An Idea for Bringing Consistency to Widgets

Backgrounds!

At the moment, widgets on Android come in all different sizes, shapes and styles - and they often don't sit nicely together on your homescreen. They don't align well and can clash with the theme you've chosen. This can look a little messy.

One way I think of bringing a more consistent - and universally customisable - look and feel to widgets is to introduce a plain background on top of which widget content would be displayed.

This background would be customisable at the system level, i.e. in a "personalisation" category in system settings. It would be an option ticked by default and the background preset to a light transparent white (in keeping with the Google Experience launcher on the Nexus 5). However you could change the background colour and tweak the transparency level to your liking. This means you could get rid of the background if you don't like it with a simple tap to untick for a completely transparent look. There would also need to be an option for font colour to maintain readability. So the background would be completely customisable except for size which would be fixed to ensure alignment.

Taking this idea a little further, background settings could also be made customisable for each individual widget in the app's own settings. This would be useful for unusually shaped widgets like the stock Gallery app widget say or a flashlight widget where a completely transparent background (no background at all) might be preferable.

Having this widget background concept in place, developers would have fixed parameters around which to design and place their app's content.

The success of this idea still depends on developers getting onboard. However at least they would now have something to work with rather than having to put together the elements of a widget from scratch with nothing to guide them.

My hope is that developers would look at the excellent example set by the cards in Google Now as a style guide. Then we could all have highly functional and beautiful user experience with our homescreens.

What do you think?

(I have also posted this on Google+ but thought I would share it here because it seems a lot of you aren't fans of Google's social network/identity layer for the internet) :-)