One of the many things I liked about my last phone, the HTC One, was its lock screen weather widget. In a world of full-featured, minute-by-minute weather apps, it didn’t offer much: just the current temperature, the day’s projected high and low range, and an icon that indicated sun, rain, or snow. But it did exactly what I wanted. I could hit the power button on my way out the door and instantly gauge whether I should be grabbing a heavy coat or a light jacket, and whether I should worry about rain soaking my shoes. I retired the One last year, and months after switching to a shiny new Pixel, I’m constantly asking myself: why won’t Google let me do the same thing?
Google clearly understands that weather widgets are an inordinately useful little feature. A 2016 software update added one to the Pixel’s default home screen, where it serves my needs perfectly well. I just don’t understand why I need to unlock my phone to see it. I’m a little annoyed every time I turn on the screen and realize I need to enter my PIN — a two-handed process with my small palms — and exit whatever app I was last using, after years of having the same information available with a single tap.
Obviously, I’m aware that I could install a custom launcher, or get a persistent notification from an app like Dark Sky. I could also streamline the process by enabling the fingerprint reader, if I were willing to accept a major security vulnerability for the sake of convenience. And a few extra seconds of phone use is hardly one of my biggest concerns. I’m bringing this issue up because it’s one of the few moments where Google’s sleek, thoughtful, and attractive Pixel software design breaks down, and fixing it seems like such a minor tweak. Besides, I live somewhere that gets balmy 60 degree temperatures, blizzard warnings, and blizzard warning cancelations over the course of a single week. That morning weather check is serious business for me.