As you may have noticed, the best and most useful Android widgets usually come bundled with quality apps in order to extend the functionality of them. There are of course superb standalone widgets, like Pure Messenger, SwitchPro and Beautiful Widgets, but they will set you back a few bucks. Nevertheless, there are plenty of cool widgets in the Market that are totally free as well: here is the top of the crops.
2011-02-01. Added Calendr and Circle Launcher.
2010-11-19. The guide to the top free Android widgets is now also available at AndroidAppolo.com with much more features, and the top paid widgets are included as well.
2010-11-11. Added Clockr – a minimalist clock widget.
2010-09-27. Added Desktop Visualizer, Weather Forecast Widget and Digital Clock Widget.
2010-09-16. Added AudioManager Widget, Multicon Widget, Smart Shortcuts Widget and D-Clock Widget.
Agenda Widget will show an agenda based on the calendar of your choice, and the widget has plenty of options. On top of that, it’s one of the better looking calendar widgets I’ve come across.
CalWidget. This calendar widget offers many sizes and it shows as many events as possible. It has a high rating on the Market, plenty of downloads and it works as advertised – but it’s not a particularly slick widget.
Countdown Widget will simply display the number of days left to an event that you look forward to, or dread. It may sound basic, but I can think of times when I would find this useful.
Calendr Widget. Inspired by the minimalist clock widget Clockr, Calendr will simply show your next upcoming event, and when you tap on the widget it will take you to the Android Calendar’s Agenda view. The widget refreshes itself every 30 minutes, in order to keep memory and CPU usage to a minimum. If you like minimalist design, and a clean and stylish homescreen, then Calendr likely is a fine addition to your widget arsenal.
Circle Launcher. CircleLauncher is one of those tools that will give you more space on your homescreen by letting you add apps and contacts to a single button. When you press the button, the apps or contacts will pop-up, and you’ll have the option to launch them. There are many other widgets with the same concept, but CircleLauncher is the most stylish one yet. It’s animated, customizable, and you can select any image for the launcher button icon.
Internal Phone Storage Widget. This widget is one of my favorites, and it tells you how much precious internal memory you got left. It’s particularly useful for those who have yet to receive the Android 2.2 Froyo update with support for installing apps to the SD card.
AudioManager Widget. This little widget comes in two sizes and it lets you manage your Android’s various volume settings, and provides live readings of the current volume levels. Tap on the widget to adjust the levels.
Dazzle Configurable Switcher. A widget that gives you quick access to your most commonly used settings is a very useful tool to have: it’s a real timesaver when you don’t have to go to Android’s main Settings screen to change the options you use daily. There are some great ones on the Market, such as SwitchPro and Extended Controls, that are both based on Android’s Power Control widget. But they cost money. There is one widget that is almost as good, and it’s free: Dazzle Configurable Switcher.
Launch-X Widget. For people who like to make the most use of the homescreen estate, Launch-X helps a lot. It’s a dock where you can put shortcuts to apps, contacts and bookmarks for quick access. It will only use a single row (4×1), but since the widget is scrollable, you can fit plenty in there and free up space on your homescreen.
Multicon Widget is another way to free up space on your desktop. It lets you add four different shortcuts on a 1×1 space.
Smart Shortcuts Widget. This widget helps you organize your homescreen and keep it tidy, by letting you tag shortcuts, bookmarks and contacts. You can then add a single shortcut, with the icon of your choice, that will show all the items for a specific tag. Sort of like Android’s default folders, but more advanced, customizable and useful.
Desktop Visualizer. This widget lets you create shortcuts with custom icons in basically any size, which can result in pretty unique and visually appealing homescreens. Here’s TechCredo’s LauncherPro/Desktop Visualizer tutorial.
Data Counter Widget keeps track of the network traffic on your device. It’s particularly useful if you don’t have an unlimited data plan.
Battery Left Widget. This one of the top three battery widgets for Android. All of them show a battery meter, but this one has its own angle: it attempts to estimate how much time you got left before you run out of juice. The other two widgets are BatteryLife and Battery Widget.
Weather Forecast Widget will as the name implies show weather forecasts right on your homescreen. Many weather apps naturally come with a bundled widget, but this can be an excellent complement.
Mippin Buzz Widgets. These widgets from news aggregator Mippin.com will show the latest news on various topics. If you click on an item, the full article will be displayed, and you’ll have the option to read more posts, and visit the news source. Here are the various Mippin Buzz Widgets:
Mobile Buzz | Tech Buzz | Gaming Buzz | Movie Buzz | News Buzz | Eco Buzz
Analog Clock Collection is a collection of 24 different analog clocks for your homescreen. All the clock widgets have a 2×2 size, and some of them are actually quite stylish. If you enjoy the look of analog clocks on your Android, you should definitely check it out. A benefit with this collection is that it doesn’t clutter up your list of widgets, since you just select Analog Clock Collection, and then you get to choose from the 24 different clock styles. I wish that widgets that come in different sizes would behave like that as well, and not add a separate entry for each size.
Digital World Clock Widget. If you have a HTC Sense device and actually use the default launcher instead of a homescreen replacement such as LauncherPro, you already have access to world clocks. But if you’re not, this widget will tell you what time it is in another part of the world. If you use the retro clock theme, it looks great as well.
myUTC Clock Widget is another world clock for your homescreen, and it’s equally good.
D-Clock Widget is basically just another digital clock, but it has a reflection and a nice look.
Digital Clock Widget is popular and highly rated clock in the Market that looks just like the one on the iPhone’s unlock screen.
Hero Clock 3 Widget is an analog clock that looks like one of those that is included with HTC Sense. Useful if you enjoy the look of HTC’s clocks, but you don’t have a Sense device, or if you prefer running a homescreen replacement app like LauncherPro or ADW Launcher.