Adding Useful Widgets to Your Android Tablet

By Dan Gookin

Your Android tablet features a wide assortment of widgets with which to festoon the Home screen. They can be exceedingly handy, although you may not realize it because the sample widgets often included with the tablet are weak and unimpressive.

Good widgets to add include navigation, contact, eBook, and web page favorites. Adding any of these widgets starts out the same. Here are the brief directions:

  1. Long-press a Home screen page that has room for a widget.

    The widget’s sizes are shown on the widget’s screen.

  2. Choose Widgets.
  3. Drag a widget to the Home screen.
  4. Complete the process.

The process is specific for each type of widget suggestion you find below.

Directions widget

The Maps/Directions widget allows you to quickly summon directions to a specific location from wherever you happen to be. After you add the widget to the Home screen, select a traveling method and destination. You can type a contact name, an address, a business name, and so on. Add a shortcut name, which is a brief description to fit under the widget on the Home screen. Tap the SAVE button.

Tap the Directions widget to use it. Instantly, the Maps app starts and enters Navigation mode, steering you from wherever you are to the location referenced by the widget.

Contact widget

For your most popular contacts, consider adding a contact widget: Add the Contact widget to the Home screen, and then select the specific contact from the tablet’s address book. A widget representing the contact (with the contact’s picture, if available) appears on the Home screen. Tap the widget to display information about the contact, along with an email link, a phone number, a map location, and other details supplied for that contact.

eBook widget

When you’re mired in the middle of that latest potboiler, put a Google Play Books/Book shortcut on the Home screen: Choose the Book widget, and then select which eBooks in your digital library you want to access. Tap the widget to open the Play Books app and jump right into the book at the spot where you were last reading.

Web bookmark widget

For your favorite websites, consider adding a Home page widget. You can use a bookmarks widget, such as Chrome/Chrome Bookmarks, found on the Widgets screen. Even so, an easier shortcut is to open the web browser app, navigate to the page you desire, and then tap the Action Overflow and choose Add to Home Screen.