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What's the Difference Between Android Apps & Widgets?

Written by HeavenlyAndroid   
Saturday, 16 July 2011 06:00

One of the neatest things about owning an android phone is the widgets and apps (short for applications) that can transform your smartphone into anything you wish it to be (within reason of course!). A wealth of information can be available on your homescreen; clock, news, calendar, local weather, your nearest and dearest's whereabouts etc. Alternatively you may prefer to have a dedicated Facebook/Twitter or music and video homescreen.

Android phones normally come with a selection of widgets pre-installed for your convenience, and a small selection of android apps in your app drawer (a screen with a list of all your installed apps, from where you launch the app). Apps are also referred to as icons, and both apps/widgets can be removed or placed elsewehere on your homescreen to suit your needs. There are over 250,000 apps and widgets to buy, or which are free, from numerous Android App stores such as Google Android Market. To lots of people, android apps and android widgets are one and the same, but they aren't the same and there are some differences.

Below is a YouTube video, courtesy of which gives a fantastic explanation of apps and widgets.


Widgets always reside on your android phone's homescreen, where they can be instantly accessed and are always open. Information can be seen at a glance, any time you're on the homescreen, or you might have to tap the app for it to refresh, either way you don't have to open them. They can take up a whole homescreen but more often they are quite small and you can fit a whole bunch of them on one screen. They're often part of an application. Your android phone's UI (user interface) is a type of application on which lots of widgets sit.

Widgets are comparable to a data feed, constantly running in the background (with a few exceptions such as HTC Fake Call widget) and updating on your homescreen, so a weather app will always show you the most up-to-date weather and a clock will always show you the correct time. If you have several homescreens and switch to a different one to access a widget, it will take a few seconds for the widget to refresh and update.

Information widgets show may be pulled from a corresponding app. For example; you may have a great music app where you can make your own playlist of fave tunes, this app may also have a widget from where you can access your playlist fast, at any time, without having to sift through your apps and open your music app.

There's no doubting the convenience of widgets; always there where you need them, always telling you what you want to know, always open!



An app is a small piece of software that runs on the top of an operating system and can connect to wifi. An app was usually a tool that did something useful, until smartphones bought a whole new arena of fun/social apps to add to the equation.

Apps are found in android app stores/markets, of which there are many. You can lose countless hours as you browse 1,000's of apps, spoilt for choice in this virtual shop full of goodies. Google Android Market is the default app store to choose your apps from and promises to be more secure/trusted than third party app stores, although android viruses have been found in apps from Google Android Market just lately. To allow yourself a little piece of mind it is worth installing Lookout Mobile Security android app before you start selecting others. Lookout will then scan all other apps that you do download and install.

Apps are found on a dedicated app screen (app drawer), although you can create a shortcut to an app by simply dragging/placing it onto your homescreen, more convenient if it's an app you use on a regular basis. They often consist, in part, of one or more widgets. Apps use a full screen when opened/launched, which you need to do before you can use their contents. They're often more interactive than widgets, with options to share information, upload your scores to global scoreboards, comment on, and even publish your own content within an app.

Apps can be native to a certain operating system, such as Apple (iOS), BlackBerry, Nokia (symbian), and of course Android. Apps will only work on the operating system they were designed for and have to be made into multiple software programmes for them to work on multiple systems. Lots of messaging apps rely on multi-platform software to enable the success of their app, allowing Blackberry, Apple, Android, Nokia owners to text or ptt (push-to-talk) each other.

You're bound to get hooked on apps once you have sampled a few, although there is a snag! Unless your android phone has plenty of internal memory, or you have a large enough sd card to house them, you may find yourself having no choice other than to cull your apps, uninstalling as often as you install!


Last Updated ( Sunday, 04 December 2011 16:09 )

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