Saturday, 20 October 2012

Widgetsoid alive and kicking, could use a finishing touch

Update with growing pains

Ultraversatile widget creator Widgetsoid received a massive update last week. Although the changes are not that spectacular, the app was completely rewritten and the format of the old widgets was no longer compatible with the new app. You had to rebuild all your widgets from scratch.

Widgetsoid can toggle WiFi, GPS, display brightness and just about anything else that can be toggled in Android. You can put shortcuts to apps and settings screens in widgets to make 'em take up less space than they would occupy as normal icons in your homescreen grid.

The update from v3 to v4 added two-storey widgets, among other things. And where the old Widgetsoid required a PhD in rocket science to create a widget, the new version made things a bit easier by simplifying the user interface. So now you only need an MSc degree to make it work.

Too bad the update was bitten by bugs so hard that I had to keep the old version for a while. The new edition made things crash a bit too often to be useful.

But now the bugs are squashed. Maybe not all of them, but the new Widgetsoid is ready for human consumption. The "rounded corners" option for widgets with custom colors still doesn't work, but that's a minor issue that bit all the previous versions too. The next step should be to make the app easier to use, and to stop cluttering the root folder of my microSD card.

Confusingly simple

The number of tabs in the widget building screen went down. A lot. All widget elements are now hidden under a single button called "toggles." Sounds simple, right? Unless you want to add a shortcut instead of a toggle. The shortcuts are counterintuitively hidden under a button called "Application" in the "Add New Toggle" screen.

Putting everything under one button labeled "toggles" is confusingly simple. Splitting the "add toggle" button into a toggle and a shortcut button would make things a lot easier to find.

And then the shortcut menu could use a facelift.

Hidden shortcuts

Adding a shortcut to a settings screen (bluetooth, WiFi, GPS, app manager, whatever) takes a confusing series of steps. First you have to hit "Add New Toggle" to add a shortcut that's not a toggle. Then you have to tap "Application" to add a shortcut that's not an aplication. Which lands you into a long list of apps, with some settings screen shortcuts in between.

But not all settings screens. For example, a shortcut to the Android app settings menu requires more than "simply" hitting "new toggle" and "application." When you're in the screen to add apps you have to hit the tiny little wrench icon on top of your screen to get a list of all possible settings shortcuts. This is so easy to overlook that you're likely to miss a lot of the possible settings shortcuts.

Wouldn't it be a lot easier if all shortcuts to settings were stacked under an entry called "settings" in the shortcut list instead of scattered in between your apps and hidden under an icon?

SD card clutter

The old Widgetsoid would create a single folder on your SD card. The folder was called ".widgetsoid" including the leading dot to hide it from some file managers. The new widgetsoid puts a folder called "Widgetsoid" on your memory card. No leading dot, so it appears in addition to the old folder.

So far, so good. Delete the old folder, stick with the new folder.

Until you add a settings shortcut from the hard-to-find settings list, because then Widgetsoid dumps a file called "dslv_state.txt" on your card. Not inside the Widgetsoid folder, but bang in the root of your memory card. As if things are not cluttered enough already with all those apps dumping files and folders there in a totally unorganised way.

I'd welcome a new Widgetsoid that would keep ALL its files in one single folder, with an option to let me choose the location of said folder so I can move it out of the way. SD/Android/data/Widgetsoid sounds like a good location for me. SD/Android/data/ is where many other apps put their folders so I don't have to scroll past them whenever I fire up a file manager to hunt down a PDF or text file.

Future Widgetsoid

Most bugs are fixed, now the user interface needs a minor overhaul and the SD card clutter should be cleaned up. The new Widgetsoid is a great app, but its present state resembles a beta test version

Widgetsoid v3.4.4 (old version, for if v4.x doesn't work for you)

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