May 1, 2014 - No Comments!

Introducing HD Widgets 4

HD Widgets 4 is rolling out from the Play Store starting today. There's some good stuff in there: updated UI, more weather information, and new widgets.

We actually have more, but there's a catch...

With over 800k active installs, we can't release HD Widgets to everyone all at once. It's just too risky for our small team. Instead, we're using Google's staged rollout system to release to limited portions of users per day over the next week or so.

After the rollout, there's even more coming. We just need to make sure everyone has access to HDW4.

So what's new? Let's find out.

The App

navigation & weather

The app got a huge overhaul, but we made sure not to change the WYSIWYG experience. Customization is still super fun and easy - just swipe and tap to make changes. Instead the update focused on modernizing HD Widgets and making it ready for KitKat and later. The most obvious updates will be side menu navigation and the weather screen.

Like our other apps, we've implemented side navigation for getting around the app. Side navigation has:

  • active widgets
  • widget theme packs
  • tools / settings
  • all of your weather locations
  • guides & support
  • news, links, & more apps

Our new weather screen was massively improved. We managed to fit a ton important information "above the fold" including current conditions, new hourly forecast graph, and daily forecasts.

The biggest update in the weather page is our new hourly forecast graph:

hourly forecast graph

We designed it to be really easy to tell what's happening day or night. The line graph shows temperature variance and chance of precipitation is displayed as little clouds above. Total available hours depends on weather service.

Tablets got a huge overhaul and match nicely to the classic phone look:

weather screen

You can see we moved city tabs from the top to the side nav menu, but you can still swipe between pages of cities. Daily forecasts have been extended up to 10 days and include short weather descriptions on all devices. Both the hourly graph and daily forecasts can extend beyond the width of your phone's screen - just swipe each to see more.

Moving along, you'll find tablet customization screens also found parity with phones:

preview screen: tablet

Previously, we tried to do a side-by-side layout for landscape tablets, but that was always really awkward. Fixed!

We changed how you can preview widget themes: they're now split up and organized by size (instead of everything at once). It's also more intuitive: if you're looking at a Colourform 4x1 widgets and switch to Glass Gems, you'll see 4x1 Glass widgets first.

pages

Finally, the app got a nice overhaul. It's hard to see in these screenshots, but pages have a dark gradient overlay that subtly reveals your live wallpaper behind it. Almost all pages have been improved: we added extra support links, expanded the user guide for different user levels, and settings are no longer generic.

Widgets

All widgets got a big layout overhaul. Instead of expand-to-fill, they're now constrained sizes. We had to make this change due to Samsung & HTC launcher grid sizes which tend to be very large and/or have unusual proportions.

We've also added a bunch of new widget features that you can use depending on which theme you're using, including single-column widgets, location based widgets, custom weather icons, and smart stats.

new widgets

location-based widgets and single-column widgets were the two most-often requested features

forecast icons

You can now select weather icon styles in Colorform and Kairo.  Not Glass Gems (yet).

smart weather stats

We're also experimenting with smart weather stats which change when unusual conditions are present.

The top widget is Fancy Clock w/ Smart Stats. It normally shows current weather & temperature, but will change if there's a weather alert or precipitation.

The bottom two are Weather w/ Smart Stats. Based on conditions these may display UV index, precipitation, chance of precipitation, humidity, wind, feels like temperature, and next sunrise / sunset.

Themes

As you may know, HD Widgets stars with Glass Gems, you can download Colourform, and Kairo is just around the corner. We're making big changes in how we do themes next week, so check back soon.

Here's what's new in each theme:

glass gems

Glass Gems got cleaned up. Android recently made it possible to use font families, so we're no longer limited to regular, bold, and italic text. I didn't want to change it too dramatically, so the changes are subtle. Fonts are lighter and switches have been updated to KitKat styles.

colourform

Colourform came out a year ago, so it was designed to match Ice Cream Sandwich and Jellybean... but with a lot of custom colors. Now that we have Kairo (for KitKat) it seemed like a good idea for Colourform to return to Jellybean style defaults. We removed a lot of extraneous color swatches so it should be easier to design something good quickly.

kairo

Kairo is our next theme. It's lighter, flatter, and energetic. It will be available as soon as we complete our rollout.

Wrap Up

We've made a lot of little improvements to HD Widgets this year and there's a lot more in store. We're planning to release many more themes and expansion packs during the year. Keep an eye out - stuff could be happening as early as next week.

Thanks everyone for supporting us for three great years of Android development. Here's to many more!

Big thanks to Helvetic for the icon designs.

Bonus: if you read this far, then you're in for a treat. Please check our beta group for details.

 Download HD Widgets now

Live Wallpapers we're using in the screenshots:

Mountains Now

Ocean HD

Published by: radley in Android, HD Widgets

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