[Android] Make calls directly from your homescreen with Simple Dialer WidgetJune 24, 2013 1 Email article | Print article
One of the best things that Android has going for it is the support for widgets. You won’t find the same functionality on other mobile platforms, which is silly because widgets really do add to the overall user experience. Most widgets offer a quick way to get your notifications or to access app specific functions. Realistically though, there are a lot of stock widgets missing that should really be bundled with the OS. Take this next app, for example. Simple Dialer Widget is an Android app that adds a widget related to the phone dialer and contacts. More specifically, it introduces a widget that you can add to your home screen that allows you to dial and make calls without even opening the phone app.
What is it and what does it do
Simple Dialer Widget isn’t really an app at all, but it does add an optional widget that allows you to dial numbers, browse contacts, and view call logs right from the home screen. I’m not entirely sure why a widget like this isn’t already included with Android, but hey that’s exactly why the platform is so great for customization- you can add the functionality after the fact.
- Adds a couple widgets for use on your homescreen, including one that you can put on your lock screen (the lock screen one is only available with Android 4.2.2 and higher)
- A multi-purpose dialer widget is added, which also offers instant access to recent call logs and the contacts list
- You can also add a lockscreen dialer widget
- Lots of customization options through the settings menu, like font, background and icon colors and more
- No advertisements, anywhere (in version 1.5.2)
- Required a reboot on my device to get access to the widget, even after activating the app beforehand (you need to open the app before the widget is available)
- It’s not necessarily bad, but the widget does use nearly 21MB of RAM while running
Since Simple Dialer is a widget, once installed you actually have to add the related widget to one of your homescreens. I’m sure you know how to add a widget to your homescreen in Android by now, right? Before you gain access to the widget, you first have to tap on the icon for the app in your app tray. This activates the option and pretty much adds the widget to the list. You’ll see a notification that the widget was successfully added too. I actually had to reboot my device before the widget was added as an option to the widget list, even after the notification appeared. After the reboot though, everything worked fine.
I seriously mentioned the word ‘widget’ quite excessively there, huh?
If you’ve ever used the stock dialer app, then that’s essentially what the widget is. In fact, it’s almost exactly the same thing except it’s positioned on the homescreen. The first tab of the widget is the dialer, where you can obviously dial numbers and make calls from. The second tab is the recent call log, which displays both outgoing and incoming calls. The third and final tab displays all of your contacts in a single list.
Trust me when I say, you don’t realize how convenient the widget is until it’s actually installed and setup on your phone. It’s simple, relatively light on system resources, and it clones the vanilla Android dialer entirely. I say vanilla Android dialer because most OEMs install custom skins like Samsung’s TouchWiz, Motorola’s Blur or HTC’s Sense which sometimes affect the appearance of the dialer.
If you have a device with Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) or later, you can also add a dialer widget to the lockscreen. Of course, I won’t get into the security implications of having dialer, call log and contacts access on your lockscreen- I’m sure it could be potentially hazardous. Then again, it’s no different than the emergency dialer function on most devices which allows you to call emergency numbers without unlocking the device.
After the widget has been added to the homescreen (or lockscreen), you can access the application settings menu which allows you to customize the colors and format used. The app will actually pull up the settings screen automatically after you drop the widget where you want it. You can change the background colors, icon colors and text colors used in the widget. Furthermore, you can alter the size of various elements and hide contacts that don’t meet certain parameters in the contacts list. The latter option is very useful if you have contacts from Facebook, Twitter and Google+ all stored in your phone without contact numbers.
For reference, Simple Dialer Widget uses about 21MB of RAM while running.
Conclusion and download link
Simple Dialer Widget is a very minimal app, but that’s exactly how it should be because it’s not really an app at all; instead it adds a couple widgets to your device that provide instant access to the dialer, recent call log and contacts list. The widget is useful and convenient, and I’m actually quite surprised something like it doesn’t already come bundled with Android itself. If you’re constantly making calls on your smartphone, this one is worth checking out.
Version reviewed: 1.5.2
Requires: Android 3.0 and up
Download size: 120KB