Widgets have been a fundamental part of Android since version 1.0 of 2008, but they are still unknown to many people. If you don’t know what Android widgets are or how to use them, you’ve come to the right place.

Widgets aren’t the most popular and that’s why those new to Android sometimes don’t even know they exist, only using icons on their home screen. Considering that some widgets are extremely useful, it’s a shame to miss out on their potential.

What is a Widget

Don’t let the generic name fool you. In English, widgets are called small gadgets or gadgets with a specific function but which do not have a specific name. In the software world, the word has been adopted for small applications that generally display information or allow interaction with a service. For example, a floating clock or a weather forecast.

On Android, widgets are small blocks that you can include on your home screen, linked to an application. They can display information such as your upcoming calendar events or allow you to perform certain actions from the home screen, such as turning off Wi-Fi or starting a WhatsApp conversation with a specific contact.

Two examples of widgets: one displaying the weather and the other showing suggestions on Netflix

Widgets are a separate app or part of an app. Your mobile may come with a few pre-installed applications, in addition to those included in the pre-installed applications. Also, new apps you install may include widgets, and there are even apps whose sole purpose is to act as a widget to spice up your home screen, like Zooper Widget.

How to add widgets

Before you get down to business, you should know that the support for widgets and how they are added to the home screen is entirely dependent on the launcher. The launcher is nothing but the application responsible for showing you the applications you have installed and allowing you to launch them. This is also where widgets are displayed.

We’ll show you how to add widgets in different options, but depending on the brand of your mobile – and therefore its personalization layer – the windows, options and processes may vary. If you can’t find the option, let us know in the comments.

One method that works in most launchers is to long-press on the desktop, without touching any apps (i.e. empty space). You’ll usually see a menu at the bottom, including the Widgets button.

Launch options in TouchWiz (left) and Nova Launcher (right)

The widget picker also varies from launcher to launcher, although it usually shows an alphabetical list of all the apps you have installed that include widgets. Some apps include multiple widgets, usually of different sizes.

Widgets come in different sizes based on a grid. 1 x 1 is equivalent to a square and the space occupied by an icon, while 4 x 1 is generally equivalent to an entire line, i.e. the entire width. The largest widgets are a 4×4 block.

Widget selector in Touchwiz (left) and in Nova Launcher (right)

When you find a widget you’re interested in, long press it to add it to your home screen. You will need to find a location with enough space for the size of the widget you are adding. Drop the widget to add it to the home screen.

Some launchers allow you to resize widgets, at least some of them. It’s an option that will appear the first time you add the widget and can be repeated later by long-pressing it.

How to delete widgets

Removing widgets from the home screen is just as easy. All you need to do is long-press on the widget in question, then scroll to the X button, trash can icon, or similar prompts. In some launchers, you even have a Delete menu.

Deleting a widget in Nova Launcher

Now that you know how to add and remove widgets, where do you find good widgets? If you’re not sure where to start, we’ve compiled 17 particularly useful widgets in this article that you can add to your home screen.