Essential Widgets

One of my favorite features in Android is the ability to use widgets to help display information that is vital to me.  I’m guessing there are thousands of different applications that come with built-in widgets.  The two that I am focusing on today are not part of an app…they are stand alone products that offer exactly what I need when it comes to reviewing phones.

Signal Strength Widget

The Signal Strength widget has been one of my best finds over the course of this past week.  I have been testing the Samsung Infuse 4G on AT&T the past few days.  One of my biggest gripes is the fact that H+ is always showing in the notification bar regardless of the 3G network I am connected to.

Instead of constantly checking: Settings – About phone – Status to find out the network that I am actually connected to I just use the widget.  Every piece of information I could need is found on the 1×1 widget.

The widget is broken down in to 10 bars (easy and quick to judge), dBm levels, and an icon denoting GPRS, Edge, 3G, HSPA, EvDO, 1xRtt depending on which network your phone is on.  Currently LTE or CDMA eHRPD are not represented yet.  I was unable to test whether or not WiMax was represented either.


Android 2.3 Gingerbread finally brought a very well designed battery monitoring solution.  When checking the status of the battery Google added a nice graphical representation of battery life and what has been using the battery.  On all the versions prior to Gingerbread the battery statistics reset themselves upon rebooting the phone.  Unfortunately that makes it nearly impossible for me to accurately report back to you the “real-world” battery times if this information is missing.

JuicePlotter allows me to keep a running total of battery life through multiple days, showing me which connections have been using the most battery, if my CPU has been running full speed, and even what temperature my phone has been running.

JuicePlotter can show increments between 30 minutes and 4 hours, the values are changed by swiping up or down.  The graph is broken down into the following options:

  • Analytics: On/Off – if this is off, nothing is tracked
  • Battery: Battery level (running totals)
  • CPU: Rough clock speeds
  • NET: Network usage
  • Temp: Temp
  • 24 hours: Shows just the past 24 hours