application>

</manifest>

Conclusion

Creating an Android widget is not just about enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your device. It’s about efficiency and personalization, bringing the most useful features of your favorite apps to your fingertips. By following these steps, you’ll not only enhance your Android development skills but also create a widget that adds value to your daily digital experience.

Remember, a widget can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. Start simple, experiment, and see how you can innovate in this exciting space. Happy coding!

Vidhi Markhedkar
Vidhi Markhedkar
Android developer and writer with a passion for creating innovative and user-friendly apps.

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