Components of a useful Widget (follow-up on "Are widgets useful to you"?)
I’ve decided to respond to your awesome comments for "Are widgets useful to you?" by posting a separate one, since the forum doesn’t have any kind of notification system for replies to comments.
Summary of your opinions:
1. You guys never really used widgets on Vista/Dashboard. (except for the sticky notes)
2. Many Android users also find widgets functionally useless / clunky in implementation.
3. But there are Android users who find "shortcuts to certain features of an app" useful.
4. Many of you are looking forward to how widgets will be implemented in iOS 8.
My interpretation is that many Android widgets are redundant and therefore don’t have much value. Your opinions and experiences have inspired me to come up with three components that make a useful widget:
1. Widgets need to be accessible everywhere without interrupting the foreground activity. That makes it fast and efficient. The primary reason of existence for widgets.
2. Widgets need to be an one-stop task instead of a continuous activity. In other words, it has to be something that can be completed - something that has an "end".
e.g. Posting a Tweet deserves a widget but scrolling the Twitter feed is a continuous activity. Quickly writing down your thoughts using Day One deserves a widget but looking thorough your diaries doesn’t. Sure, you will certainly stop scrolling your SNS feeds or reading articles at some point, but you don’t(can’t) complete any task.
3. Widgets shouldn’t be displays of new information. New or constantly updating information(e.g. sport scores, bid prices on eBay) are better served by push notifications because the notifications serve as reminders for the user. You tap it, and you go into the app which provides more details and all the necessary functionality.
e.g. Countdown apps will be far more useful if they sent a push notification on the lock screen at user-defined times at user-defined intervals. Once you see it on the lock screen and unlock it, it’s gone. The same goes for news apps. I seriously hope News apps don’t come up with widgets that show one or two breaking news. Again, these are much better served by push notifications. Even the eBay widget demonstrated during WWDC is not useful because you constantly have to remind yourself to check it, to make it useful. Push notifications work better.
Can you think of some examples where certain apps that you use everyday fit/don’t fit into these components?
Do you agree with my components of what makes a widget useful?
Are there any other components you may have thought of?
I do read all your comments and hope you guys will keep coming back to see if others have replied because I don’t wanna put up follow-up posts all the time. Thanks!