Everybody needs to take notes and Google’s first-party app is quite great thanks to its two new widgets. For starters, there’s the flower petal/x-shaped Quick Capture. The key to Google’s updated widgets, which conform to the new Material You design language, is that they are highly resizable (long-press and drag the circular indicators on each side). You can have a simple 3×1 shortcut to start a new text note, while 4×1 gives you the ability to immediately create a list, audio memo, drawing, or photo note.
After several years of many interactive homescreen elements remaining unaltered, Google is dramatically enhancing widgets on phones with the release of Android 12. Here are some of the best widgets for your new Android phone. Long-press an empty area on your homescreen and select “Widgets” to access these new and improved widgets, which are only available on Android 12 devices. To enjoy the greatest experience, make sure your phone and the aforementioned apps are all up to date. However, some are only available on Android 11 (and older), and a list of our top widgets for all phones and tablets can be found at the bottom of this page.
Meanwhile, there’s the Note List widget. The largest configuration shows you a feed of notes with shortcuts at the right. Making it narrower gives you just the list. This is useful for pinning any sort of list or reminder without having to jump into Keep every time. You can have “All notes” appear here, but there’s also the ability to just show “Pinned” notes, Reminders, or specific labels. (These widgets will lack the vertical row of shortcuts.)
You might not use Google for streaming tunes, but YouTube Music’s trio of widgets are worth trying. As always, there’s Now Playing with play/pause, next/last, and un/like. It’s now joined by a Turntable that shows album artwork in the center and quick play/pause and thumb up controls. Having your most recently played track makes for a nice widget. The real star of the show is Recently Played. The top half is controls and cover art, but the bottom is up to 10 of your most recently played tracks. It’s a very nice way to quickly start an album when the mood strikes you.
Like with Keep, having information always staring at you on the homescreen can be very handy. The Gmail widget lets you do just that with your inbox or specific folders, with emails serving as little reminders if you don’t use a dedicated client. The new homescreen object for Google’s email app lets you quickly “Archive,” and has shortcuts to jump into the Google Chat, Spaces, and Meet tabs, as well as compose. Most people will just use the latter one to start a new email, but the three other shortcuts might be useful depending on your workplace. If you shorten the widget, the shortcuts appear on the right edge instead of the bottom. However, you’ll only see two emails in this view.