We've said this countless times, because it never stops being true – a cornerstone of the Android operating system is customisation. The concept of "if you don't like it, change it". That philosophy has been the driving force behind millions of custom tweaks, interfaces, launchers, icon packs and much more that is currently available to Android users; both those that are on rooted devices and those not on rooted devices. More or less every aspect of the operating system can be tailored to your liking and to suit your workflow and usage better, and a brilliant example of this is custom widgets.
Widgets have always been a problem for me. I'd always download apps with included widgets, or widget apps,l; only to be sorely disappointed. Apps with included widgets were locked down to a single ecosystem or resource of information and often a single medium; I don't see myself controlling my music with Outlook's calendar widget. Using multiple widgets or downloading widget apps led to design inconsistency if you're trying to construct a visual theme of any sort, and so many widgets out there are just downright ugly.
While it's fair to say I am ridiculously picky, there should be no reason why a widget can't do both. And now, through the rise of custom widgets, they can do basically anything you'd like them to. And today, we're going to walk you through getting started with custom widgets, using one of the best and most versatile custom widget engines out there – KWGT.
So what is KWGT?
KWGT, or Kustom Widget, is exactly what it says on the tin, a custom widget creation tool. KWGT is one of many What You See Is What You Get widget makers, that allow you to either take pre-existing templates or widgets and customise them to your liking, or create your own widget from the down up. I'm not exaggerating when I say every single aspect of these widgets can be customised. Want an analogue clock that doubles as a music playback controller? Not a problem. Want to add weather and battery displays to the same widget? You're just a few taps away. KWGT allows you to make your widget exactly what you need, down to meticulously nit-picky details that people like me aim to change and perfect.
OK, so where do I get started?
The best place to start is probably by downloading KWGT from the Play Store, as we'd imagine you might struggle with making KWGT widgets without having the app itself.
We've linked the pro version below, as it allows for additional functionality such as downloading and importing templates from all over the web and the Google Play store, which can be invaluable. As much fun as making your own widget from the ground up might be, there's no denying that pre-existing templates are often excellent resources to either use either as they are or to build atop of, to ensure you're getting the ideal widget experience. Furthermore, no ads. And for $2.99, you might just get the dev some coffee. C'mon. Support your local developer's pumpkin spice latte cravings.
Step 1: Stick a widget on your homescreen
Open your launcher's widget prompt and add a blank widget to your homescreen, choosing out of the size presets available. This enables you to make the right sized widget to fit in with whatever theme you're going for. Here, seeing as I'm going to make the widget the centrepiece, I'm selecting the largest option: 4x4.
Tap the widget to open it up, and you're ready to get started.
Step 2: Tuck. In
KWGT has a tendency to seem rather overwhelming to first time users; which is understandable given the sheer range of options it avails to users. We'll walk you through the basics of the app as it is, but the best way to get a feel for it is to start messing with the base pack and tweaking things to your liking and seeing what fits. You'll quickly get accustomed to the settings and prompts of KWGT, and will soon be able to move on to making more complex creations.
Opening up the app reveals the options available to you; using preinstalled presets, downloaded presets of pressing the blank page button and making your own from scratch. We'll walk you through the basics of KWGT by customising a template from huk, a popular KWGT pack.
So here it is. The KWGT editor in all its glory. Take a mo0ment to take it all in, and we'll take you through each component of it.
As you can see in the images above and below, KWGT has 6 pages; Items, Background, Touch, Layer, Globals and Shortcuts. These are used to customise individual items and Komponents to shape your widget to your likinh.
Items: these are the layers of the widget itself; similar, in a way, to layers in photo editors like Photoshop. Editing and configuring them, though, not so much; you click on any item in the list to edit that layer, or tap the Add icon add the top of the screen to add a new one. Clicking on an item will take you to that layer's configuration screen, where you can construct and configure it to your liking.
Background: this is the background of the widget. How did you guess? While it's standard practice to keep this transparent, you might want to colour it with a solid background for whatever reason. If so, this is where to do it.
Layer: This is where you can change the scale and sizing of the entire widget rather than one layer. This is particularly useful for making a widget as large as necessary to properly accommodate your theme, as shown in the image below. This is also where you assign the location being used by your widget if it uses location services, such as a weather widget would (you can set it to a preset location or to set via GPS). In the layer section of individual items, you'll also find a option to hide or show that item based on the orientation of the device: Always, Portrait, Landscape, and Never, which is useful for effects such as changing the widget's appearance based on device orientation.
Touch: You can add touch actions to the entire widget here. The standard action is usually to open the widget editor, although you can also use this for interesting effects such as changing appearance. The touch module can also be used on individual items for a number of purposes, such as music controls (as shown in the image below).
Globals: Globals are settings that you can apply to multiple items in your widget. They're especially useful in more elaborate, widgets where variables such as colours can easily be changed by using a global, as opposed to navigating to each individual item and changing that variable.
Shortcuts: Shortcuts are used to link to specific apps within the widget, or to configure which apps are used for in-widget shortcut prompts (e.g which email app the email icon opens).
The "Add" button at the top of the page allows you to add specific modules which you may want, such as layers or other options. Additionally, in the Globals menu it can be used to configure a new global.
Aside from that, the sidebar packs a few extra features relating to the preview of your widget, such as previewing using your wallpaper, activating animations, locking layers and much more. Once you've customised your widget to your liking, don't forget to save by hitting the save icon up top, or you will lose all your work.
Aside from that, there's not much more to it. You can look through the menu for quick shortcuts, exporting your widget as an APK to sell on the Play Store or distribute easily to others, or just use the app's dark theme. Neat, huh?
The options within this app are never-ending. The Komponents allow for the most complex functions to be used or created within the widget,; essentially creating widgets within widgets. You can use them for everything from radio station control to a simple weather status. It's insanely intricate and versatile and the possibilities are truly endless.
What do you guys think? Will you download and experiment with KWGT? Let us know in the comments, or post over in the forums with your thoughts.