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Android reviving lockscreen widgets a decade later, but only on tablets [U]

1 month ago 69

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Back in the way earlier days of Android, Google supported the ability to run widgets on the lockscreen, but the functionality faded away in later releases. Now, Android seems to be reviving lockscreen widgets, as some early work shows.

Lockscreen widgets have, in the past couple of years, seen a resurgence in popularity largely thanks to Apple’s debut of limited widget functionality on the iOS lockscreen. Users are able to pick a handful of widget options to show data such as battery life, weather, sunrise/sunset, and more.

Back in the early 2010’s though, Android was letting users do basically anything with widgets on the lockscreen. You could pick any widget and slap it onto your lockscreen in a carousel of several widget options. This required no developer buy-in either, as it was just an extension of the usual widget system. However, Google removed that functionality when Android hit version 5.0 in 2014.

Now, it seems that’s coming back.

Android Authority (in January) showed off a new “communal” space in Android which is a part of the lockscreen accessible by swiping in from the right side. This space also opens up a new selector for Android widgets to be added to the lockscreen, though it doesn’t work with all widgets. It’s noted that widgets require the “keyguard” category to show up here. This was introduced in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, but because it’s gone unused for years, the functionality doesn’t appear in most apps. Apparently, it still works with the Google app as well as Calendar and Clock.

The screenshots below show some of what Google is working on, but it seems to be in very early days. Widgets appear without unlocking the device as expected, but they’re not formatted very well yet.

Further, it seems there will be a huge caveat to this all. Apparently, this form of lockscreen widgets in Android would only appear on large-screen devices, and specifically though with “Hub Mode” for use with docks. Right now, that pretty much only includes the Google Pixel Tablet.

Images: Android Authority

While a lot of this work is being done and is partially visible in Android 14’s latest beta releases, the rough state of the functionality suggests that it very likely will not be available anytime soon. More like is that Android 15 would see the return of lockscreens widgets. After Android 14’s fairly underwhelming debut in terms of new features, that’s certainly something to look forward to.

Update 4/12: Now, as Android 15’s first beta is also releasing, this feature is getting more work done. In Android 15 Beta 1, this feature is more fleshed out with improved support for widgets as well as confirming this is a feature designed specifically with tablets in mind.

By default, it appears that a select few widgets will be able to be used including battery, Google Calendar, Pixel Weather, Google News, Gmail, and an assortment of other Google apps. But a toggle will then allow “any” widget to be used, which currently includes several other Google apps, but not all apps.

This functionality still isn’t live by default on Android 15 Beta 1 on the Pixel Tablet, but it’s clear it’s on its way.

Images: Android Authority

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