Android tablets appear to be slumping exhausting: gross sales are down and builders aren’t all in favour of supporting them with particular apps…not even Google. However with slumping curiosity comes depressed secondhand market gross sales, so tablets are additionally exhausting to eliminate. There are a lot of issues you are able to do with a pill you’re not utilizing, however my favourite use is sticking it on an elaborate PC desktop and utilizing it as a devoted widget pad and notification middle. Right here’s the way you go about it.
Step One: Get a Customized Launcher
What we’re aiming for right here is a massive, versatile space to refill with visible info. Google’s default launchers aren’t particularly well-suited for the duty, as they’re focusing an increasing number of on particular person apps and animations, and the launchers grudgingly made by non-Google Android pill distributors have a tendency to vary from okay to horrible.
For desire, I take advantage of Nova Launcher. I’ve examined dozens and dozens of Android residence display screen replacements in a number of years of working for an Android weblog, and I’ve no reservations about recommending it. For the sake of this text I’ll be utilizing the free model of the app, however the $four improve is totally price it if you would like additional options like customized gestures and notification badges. Nova Launcher additionally has the choice for built-in Google Now, which so far as I do know is exclusive amongst launchers on the Play Retailer.
The next setup directions could be duplicated on different launchers in the event you choose. However critically, Nova Launcher is nice.
Step Two: Set Up Your Residence Screens
Within the Settings menu of the Nova launcher (which you’ll be able to attain from the app drawer), go to the “Desktop” web page. Faucet on “Desktop Grid” to open up the spacing device.
The thought right here is to offer you a massive canvas to refill with widgets and icons. For my Android pill, a Pixel C with a sightly wider than four:three facet ratio, roughly sq. works finest, so I’ve set the grid at eight areas on either side. However when you’ve got a widescreen pill with a 16:9 or 16:10 display screen, you might have considered trying to make it extra lopsided favoring the longer edge, like eight areas by six or twelve areas by eight.
Because you’ll be filling up a lot of the area with widgets, even numbers on each edges will help with group. Go away “Subgrid positioning” unchecked—it permits you to place icons or increase widgets by half a area, which is untidy. Faucet “Performed.”
Beneath “Width Padding” and “Top Padding,” select “Small” or “None.” These are the facet and high/backside margins of your own home display screen, and also you need the widgets to have as a lot vertical or horizontal area as doable.
Disable the choice for “Persistent Search Bar.” A everlasting search bar takes up extra vertical area for widgets, and any Android pill can open a textual content or voice search instantly by long-pressing the house button.
The remainder of the choices on this web page are fully beauty, so set them up for no matter tickles your fancy. I choose to maintain animations and results to a minimal.
A simple manner to make more room rapidly is to disable the dock, the usual bottom- or side-mounted space for semi-permanent icons. To do that, return to the primary Settings web page, then faucet “Dock.” Slide the button on the high proper nook to “off” to disable it fully.
One final tweak: I choose to make the Android residence button double as my icon drawer button, as soon as once more, to make more room for shortcuts and widgets. To do that, return to the primary Settings web page faucet “Gestures and Inputs.” Beneath “Residence button” set the motion to “App drawer.” Set the “Solely on default web page” as enabled or disabled primarily based in your desire.
Step Three: Set Up Icons and Widgets
Right here’s the place issues begin to look attention-grabbing. For the aim of creating a notification middle, the widgets you need to use listed here are those from applications that might in any other case take up a bunch of area in your major laptop display screen (or screens), however want to monitor always whereas working. E-mail is an apparent selection, particularly in the event you use a number of inboxes directly, and I take advantage of a Twitter widget and an RSS reader as well as to the Google Now display screen in Nova Launcher.
To start out issues off, long-press on an empty space of the Nova residence display screen. From this menu you may add additional clean screens by swiping to the fitting and clicking the large “+” button. Add as many as you need—they are often eliminated or re-arranged on this display screen by tapping and holding them, even when they’re filled with widgets and shortcuts.
So as to add a widget, simply faucet the “Widgets” button on this menu, then choose from the listing out there primarily based in your put in purposes. As soon as a widget is positioned, you may long-press it to change the borders primarily based on the desktop grid you created in Step Two. For extra customary shortcuts, open the app drawer, then faucet and drag them into place.
Bear in mind, the concept right here is to get the utmost quantity of data out there to you directly. So I’ve set my middle “residence” display screen to a Twitter widget from Fenix, flanked by my most-used pill apps. The fitting display screen is three separate electronic mail account widgets with my major Gmail account taking the most important block. And on the left I maintain my RSS reader for comics and podcasts, with Google’s helpful Information and Climate widget beneath it for extra basic information.
Right here’s a have a look at the total factor, from left to proper:
Just a few extra ideas, which you’ll be able to apply or ignore at your leisure:
- Solely permit notifications from vital purposes, and arrange completely different notification sounds for every alert that is available in. That manner you may distinguish which app needs your consideration with out even trying.
- Use Google Now’s always-on voice detection for “Okay Google.” That may permit you to make Google voice searches out of your desk hands-free.
- When selecting a wallpaper, decide one thing that’s muted and simple to distinguish from widgets and shortcuts, so your eyes don’t get overwhelmed. I like this set of geometric folds from DeviantArt.
- For even sooner launching of apps from any display screen, I’ve used and really helpful SwipePad for years. It’s one other Android app that’s properly well worth the premium improve.
Step 4: Enable the Display screen to Stay On Whereas Charging
To verify the display screen doesn’t flip off whereas the pill is in your desktop and charging, you’ll have to dive into the primary Android Settings menu. Activate the Developer choices web page in the event you haven’t already: Head to Android’s Settings, faucet “About pill,” then faucet “Construct quantity” a number of occasions quickly till you see the message that claims “congratulations, you’re a developer!” (You in all probability aren’t. It’s okay, I received’t inform anybody.)
Press the again button, then faucet on the “Developer choices” hyperlink that’s now seen. Inside, allow the choice labelled “Keep awake.” This may maintain the pill’s display screen from turning off when it’s charging, permitting you at-a-glance entry to all these widgets all day lengthy. However don’t neglect to flip it off once you depart your desk, and infrequently let the battery drain down to give it a break.
Step 5: Set Up Your Desk
To make your notification middle helpful, you’ll need to place it someplace in your desk that’s extremely seen, simply reachable for tapping and swiping, and inside attain of a charging cable. A desktop charging dock is good right here: you may usually discover one for generic MicroUSB or USB-C units on Amazon or different distributors. Full desktop PC customers will usually need to arrange their tablets between the keyboard and monitor, whereas laptop computer customers will need it on the facet.
Some pill fashions have particular docks constructed for them, however not like iPads, producers and accent makers hardly ever splurge on model-specific docks. In case your pill has an oddly-placed charging port, like my Pixel C and its bizarre side-mounted USB-C port, a generic pill stand is extra applicable. I like to pair it with an L-hinge charging cable (additionally out there for affordable from on-line distributors) to make cable administration a little extra snazzy.
Arrange your stand, ensure you’ve received energy, and also you’re prepared to go: now you may verify your electronic mail, feeds, information, climate, no matter with a look, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing in your most important PC.