Google finally overhauls widgets in Android 12
Google just pulled the wraps off some ravishing design changes in Android 12. The latest Android 12 beta brings a suite of visual changes, enabling users to personalize the interface on their devices with features such as Material You. In addition to the new UI, the latest version brings a much-awaited change to widgets in Android and the official announcement confirms repeated leaks and speculations we saw in the recent past. The new widgets in Android look more appealing and are more useful.
Google has reworked the Widgets API to enhance the user experience across different platforms, Android skins, and launchers. We see a consistent spread of the Google Sans font, flat icons, and cohesive color palettes, all of which together give widgets a more modern look.
Widgets in Android 12 get new dynamic controls allowing you to interact with checkboxes, radio buttons, and switches without entering an app. The widget picker will now also offer responsive previews for widgets of different sizes.
To align with the visual changes in Android 12, Google expects developers to implement widgets with rounded corners with padding. The new API also adds support dynamic coloring as part of the Material You theming engine, allowing widgets to adapt to the wallpaper, like other visual elements. Google has also removed the required configuration step when placing a widget on the home screen and has added a new API to construct backward-compatible widgets. More importantly, widgets can also use Android 12’s new color extraction feature to look more integrated with the user’s theme on the home screen.
Interestingly, the information from widgets can now be accessed by Google Assistant to offer quick insights using the Capabilities API. In a blog post, Google notes that Assistant will now be able to provide users with “one shot answers, quick updates, and multi-step interactions” by glancing over the information available in widgets. In the future, Android Auto will also be able to fetch information from widgets to provide you with contextual and relevant information while you’re driving.
Widgets have existed in Android since as early as Android 1.5 but the functionality and implementation remained fairly unchanged since the Android Ice Cream Sandwich days. So naturally, when the first Android 12 leaks indicated improvements to widgets, we were nothing less than excited.
Our expectations of Google taking lessons from Apple on how to improve widgets appear to have fared well. Considering this is just the first Android 12 beta, we hope to see more refinement in the coming beta builds before the final release.
For more Google I/O news, keep refreshing the homepage and something new will surely pop up!