Friday, May 24, 2024

A possible look at Google Home’s upcoming Android widget

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Back in October, the Google Home app team said it was working on a homescreen widget. We might now have our first look at the design as Google at I/O 2024 worked to encourage widget adoption.

At the “Build beautiful Android widgets with Jetpack Glance” I/O 2024 session, Google laid out the case for adding widgets. The team also pointed out the popularity of widgets that are “helpful without any interaction at all.” 

Some of the most popular widgets offer a subset of information in a layout that can be consumed glanceably. If users are often launching your app just for a few seconds to get a status or a specific piece of information, this might be a sign your users would benefit from a glanceable widget.

For Google, great widgets are:

  • Helpful: “Users should be able to get something valuable from your widget without having to open your app.”
  • Simple: “Users shouldn’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out how to use your widget.”
  • Adaptive: “Ensure your widget works properly across the Android ecosystem of phones, tablets and foldables.”
  • Cohesive: “Make sure your widget is visually cohesive. Users are more likely to keep a widget that looks good and matches the overall design of their home screen.”
  • Discoverable: “Include high quality Previews and description to ensure users understand the value of your widget.”

On that point, we noticed in Android 15 Beta 2 how the Widgets picker is doing a better job of highlighting what’s available on your device with categories, like Essentials and Suggested for you. There are also visual tweaks to the widgets panel accessible when long-pressing on the app icon.

In terms of what’s new, there’s Jetpack-Glance 1.1 and the introduction of “components that take some of the work out of building foundational Ul elements.” Google is offering canonical widget layouts (seen above) that offer pre-built examples for developers to use. Layouts include Text, Lists, Grids, with more coming soon. 

Meanwhile, one slide during the session showed various first and third-party widgets. Everything on the screen from Google is live, including Keep, News, YouTube Music, Calendar, Gmail, Contacts, TV, Finance Watchlist, and Battery.

The exception is a widget that’s clearly for the Google Home app. We see the icon and home name at the top. Next is a 3×3 grid, with each card featuring a device icon type, name/location, and the state (on/off, live, temperature, locked). Automations can also appear for quickly triggering.

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