Android 5.0 brought us notifications on our lock screen but took away the widgets so here is how you can enable lock screen widgets in Lollipop.
Lock screen notifications literally changed the way that a lot of us interacted with our smartphones every single day. There are stats out there that say some people were unlocking their smartphones a hundred times or so every single day. When asked why they are unlocking it so much, the majority of them would say that they are just checking their notifications.
There have been various 3rd party applications that have solved this in the KitKat and Jelly Bean days but those are no longer needed with Android 5.0 Lollipop. With the introduction of Lollipop, Google now brings all of our notifications to the lock screen. So now, all you have to do is turn on the display of the phone and BAM, there are your notifications.
You can read through them, swipe them away, save them for later or even tap on them and then unlock your phone to go directly into the application.
This takes a task that used to take 15-30 seconds and cuts it down to 1-5 seconds and this has made a lot of people happy. There are a ton of people who love how this is handled now and can’t see themselves going back to how things use to be(myself included). However, there’s also a segment of the community that dislikes this new feature because of one reason, lock screen widgets.
When Google brought notifications to the lock screen, they decided to get rid of the lock screen widgets. I’m not sure if this is because of an aesthetic reason. . .or maybe Google’s statistical data showed that very few people even used lock screen widgets. If you remember back, you had to dig through the settings menu of Android 4.4 KitKat and enable lock screen widgets before you could even use them. So if their stats showed that very few people used them, that might be why. We have to remember though, Android has billions of people using it so even just 1% of a billion people used it, that’s 10 million people.
This is where Notifidgets comes into play. It is a relatively new application that is available for free(with a 7-day trial) in the Google Play Store that tries to solve this dilemma. Notifidgets will take any widget that you can put on the home screen of your Android device and embed it into a notification for your viewing pleasure. Since notifications are visible in your lock screen now, we finally have a way to put our widgets back in our lock screen. Although, sometimes the implementation isn’t as great as you might like it to be. Let’s take a look at the application to see what I mean.
When you launch Notifidgets for the first time, you’re greeted with a list of all the widgets that you have available on your device. You can scroll through the list and then tap on the one that you want to use. I like how this application starts you by automatically having you pick a widget as it doesn’t allow for the user to fumble around the interface to find out how it all works. After you pick a widget, you’re given a prompt to allow or deny Notifidgets to have access to that widget. Be sure to read through this and make sure you don’t mind that the application knows the data going of the widget itself. Once you create the widget, you will see it take a little bit of time to create it and then you’ll see a preview of it right in the application.
The interface is easy to learn too. You can swipe left or right through the tabs of widgets that you create. When one is active, you’ll get a series of buttons at the bottom of the screen and each one is different for the various widgets that you can select. For example, with the Google Play widget, the wrench icon is available to tap on. If you tap it then it will allow you to change the type of Google Play Store widget that is selected. I choose recommendations but I could also have picked the My Library widget as well and this is how you can change between them. The green FAB at the bottom right will naturally let you create a new notification widget too. I’m not aware of any limit that can be created but I don’t see why there would be a limit since only one widget is visible at a time.
With Notifidgets, all of your chosen widgets will be available in every place that you would normally see notifications. As mentioned, only one widget is visible at a time and while this doesn’t completely replicate how lock screen widgets used to be done, it’s better than nothing. So let’s take a look at what these widgets look like in our regular notification panel.
Your notification widgets function exactly how the regular notifications do. So if there is a reason for your widgets to be collapsed, then that is what it will do(as you can see in the first image). Swiping down from the notification itself will expand it(just like all Lollipop notifications work) and then you’ll see your default/first widget. For test purposes I picked the FORM clock widget as it was something I wanted to cover here on Android Explained and I had it on my phone. In the third screen show you can see the Google Play Store recommendation widget and how its size compares to the first one. So the bigger your widget is, the bigger the notification will be when it is expanded.
You can also see some of the buttons that are in the corners of the notification itself. At the top left we have the Notifidgets icon which will take you to the Notifidgets application once you tap on it. At the top right you have a refresh button which will refresh the widget and this is sometimes needed as they won’t always update on their own. Generally they do a good job of refreshing on their own but this isn’t always the case. Then at the bottom left we have an arrow and that will take us back to the FORM widget from the previous screenshot. These left and right arrows let you cycle through all the widgets that you have added into the application.
Lock Screen Widgets
Now, you’re most likely here to see how the lock screen notifications look and I don’t blame you. While this is a nice little application, it’s the lock screen notifications that are important. Thankfully, the lock screen widgets work very similar to the regular notification widgets but there are a couple of things you might want to know about ahead of time.
Firstly, your lock screen widgets are going to be collapsed by default and that’s just how things are with Lollipop and notifications. So sadly, you won’t be able to pull the phone out, turn on the screen and just see the data on display in the widget. However, and this is exactly how Lollipop notifications work, all you have to do is swipe down on the notification and it will expand itself. Now, when I first started trying to do this, it kept trying to make me unlock the device first. I didn’t understand why at first but then I found out that it was because of a notification option that I had configured with in the settings of Android.
If you go into the Settings of Android, then go into the Notification section(at least that is where this setting is located in CM12) then there’s a feature in there that talks about how notifications are displayed when the device is locked. You have three options here, one allows you to show all notification content while the device is locked, another says to hide sensitive notification content while the device is locked(this is the option I had it on) and the last one says to not show notifications at all when the device is locked. So for me, when I had the hide sensitive notification content enabled, I wasn’t able to expand the notification widget without unlocking the device.
However, if you look at the third screenshot above then you’ll see that I ended up figuring it out and that was by selecting the show all notification content option here. This could be a deal breaker for a lot of people but it’s something that I thought was worth noting. Not everyone wants to have all of their notification content visible on the lock screen without unlocking the phone.
If we take a look at the settings of Notifidgets, we can see a lot of very awesome things to choose from. You might notice a ‘treat as sensitive’ option and think that this should solve the issue that I was having with the lock screen widget. I thought it would too but it actually doesn’t do anything for my LG G3 on CM12.1. I don’t know if it works differently on stock Android or maybe TouchWiz for Samsung devices but toggling this option didn’t help to resolve the issue that I experienced on the lock screen. I was really impressed with the amount of customization options that the developer included in the settings of this application because it really helps the user to modify the app to function the way they want it to.
The last thing that I wanted to mention about Notifidgets was the trial program. The application is free to download and free to use for 7 whole days. After that 7th day it will cease to function until you pay $0.99 to purchase it. I think this is very fair of the developer to do as it allows you to test out the functions for an extended period of time and make sure that it works how you would expect it to. If it doesn’t though, then you can simply uninstall it and not lose a dime. However, if the application works exactly how you want it to then all it will cost you is a dollar and that is easily worth the money to someone who truly misses the lock screen widgets on Android.
I want to hear what you think of Notifidgets now. Take some time to download it onto your smartphone or tablet and see if this is a worthy substitute for how lock screen widgets used to be. Then come back here and let me know your thoughts. Tell me the things that you like most about it and then talk about a few areas that you think it could be improved on.