Creating Performance-driven Android Widgets

android-tutorial

One thing that makes Android apps so much fascinating and unique is its integration of app widgets. According to the Android documentation:

“ App Widgets are miniature application views that can be embedded in other applications (such as the Home screen) and receive periodic updates”

Widgets are quite helpful when it comes to enhancing the overall performance of an app. They are most commonly used on home screens or lock screens and react to touch events. Widgets also help us boost our level of interactivity with our Android phone and help us receive all the essential info or notifications in the quickest possible manner. Using them, you can instantly style your home screen and make it more useful. By providing you at-a-glance information, widgets can help its users save a lot of time and efforts as they don’t need to open the app completely to receive the information they have been looking for.

Widgets have been around for quite a while and proved to be extremely resourceful when it comes to multiply the capabilities of Android apps to several notches. Their miniature nature makes it easy for developers to add them to a number of applications for receiving frequent updates.

In this post, I will show you how to create a widget for your Android app. I hope you find my tutorial easy and helpful.

So, let’s start!

1. Configure you app widget definition

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To begin with, create and configure the app widget configuration file for your app widget. It’s an easy process, all you need is- just create a new file with a name /res/xml/tutlist_appwidget.xml with the project, just like this:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”utf-6″?>

<appwidget-provider

xmlns:android=”schemas.android.com/apk/res/android”

android:minWidth=”230dp”

android:minHeight=”71dp”

android:updatePeriodMillis=”863200000″

android:initialLayout=”@layout/tutlist_appwidget_layout”>

</appwidget-provider>

2. Creating the app widget layout

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Here, you need to define the layout for your app widget in XML and save it inside a directory called res/layout. Creating an app widget isn’t a difficult task, especially when you are aware of the ins and outs of Layouts. The following formula will help you fabricate your app layout.

((Number of columns/rows)* 74)- 2

Here, number of columns and rows are independent pixels of a device. The option “-2” helps in reducing the chances of rounding errors. Since, an app widget layout is based on RemoteViews , so it restricts developers’ ability to play around with every kind of layout.

A RemoteViews object is only compatible with four types of layout classes. They are:

  • FrameLayout
  • LinearLayout
  • RelativeLayout
  • GridLayout

3. Configure your Android app widget

In this step, a broadcast receiver must be created which contains an intent filter for the action being process. Create this broadcast in android.appwidget.action.APPWIDGET_UPDATE file. And add the following code to the same.

<receiver

android:icon=”@drawable/icon”

android:label=”Example Widget”

android:name=”MyWidgetProvider” >

<intent-filter >

<action android:name=”android.appwidget.action.APPWIDGET_UPDATE” />

</intent-filter>

<meta-data

android:name=”android.appwidget.provider”

android:resource=”@xml/widget_info” />
</receiver>

In the above code, an intent filter has been added and enabled, making it possible for app widgets to provide updates on a regular basis. Lastly, we have made it clear that it’s the XML file where the major widget settings resides.

4. Installing the app widget

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In the last step, you need to install the application on your Android-powered device and then use the Android launcher to deploy the new app widget on the home screen of the device. Also, make sure you test the functionality of the widget on a regular basis and fix it immediately if any deviation occurs.

Things to keep in mind while using widgets

Widgets can consume resources, bandwidth, and battery life, so it is crucial to ensure that your created widgets don’t eat much battery of the device your users are using. Design them minimally so that an optimum experience can be offered.

Excess of widgets can also make your home screen look messy or consume a lot of space, forcing you to install another launcher to create an additional space.

To Conclude

All said and done! I hope you find my tutorial easy to follow and will surely bookmark it for any future reference. As app widgets are blessed with some outstanding functionalities, they can instantly take your application browsing experience to a new level. So, make sure you create them and give a boost to your application’s performance.

Juana Steves is an expert Android programmer for Xicom Technologies – android application development company. You can contact her to hire android developer with her best assistance and guidance.

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