Creating a Widget for your Android App

Having a widget for your app, not only helps it to stand out among its alternatives but also provides user information on the go without having to open the app. Keeping this thought in mind, I decided to make a widget for my GSoC project. Let’s go through the steps involved.

Step 1:

Creating a new widget from Android Studio.

Open up your project for which you need a widget and navigate to the project’s Java source. Create a new sub-package there named widget. Right click on the newly created sub-package and select the New->Widget option from there.

new_widget

Follow the instructions on the next screen.

screenshot-area-2016-07-30-002554
Most of the fields here are pretty much self explanatory. After doing this and running the app in your device, you will be able to see a widget for your app in the widget picker.
Screenshot_20160730-003515_01

 

Just kidding, this was the easy part, off to more harder things now!

Step 2:

Populating the widget with data.

Now, there can be 2 broad type of widgets Information Widgets and Collection Widgets.

Information widgets are simple widgets that are used to display an information that changes with time, for example Weather Widget or a Clock Widget.

Whereas, collection widgets are widgets which display a collection of data, for example the GMail widget is a collection widget.
These are relatively complex and harder than the Information Widgets.

In this post, we will focus on making a Collection Widget.

For Collection widgets, we need two layout files, one for the widget and one for each item in the widget collection.

Go ahead and create the two layout files. The wizard automatically generates the widget_layout.xml for you, you just need to edit it up.

stock_layout.xml
<LinearLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    android:layout_width="match_parent"
    android:layout_height="match_parent"
    android:orientation="vertical">

    <LinearLayout
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:id="@+id/widget_toolbar"
        android:layout_height="?android:attr/actionBarSize"
        android:background="@color/colorPrimary">

        <ImageView
            android:layout_width="wrap_content"
            android:layout_height="match_parent"
            android:layout_gravity="center"
            android:src="@drawable/stock_up"
            android:contentDescription="@string/stock_widget" />

        <ImageView
            android:layout_width="wrap_content"
            android:layout_height="match_parent"
            android:layout_gravity="center"
            android:src="@drawable/stock_down"
            android:contentDescription="@string/stock_widget" />

        <TextView
            android:layout_width="0dp"
            android:layout_height="match_parent"
            android:layout_weight="1"
            android:layout_marginStart="32dp"
            android:gravity="center_vertical"
            android:text="@string/your_stocks"
            android:textAppearance="@android:style/TextAppearance.DeviceDefault.Widget.ActionBar.Title"
            android:layout_marginLeft="32dp" />
    </LinearLayout>

    <ListView
        android:id="@+id/widget_listView"
        android:layout_width="match_parent"
        android:layout_height="wrap_content"
        android:background="@color/backGround"></ListView>

</LinearLayout>
list_item.xml
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<LinearLayout xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    xmlns:tools="http://schemas.android.com/tools"
    android:layout_width="match_parent"
    android:layout_height="72dp"
    android:gravity="center_vertical"
    android:orientation="horizontal"
    android:paddingLeft="16dp"
    android:paddingRight="16dp"
    >
  <TextView
      android:id="@+id/stock_symbol"
      style="@style/StockSymbolTextStyle"
      android:layout_width="wrap_content"
      android:layout_height="wrap_content"
      android:gravity="start|center_vertical"
      tools:text="List Item"
      />
</LinearLayout>

Next up, having a look at the modified files, we can see that the Widget creation wizard added some stuff into out AndroidManifest.xml and created a new java file.

Upon taking a closer look at the manifest, we can see that the widget’s java class has been registered as a <receiver/>

Next, opening up the NewAppWidget.java, we will see that it extends AppWidgetProvider and some methods are already overridden for you.

Time to edit up this file to reference to the layouts we have just created.

import android.annotation.TargetApi;
import android.app.PendingIntent;
import android.appwidget.AppWidgetManager;
import android.appwidget.AppWidgetProvider;
import android.content.Context;
import android.content.Intent;
import android.os.Build;
import android.support.annotation.NonNull;
import android.widget.RemoteViews;

/**
 * Implementation of App Widget functionality.
 */
public class StockWidgetProvider extends AppWidgetProvider {

    private static void updateAppWidget(Context context, AppWidgetManager appWidgetManager,
                                        int appWidgetId) {
        // Construct the RemoteViews object which defines the view of out widget
        RemoteViews views = new RemoteViews(context.getPackageName(), R.layout.widget_layout);
        // Instruct the widget manager to update the widget
        if (Build.VERSION.SDK_INT >= Build.VERSION_CODES.ICE_CREAM_SANDWICH) {
            setRemoteAdapter(context, views);
        } else {
            setRemoteAdapterV11(context, views);
        }
        /** PendingIntent to launch the MainActivity when the widget was clicked **/
        Intent launchMain = new Intent(context, MainActivity.class);
        PendingIntent pendingMainIntent = PendingIntent.getActivity(context, 0, launchMain, 0);
        views.setOnClickPendingIntent(R.id.widget, pendingMainIntent);
        appWidgetManager.notifyAppWidgetViewDataChanged(appWidgetId,R.id.widget_listView);
        appWidgetManager.updateAppWidget(appWidgetId, views);
    }

    @Override
    public void onUpdate(Context context, AppWidgetManager appWidgetManager, int[] appWidgetIds) {
        // There may be multiple widgets active, so update all of them
        for (int appWidgetId : appWidgetIds) {
            updateAppWidget(context, appWidgetManager, appWidgetId);
        }

        super.onUpdate(context, appWidgetManager, appWidgetIds);
    }

    @Override
    public void onEnabled(Context context) {
        // Enter relevant functionality for when the first widget is created
    }

    @Override
    public void onDisabled(Context context) {
        // Enter relevant functionality for when the last widget is disabled
    }

  /** Set the Adapter for out widget **/

    @TargetApi(Build.VERSION_CODES.ICE_CREAM_SANDWICH)
    private static void setRemoteAdapter(Context context, @NonNull final RemoteViews views) {
        views.setRemoteAdapter(R.id.widget_listView,
                new Intent(context, StockWidgetService.class));
    }

    
    /** Deprecated method, don't create this if you are not planning to support devices below 4.0 **/
    @SuppressWarnings("deprecation")
    private static void setRemoteAdapterV11(Context context, @NonNull final RemoteViews views) {
        views.setRemoteAdapter(0, R.id.widget_listView,
                new Intent(context, StockWidgetService.class));
    }

}

Now, create a WidgetDataProvider which will provide us with data to be displayed inside the widget.

You can use a static data for now (like a prefilled ArrayList, but make sure that this data should be dynamic for making the widget meaningful)

import android.content.Context;
import android.content.Intent;
import android.database.Cursor;
import android.os.Binder;
import android.widget.RemoteViews;
import android.widget.RemoteViewsService;

/**
 * Created by the-dagger on 24/7/16.
 */

public class WidgetDataProvider implements RemoteViewsService.RemoteViewsFactory {

    private Context context;
    private Cursor cursor;
    private Intent intent;

    //For obtaining the activity's context and intent
    public WidgetDataProvider(Context context, Intent intent) {
        this.context = context;
        this.intent = intent;
    }

    private void initCursor(){
        if (cursor != null) {
            cursor.close();
        }
        final long identityToken = Binder.clearCallingIdentity();    
        /**This is done because the widget runs as a separate thread 
        when compared to the current app and hence the app's data won't be accessible to it
        because I'm using a content provided **/
        cursor = context.getContentResolver().query(QuoteProvider.Quotes.CONTENT_URI,
                new String[]{QuoteColumns._ID, QuoteColumns.SYMBOL, QuoteColumns.BIDPRICE,
                        QuoteColumns.PERCENT_CHANGE, QuoteColumns.CHANGE, QuoteColumns.ISUP},
                QuoteColumns.ISCURRENT + " = ?",
                new String[]{"1"},null);
        Binder.restoreCallingIdentity(identityToken);
    }

    @Override
    public void onCreate() {
        initCursor();
        if (cursor != null) {
            cursor.moveToFirst();
        }
    }

    @Override
    public void onDataSetChanged() {
        /** Listen for data changes and initialize the cursor again **/
        initCursor();
    }

    @Override
    public void onDestroy() {
    cursor.close();
    }

    @Override
    public int getCount() {
        return cursor.getCount();
    }

    @Override
    public RemoteViews getViewAt(int i) {
        /** Populate your widget's single list item **/
        RemoteViews remoteViews = new RemoteViews(context.getPackageName(), R.layout.list_item_quote);
        cursor.moveToPosition(i);
        remoteViews.setTextViewText(R.id.stock_symbol,cursor.getString(cursor.getColumnIndex(QuoteColumns.SYMBOL)));
        remoteViews.setTextViewText(R.id.bid_price,cursor.getString(cursor.getColumnIndex(QuoteColumns.BIDPRICE)));
        remoteViews.setTextViewText(R.id.change,cursor.getString(cursor.getColumnIndex(QuoteColumns.CHANGE)));
        if (cursor.getString(cursor.getColumnIndex(QuoteColumns.ISUP)).equals("1")) {
            remoteViews.setInt(R.id.change, "setBackgroundResource", R.drawable.percent_change_pill_green);
        } else {
            remoteViews.setInt(R.id.change, "setBackgroundResource", R.drawable.percent_change_pill_red);
        }
        return remoteViews;
    }

    @Override
    public RemoteViews getLoadingView() {
        return null;
    }

    @Override
    public int getViewTypeCount() {
        return 1;
    }

    @Override
    public long getItemId(int i) {
        return i;
    }

    @Override
    public boolean hasStableIds() {
        return true;
    }
}

Let’s also create a service that invokes the WidgetDataProvider after a fixed interval

import android.content.Intent;
import android.widget.RemoteViewsService;

/**
 * Created by the-dagger on 24/7/16.
 */

public class StockWidgetService extends RemoteViewsService {
    @Override
    public RemoteViewsFactory onGetViewFactory(Intent intent) {
        return new WidgetDataProvider(this,intent);
    }
}

Phew.. almost done with this now.

Finally edit up the widget_info.xml located inside /res/values/xml/ of your project.

Edit it to reference the time after which your widget will be updated, the preview image which should show up in the widget picker and minimum width and height of the widget.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<appwidget-provider xmlns:android="http://schemas.android.com/apk/res/android"
    android:initialKeyguardLayout="@layout/app_widget"
    android:initialLayout="@layout/app_widget"
    android:minHeight="110dp"
    android:minWidth="170dp"
    android:previewImage="@drawable/example_appwidget_preview"
    android:resizeMode="horizontal|vertical"
    android:updatePeriodMillis="86400000"
    android:widgetCategory="home_screen"></appwidget-provider>

Well, once this is done, go ahead and fire up your app. You will be able to see the newly created and updated widget in your homescreen.

 widget

Pretty awesome right!
Congratulations on making your first widget.

For now the app only opens a specific activity on clicking it, but you can read up a bit on how to execute a separate task on clicking each item on the list by using a pendingIntent.

Published by

the-dagger

Android Developer, Open Source Enthusiast