Music makes us better. Their widgets need to get better.
Music is a very important function of my phone, and it's the most important widget on my home screen. If I can only fit one widget on my screen around my totally awesome wallpapers, it's the music widget. Problem is, a lot of widgets from the top music streaming apps just don't look that great. They have buttons we don't need, they don't have the buttons we want, they don't resize well, and they just don't get along with a lot of themes.
Thankfully, we have choices.
Your media player runs in the foreground, so that it doesn't get killed when you switch from Spotify to Inbox. In order for it to run as a foreground service, your music player must provide a notification in your notification shade. These notifications let us control our music while we're in other apps, but they also are the lifeblood of third-party notifications.
Music widgets read your notifications and pull your current track information from them. Because notification access is an all or nothing thing, that also means that these third-party music widgets can see things like text message notifications and potentially sensitive information. That's why you'll have to grant them notification access manually and click yes on the warning pop-up each time you first run them. It's also why you also need to trust the music widget you install.
In exchange for trusting a third-party widget with notification access, you open your phone up to more fashionable and more flexible widgets. Among the wide variety in the Google Play Store, there are a few music widgets that I rotate through depending on the theme I'm currently rocking:
- Jack's Music Widget (Free, $1.99 is a simple music widget with a few tricks that help put it over first-party widgets. Firstly, Jack's has several styles for its widgets, including letting the album art determine the color scheme. I traditionally go with Clear, but with some themes you need the added contrast of Transparent. Jack's can pull in playback information and controls from more than just your primary music player, meaning one playback widget can control music, YouTube, or Netflix depending on what's active.
- KWGT (Free, $2.99) is a WYSIWYG widget editor where you can build your own widgets from scratch or use someone else's presets or Komponents. One of the beautiful things about KWGT is that you don't need a plugin to build a music widget, like Zooper needs Media Utilities. You can add extra controls beyond the standard play/pause/next/back buttons, such as the ability to rewind or outright stop a player. KWGT also has the ability to set a default player and hit play on your current queue even if the app isn't currently running in the foreground.
- Material Music Komponent (Free) is one of the many komponents for KWGT packaged for purchase in the Google Play Store, and after getting over some default placement oddities, it's actually become my favorite music widget when I have the space for it. Material's widget have set layouts, but are completely color customizable, so you can color-match your music widget to your wallpaper and the rest of your theme. You can even make them transparent colors, for added flexibility.
If you haven't taken a chance on a third-party music widget, there's no time like the present! Remember, life is too short for ugly widgets. If you've already jumped in, what widget are you using and why does it have a place on your home screen?