Create a simple widget

App widgets are miniature application views that can be embedded in other applications (such as the home screen) and receive periodic updates. These views are referred to as widgets in the user interface, and you can publish one with an app widget provider (or widget provider). An app component that is able to hold other widgets is called an app widget host (or widget host). The following example shows a music widget.

Example of music widget
Figure 1: Example of a music widget

This document describes how to publish a widget using a widget provider. For details on creating your own AppWidgetHost to host app widgets, see Build a widget host.

For information about how to design your widget, see App widgets overview.

Widget components

To create a widget, you need the following basic components:

AppWidgetProviderInfo object
Describes the metadata for a widget, such as the widget's layout, update frequency, and the AppWidgetProvider class. Defined in the XML in this document.
AppWidgetProvider class
Defines the basic methods that allow you to programmatically interface with the widget. Through it, you will receive broadcasts when the widget is updated, enabled, disabled, or deleted. AppWidgetProvider is declared in the manifest and then implemented, as described in this document.
View layout
Defines the initial layout for the widget. Defined in XML, as described in this document.
App widget processing flow
Figure 2: App widget processing flow

In addition to the required basic components, if your widget needs user configuration you should implement the App Widget configuration activity. This activity allows users to modify widget settings (for example, the time zone for a clock widget).

Other optional but recommended improvements include flexible widget layouts, miscellaneous enhancements, advanced widgets, collection widgets, and building a widget host.

Declare the AppWidgetProviderInfo XML

The AppWidgetProviderInfo defines the essential qualities of a widget. Define the AppWidgetProviderInfo object in an XML resource file using a single <appwidget-provider> element and save it in the project's res/xml/ folder.

For example:

<appwidget-provider xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    android:minWidth="40dp"
    android:minHeight="40dp"
    android:targetCellWidth="1"
    android:targetCellHeight="1"
    android:maxResizeWidth="250dp"
    android:maxResizeHeight="120dp"
    android:updatePeriodMillis="86400000"
    android:description="@string/example_appwidget_description"
    android:previewLayout="@layout/example_appwidget_preview"
    android:initialLayout="@layout/example_loading_appwidget"
    android:configure="com.example.android.ExampleAppWidgetConfigurationActivity"
    android:resizeMode="horizontal|vertical"
    android:widgetCategory="home_screen"
    android:widgetFeatures="reconfigurable|configuration_optional">
</appwidget-provider>

Widget sizing attributes

The default home screen positions widgets in its window based on a grid of cells that have a defined height and width. Moreover, most home screens only allow widgets to take on sizes that are integer multiples of the grid cells (for example, 2 cells horizontally x 3 cells vertically).

The widget sizing attributes allow you to both specify a default size for your widget and provide lower and upper bounds on the size of the widget. In this context, the default size of a widget is the size that the widget will take on when it is first added to the home screen.

The following table describes the <appwidget-provider> attributes pertaining to widget sizing.

Attributes and description
targetCellWidth and targetCellHeight (Android 12), minWidth and minHeight
  • Starting in Android 12, the targetCellWidth and targetCellHeight attributes specify the default size of the widget in terms of grid cells. These attributes will be ignored in Android 11 and lower, and may be ignored if the home screen doesn’t support a grid-based layout.
  • The minWidth and minHeight attributes specify the default size of the widget in dp. If the values for a widget's minimum width or height don't match the dimensions of the cells, then the values are rounded up to the nearest cell size.
Note: We recommend specifying both the targetCellWidth/targetCellHeight and minWidth/minHeight sets of attributes, so that your app can fall back to using minWidth and minHeight if the user's device doesn’t support targetCellWidth and targetCellHeight. If supported, the targetCellWidth and targetCellHeight attributes take precedence over the minWidth and minHeight attributes.
minResizeWidth and minResizeHeight Specifies the widget's absolute minimum size. These values should specify the size under which the widget would be illegible or otherwise unusable. Using these attributes allows the user to resize the widget to a size that may be smaller than the default widget size. The minResizeWidth attribute is ignored if it is greater than minWidth or if horizontal resizing isn't enabled (see resizeMode). Likewise, the minResizeHeight attribute is ignored if it is greater than minHeight or if vertical resizing isn't enabled. Introduced in Android 4.0.
maxResizeWidth and maxResizeHeight Specifies the widget's recommended maximum size. If the values aren’t a multiple of the grid cell dimensions, they are rounded up to the nearest cell size. The maxResizeWidth attribute is ignored if it is smaller than minWidth or if horizontal resizing isn't enabled (see resizeMode). Likewise, the maxResizeHeight attribute is ignored if it is greater than minHeight or if vertical resizing isn't enabled. Introduced in Android 12.
resizeMode Specifies the rules by which a widget can be resized. You can use this attribute to make homescreen widgets resizeable—horizontally, vertically, or on both axes. Users long-press a widget to show its resize handles, then drag the horizontal and/or vertical handles to change its size on the layout grid. Values for the resizeMode attribute include horizontal, vertical, and none. To declare a widget as resizeable horizontally and vertically, use horizontal|vertical. Introduced in Android 3.1.

Example

To illustrate how the attributes in the preceding table affect widget sizing, assume the following specifications:

  • A grid cell is 30dp wide and 50dp tall.
  • The following attribute specification is provided.
<appwidget-provider xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    android:minWidth="80dp"
    android:minHeight="80dp"
    android:targetCellWidth="2"
    android:targetCellHeight="2"
    android:minResizeWidth=”40dp”
    android:minResizeHeight=”40dp”
    android:maxResizeWidth="120dp"
    android:maxResizeHeight="120dp"
    android:resizeMode="horizontal|vertical" />

Starting with Android 12:

We will use the targetCellWidth and targetCellHeight attributes as the default size of the widget.

The widget’s size will be 2x2 by default. The widget can be resized down to 2x1 or resized up to 4x3.

Android 11 and lower:

We will use the minWidth and minHeight attributes to compute the default size of the widget.

The default width = Math.ceil(80 / 30) = 3

The default height = Math.ceil(80 / 50) = 2

The widget’s size will be 3x2 by default. The widget can be resized down to 2x1 or resized up to take up the full screen.

Additional widget attributes

The following table describes the <appwidget-provider> attributes pertaining to qualities other than widget sizing.

Attributes and description
updatePeriodMillis Defines how often the widget framework should request an update from the AppWidgetProvider by calling the onUpdate() callback method. The actual update is not guaranteed to occur exactly on time with this value and we suggest updating as infrequently as possible—perhaps no more than once an hour to conserve the battery. For the full list of considerations to pick an appropriate update period, see Optimizations for updating widget content.
initialLayout Points to the layout resource that defines the widget layout.
configure Defines the activity that launches when the user adds the widget, allowing them to configure widget properties. See Enable users to configure widgets. (Starting in Android 12, your app can skip the initial configuration. See Use the widget's default configuration for details.)
description Specifies the description for the widget picker to display for your widget. Introduced in Android 12.
previewLayout (Android 12) and previewImage (Android 11 and lower)
  • Starting in Android 12, the previewLayout attribute specifies a scalable preview, which you’ll provide as an XML layout set to the widget's default size. Ideally, the layout XML specified as this attribute should be the same layout XML as the actual widget with realistic default values.
  • In Android 11 or lower, the previewImage attribute specifies a preview of what the widget will look like after it's configured, which the user sees when selecting the app widget. If not supplied, the user instead sees your application's launcher icon. This field corresponds to the android:previewImage attribute in the <receiver> element in the AndroidManifest.xml file.
Note: We recommend specifying both the previewImage and previewLayout attributes, so that your app can fall back to using previewImage if the user's device doesn’t support previewLayout. For more details, see Backward-compatibility with scalable widget previews.
autoAdvanceViewId Specifies the view ID of the widget subview that should be auto-advanced by the widget's host. Introduced in Android 3.0.
widgetCategory Declares whether your widget can be displayed on the home screen (home_screen), the lock screen (keyguard), or both. Only Android versions lower than 5.0 support lock-screen widgets. For Android 5.0 and higher, only home_screen is valid.
widgetFeatures Declares features supported by the widget. For example, if you’d like your widget to use its default configuration when a user adds it, specify both the configuration_optional and reconfigurable flags. This bypasses launching the configuration activity after a user adds the widget. (The user can still reconfigure the widget afterwards.)

Use the AppWidgetProvider class to handle widget broadcasts

The AppWidgetProvider class handles widget broadcasts and updates the widget in response to widget lifecycle events. The following sections describe how to declare AppWidgetProvider in the manifest and then implement it.

Declare a widget in the manifest

First, declare the AppWidgetProvider class in your application's AndroidManifest.xml file. For example:

<receiver android:name="ExampleAppWidgetProvider"
                 android:exported="true">
    <intent-filter>
        <action android:name="android.appwidget.action.APPWIDGET_UPDATE" />
    </intent-filter>
    <meta-data android:name="android.appwidget.provider"
               android:resource="@xml/example_appwidget_info" />
</receiver>

The <receiver> element requires the android:name attribute, which specifies the AppWidgetProvider used by the widget. The component should not be exported unless a separate process needs to broadcast to your AppWidgetProvider, which is usually not the case.

The <intent-filter> element must include an <action> element with the android:name attribute. This attribute specifies that the AppWidgetProvider accepts the ACTION_APPWIDGET_UPDATE broadcast. This is the only broadcast that you must explicitly declare. The AppWidgetManager automatically sends all other widget broadcasts to the AppWidgetProvider as necessary.

The <meta-data> element specifies the AppWidgetProviderInfo resource and requires the following attributes:

  • android:name: Specifies the metadata name. Use android.appwidget.provider to identify the data as the AppWidgetProviderInfo descriptor.
  • android:resource: Specifies the AppWidgetProviderInfo resource location.

Implement the AppWidgetProvider class

The AppWidgetProvider class extends BroadcastReceiver as a convenience class to handle widget broadcasts. It receives only the event broadcasts that are relevant to the widget, such as when the widget is updated, deleted, enabled, and disabled. When these broadcast events occur, the following AppWidgetProvider methods are called:

onUpdate()
This is called to update the widget at intervals defined by the updatePeriodMillis attribute in the AppWidgetProviderInfo. (See the table describing additional widget attributes in this document).
This method is also called when the user adds the widget, so it should perform the essential setup, such as define event handlers for View objects or start a job to load data to be displayed in the widget. However, if you have declared a configuration activity without the configuration_optional flag, this method is not called when the user adds the widget, but is called for the subsequent updates. It is the responsibility of the configuration activity to perform the first update when configuration is complete. (See Creating a widget configuration activity.)
The most important callback is onUpdate(). See Handle events with the onUpdate() class in this document for more information.
onAppWidgetOptionsChanged()

This is called when the widget is first placed and any time the widget is resized. Use this callback to show or hide content based on the widget's size ranges. Get the size ranges—and, starting in Android 12, the list of possible sizes a widget instance can take—by calling getAppWidgetOptions(), which returns a Bundle that includes the following:

onDeleted(Context, int[])

This is called every time a widget is deleted from the widget host.

onEnabled(Context)

This is called when an instance the widget is created for the first time. For example, if the user adds two instances of your widget, this is only called the first time. If you need to open a new database or perform another setup that only needs to occur once for all widget instances, then this is a good place to do it.

onDisabled(Context)

This is called when the last instance of your widget is deleted from the widget host. This is where you should clean up any work done in onEnabled(Context), such as delete a temporary database.

onReceive(Context, Intent)

This is called for every broadcast and before each of the preceding callback methods. You normally don't need to implement this method because the default AppWidgetProvider implementation filters all widget broadcasts and calls the preceding methods as appropriate.

You must declare your AppWidgetProvider class implementation as a broadcast receiver using the <receiver> element in the AndroidManifest. See Declare a widget in the manifest in this document.

Handle events with the onUpdate() class

The most important AppWidgetProvider callback is onUpdate() because it is called when each widget is added to a host (unless you use a configuration activity without the configuration_optional flag). If your widget accepts any user interaction events, then you need to register the event handlers in this callback. If your widget doesn't create temporary files or databases, or perform other work that requires clean-up, then onUpdate() may be the only callback method you need to define. For example, if you want a widget with a button that launches an activity when clicked, you could use the following implementation of AppWidgetProvider:

Kotlin

class ExampleAppWidgetProvider : AppWidgetProvider() {

    override fun onUpdate(
            context: Context,
            appWidgetManager: AppWidgetManager,
            appWidgetIds: IntArray
    ) {
        // Perform this loop procedure for each widget that belongs to this
        // provider.
        appWidgetIds.forEach { appWidgetId ->
            // Create an Intent to launch ExampleActivity.
            val pendingIntent: PendingIntent = PendingIntent.getActivity(
                    /* context = */ context,
                    /* requestCode = */  0,
                    /* intent = */ Intent(context, ExampleActivity::class.java),
                    /* flags = */ PendingIntent.FLAG_UPDATE_CURRENT or PendingIntent.FLAG_IMMUTABLE
            )

            // Get the layout for the widget and attach an on-click listener
            // to the button.
            val views: RemoteViews = RemoteViews(
                    context.packageName,
                    R.layout.appwidget_provider_layout
            ).apply {
                setOnClickPendingIntent(R.id.button, pendingIntent)
            }

            // Tell the AppWidgetManager to perform an update on the current
            // widget.
            appWidgetManager.updateAppWidget(appWidgetId, views)
        }
    }
}

Java

public class ExampleAppWidgetProvider extends AppWidgetProvider {

    public void onUpdate(Context context, AppWidgetManager appWidgetManager, int[] appWidgetIds) {
        // Perform this loop procedure for each widget that belongs to this
        // provider.
        for (int i=0; i < appWidgetIds.length; i++) {
            int appWidgetId = appWidgetIds[i];
            // Create an Intent to launch ExampleActivity
            Intent intent = new Intent(context, ExampleActivity.class);
            PendingIntent pendingIntent = PendingIntent.getActivity(
                /* context = */ context,
                /* requestCode = */ 0,
                /* intent = */ intent,
                /* flags = */ PendingIntent.FLAG_UPDATE_CURRENT | PendingIntent.FLAG_IMMUTABLE
            );

            // Get the layout for the widget and attach an on-click listener
            // to the button.
            RemoteViews views = new RemoteViews(context.getPackageName(), R.layout.example_appwidget_layout);
            views.setOnClickPendingIntent(R.id.button, pendingIntent);

            // Tell the AppWidgetManager to perform an update on the current app widget.
            appWidgetManager.updateAppWidget(appWidgetId, views);
        }
    }
}

This AppWidgetProvider defines only the onUpdate() method for the purpose of creating a PendingIntent that launches an Activity and attaching it to the widget's button with setOnClickPendingIntent(int, PendingIntent). Notice that it includes a loop that iterates through each entry in appWidgetIds, which is an array of IDs that identify each widget created by this provider. In this way, if the user creates more than one instance of the widget, then they are all updated simultaneously. However, only one updatePeriodMillis schedule will be managed for all instances of the widget. For example, if the update schedule is defined to be every two hours, and a second instance of the widget is added one hour after the first one, then they will both be updated on the period defined by the first one and the second update period will be ignored (they'll both be updated every two hours, not every hour).

Also see the ExampleAppWidgetProvider.java sample class.

Receive widget broadcast Intents

AppWidgetProvider is just a convenience class. If you would like to receive the widget broadcasts directly, you can implement your own BroadcastReceiver or override the onReceive(Context,Intent) callback. The Intents you need to care about are as follows:

Create the widget layout

You must define an initial layout for your widget in XML and save it in the project's res/layout/ directory. You can design your widget using the View objects listed in the following sections. Refer to Design guidelines for details.

Creating the widget layout is simple if you're familiar with layouts. However, be aware that widget layouts are based on RemoteViews, which do not support every kind of layout or view widget. Descendants of the remotable classes are not supported.

RemoteViews also supports ViewStub, which is an invisible, zero-sized View you can use to lazily inflate layout resources at runtime.

Support for stateful behavior

Android 12 adds new support for stateful behavior using the following existing components:

The widget is still stateless. Your app must store the state and register for state change events.

Example of shopping list widget showing stateful behavior
Figure 3: Example of stateful behavior

The following code example shows how to implement these components.

Kotlin

// Check the view.
remoteView.setCompoundButtonChecked(R.id.my_checkbox, true)

// Check a radio group.
remoteView.setRadioGroupChecked(R.id.my_radio_group, R.id.radio_button_2)

// Listen for check changes. The intent will have an extra with the key
// EXTRA_CHECKED that specifies the current checked state of the view.
remoteView.setOnCheckedChangeResponse(
        R.id.my_checkbox,
        RemoteViews.RemoteResponse.fromPendingIntent(onCheckedChangePendingIntent)
)

Java

// Check the view.
remoteView.setCompoundButtonChecked(R.id.my_checkbox, true);

// Check a radio group.
remoteView.setRadioGroupChecked(R.id.my_radio_group, R.id.radio_button_2);

// Listen for check changes. The intent will have an extra with the key
// EXTRA_CHECKED that specifies the current checked state of the view.
remoteView.setOnCheckedChangeResponse(
    R.id.my_checkbox,
    RemoteViews.RemoteResponse.fromPendingIntent(onCheckedChangePendingIntent));

Provide two different layouts, with one targeting devices running Android 12 or higher (res/layout-v31) and the other targeting previous Android 11 or lower (in the default res/layout folder).

Implement rounded corners

Android 12 introduces the following system parameters to set the radii of your widget's rounded corners:

The following example shows a widget that uses system_app_widget_background_radius for the corner of the widget and system_app_widget_inner_radius for views inside the widget.

Widget showing radii of the widget background and views inside the widget
Figure 4: Rounded corners

1 Corner of the widget.

2 Corner of a view inside the widget.

Important considerations for rounded corners

  • Third-party launchers and device manufacturers can override the system_app_widget_background_radius parameter to be smaller than 28dp. The system_app_widget_inner_radius parameter will always be 8dp less than the value of system_app_widget_background_radius.
  • If your widget doesn’t use @android:id/background or define a background that clips its content based on the outline (with android:clipToOutline set to true), the launcher tries to automatically identify the background and clip the widget using a rectangle with rounded corners of up to 16dp. See Ensure your widget is compatible with Android 12).

To ensure widget compatibility with previous versions of Android, we recommend defining custom attributes and using a custom theme to override them for Android 12, as shown in the following examples of XML files:

/values/attrs.xml

<resources>
  <attr name="backgroundRadius" format="dimension" />
</resources>

/values/styles.xml

<resources>
  <style name="MyWidgetTheme">
    <item name="backgroundRadius">@dimen/my_background_radius_dimen</item>
  </style>
</resources>

/values-31/styles.xml

<resources>
  <style name="MyWidgetTheme" parent="@android:style/Theme.DeviceDefault.DayNight">
    <item name="backgroundRadius">@android:dimen/system_app_widget_background_radius</item>
  </style>
</resources>

/drawable/my_widget_background.xml

<shape xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
  android:shape="rectangle">
  <corners android:radius="?attr/backgroundRadius" />
  ...
</shape>

/layout/my_widget_layout.xml

<LinearLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
  ...
  android:background="@drawable/my_widget_background" />