Android Intelligence Advice

A better 'At a Glance' widget for Android

Keep tabs on your calendar and the weather with this enhanced alternative to Google's latest home screen widget.

At a Glance Widget, Android
JR Raphael

A good Android widget can make your home screen attractive, effective, and extra-useful as a starting point for all your mobile productivity needs. (The same applies for your mobile procrastination needs, too, of course — not that you would ever use your phone for such silly purposes...) 

Google's "At a Glance" widget, introduced with the Pixel 2, is a good Android widget. It shows you the current date and weather in a simple, compact, and visually appealing form. It even expands to show contextual info, like countdowns to upcoming calendar events, when appropriate. And it serves as a single-tap shortcut to both your calendar and full forecast app, so you can get to either place quickly without having to devote extra screen space to standard shortcut icons.

The problem is that the "At a Glance" widget is built directly into the Pixel 2's default launcher — which means (a) you can't move it around or use it with any third-party launchers, and (b) you can't easily install it on any other devices.

But wait! It looks like Google is working to change those limitations: The latest beta version of the standalone Google app includes a version of the widget anyone can install, anywhere. Before you get too excited, though, take note: There's actually a better version of that same widget available right now.

It's called, rather amusingly, Another Widget. It's basically a third-party emulation of Google's "At a Glance" widget, only packed with oodles of extra options — in terms of both form and function.

At a Glance Widget, Android - Another Widget JR

Seeing double: Google's "At a Glance" widget, at left, and Another Widget, at right

At its core, the widget looks more or less like the one present on the Pixel 2 and in Google's beta app — but under the surface, it has a whole lot more going on. In Another Widget's setup screen, for instance, you can customize details like the size and color of the text and even add in extra elements like a clock. You can configure what apps are opened when you tap the date or temperature, and you can opt to use OpenWeather as the provider instead of Google's own weather service. The actual "At a Glance" widget offers none of these options.

(The version of the "At a Glance" widget in Google's beta app doesn't actually do anything when you tap on the date, in fact, which is rather odd and an unfortunate limitation.)

Another Widget, Android JR

Some of Another Widget's customization options

I've been using Another Widget on my own Pixel 2 for a while now. Since I use Action Launcher on my phone, the regular "At a Glance" widget has long been unavailable to me in that context. And though Action Launcher has its own emulated version of the widget, it relies only on Google's weather service for forecast info — and consequently never seems to remain up to date and accurate throughout the day (an apparent issue with the Google weather service, according to Action Launcher's developer).

With Another Widget, I get all the good parts of the "At a Glance" widget without any of the downsides — and with some significant functional perks. It's more complete and consistent than any other version of the widget, including both of Google's current offerings.

Now, let's not kid ourselves: This is a super-simple app and is far from being revolutionary. For a core part of my home screen that I glance at and interact with numerous times during the day, though, having something that looks great and works flawlessly makes a world of difference.

Another Widget is free. The only permissions it requires are access to your device's location — so it can know where you are and thus what weather info to display — and access to your calendar, so it can pull up and display details about upcoming events.

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[Android Intelligence videos at Computerworld]

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