This Thursday (June 7, 9pm PDT) we’re releasing the next major update of HD Widgets. We’re really happy with this one. We’ve done a lot to improve the experience & make it more fun and easy to use. There’s a lot more customization and a lot of features you’ve been asking for. So let’s take a look.
FAQ / Overview
- is FREE update
- will be BETA release for first few days so play nice…
- new themes not available until end of month
- made for ICS (uses sdk 15)
- recommended: OS 4.0 / ICS with xhdpi/hdpi/tablet screen
- minimum: OS 2.2 with mdpi screen
We’ve updated the standard widgets quite a lot (click images to zoom). We’ve added a lot of color, added a lot of fine details, and revitalized the graphics completely. Flip clocks got the most attention with new backgrounds, fonts, and colors. We added two more LED clock designs along with a couple dozen of new background colors. We also had a lot of fun with the Honeycomb font – by nature it’s actually a two-part font so we made it a two-color display – should be interesting…
We’re already hard at work on the next theme and widget packs. The next theme is Colourform, will be an in-app download for HD Widgets users, and should be available
by Google IO (later this month) in October. The next widget pack will be Photostream, will be a paid download, and available around the same time.
Clocks Widgets (& more)
We added a few more widget types. The most useful will be the new 4×1 Text Clock and 4×2 Clock. The Text Clock is pretty fun: you’ll be able to select two colors to make some vivid contrasts and/or complementary tones. We enlarged the base size of all of the clock artwork (i.e. why we’re getting memory problems) so the 4×2 clock can be larger on your screen.
We also added a new Full Screen Weather since we had a few requests to make it clock-less. The Full Screen widget was our 2nd most popular widget (after the 4×2 Header) so I’m curious how that will divvy up.
The preview editors have been greatly redesigned and expanded. First thing you’ll notice is that you’re designing right on your own wallpaper. This makes color matching & transparency much easier to figure out. The widget preview are *REAL* and show the current time, weather, settings, etc –> these were pretty crazy to figure out ;-)
The action bar has a drop menu to switch between Active Widgets and theme previews. The Downloads button opens Themes & Extras (see below). Like before, there are tabs for each of the available widgets. You can tap & swipe the tabs to navigate or swipe the widgets to move to the next one.
On the bottom is the Options Menu. Instead of seeing one option and one style at a time (i.e. ver 2), they’re now listed in swipey rows. The bottom row includes different components you can edit and the top row are the values. These change depending on which design you’re working with.
While it’s fun to customize widgets yourself, we’ve also added a new Random button (bottom left corner) – this will randomize the components and values. You’ll get a lot of *meh* results but you’ll also get some amazing surprises!
The Weather screen got a nice facelift – we’ve added a bunch of new font weights and added some essential features. One of your biggest requests was multi-location weather so that’s now in there: we’ll show tabs when there’s more than one location. We also added two new weather services: Weather Underground and Google weather. My favorite addition is the new drop down menu in the action bar which makes it easy to “comparison shop” between services. Sweet!
Another huge request was custom switch rows so here they are. As you can see, we followed through with our original approach: we have presets to choose from or you can add your own. Switch rows are easy to edit (there are now 30+ switches to chose from) and you can drag to reorder them. We even fill in your name for you =)
We added a few more switches and shortcuts:
- Night Brightness: toggles to 15% dim – great for driving at night
- Screen Timeout: toggle through screen timeout durations
- Screen Max Time: toggle to max screen timeout value, only 10 minutes right now until we can find API for longer.
- Force Sync: for users who turn off autosync
- Refresh Library: refresh the media library (good for Cloudskipper)
- shortcuts for Clock, Calendar, and Weather: use same target settings as widget hotspots
- Search, Voice Search, and “blank”
Yup there’s more but it’s not nearly as visually exciting.
Theme packs – we finally have our system in place to make external theme packs work in HD Widgets. The first one is already available: the High Res Pack for tablets and XHDPI devices. We’re working on two more packs, Colourform & Photostream, which should be out in time for Google IO later this month.
User Guide – has been updated to account for different screens & OSes. This should make it much easier to get started.
Single apk – because our widgets and apps use a lot of graphics, our previous version was split into 4 apks targeting different screen sizes. Unfortunately due to a screen-id bug, this left out devices like modded tablets. To solve this we unified the apps and separated the largest graphics (tablet-size weather icons) into a download pack, reducing the app size by 16MB!
Add / remove widget sizes – now that we’re using one apk for everyone that also means all of the widgets sizes are available, from 1×1 all the way up to 4×7 and 8×2. Most devices don’t need every size, so we’ve set up filters to only start with the ones you need for that device. You’re free to add & remove any size you want but we can’t guarantee they’ll all work.
Resizable widgets – depending on which OS and/or launcher you’re using, you can resize widgets. They’re not really designed for big changes but this should fix problem with third party launchers, mods, and other unexpected grid sizes.
Yeah. That was a lot. If you read this far, thank you. We’re going to be working hard over the next few weeks doing clean-up for this release and getting the new packs out. We’ll be at Google IO this month so if you get a chance stop by and say hi!
Last but not least, a big shout out and thank you to our new devs: Divyesh and Ajit. You guys are awesome!
We’ll have more soon I’m sure…