Poll: HTC thinks people don’t use widgets, do you agree?

by: Bogdan PetrovanMarch 4, 2013

HTC One [aa] 600px (1)

One of the defining features of the new HTC One and Sense 5 operating system is BlinkFeed, a Flipboard-like homescreen replacement that displays a stream of updates from social networks and news feeds from select content providers, including Huffington Post, Tech Crunch and ESPN.

With BlinkFeed, HTC aims to differentiate, but also to provide an incentive for users to choose the One, by making information accessible at a glance on the device. It’s a radical departure from the “classic” homescreen we see on other Android devices, although the concept bears a resemblance with Microsoft’s Live Tiles implementation on Windows Phone 8.

HTC’s AVP for User Experience, Drew Bamford, recently published a post on the company’s blog where he explains why HTC opted to make BlinkFeed the default homescreen for the new One.

HTC’s arguments are based on some interesting research that suggests most people hardly use the advanced customization apps that Android offers. Quoting from the blog post:

  • Most people don’t differentiate between apps and widgets.
  • Widgets aren’t widely used – weather, clock and music are the most used and after that, fewer than 10% of customers use any other widgets.
  • Most of you don’t modify your home screens much. In fact, after the first month of use, approximately 80% of you don’t change your home screens any more.

If HTC’s research is accurate, it means that one of the most often touted advantages that Android has over other operating systems, widgets, are not actually used by the vast majority of users.

Is HTC downplaying the interest in widgets in order to promote its own BlinkFeed? Remember, this is the same company that claimed last year that customers prefer thinner phones over better battery life.

Or is HTC on to something here? Do you use widgets? If so, how many and what type? And how often do you alter your home screen? Let us know in the poll and comments section.

[poll id=”228″]

[poll id=”230″]

[poll id=”232″]

  • Bone

    I use widgets but would love to have BlinkFeed as one of my homescreens, especially if all content can be displayed in tile style.

  • Reggy

    but people have different taste to customize their homescreen, i think the best homescreen is in android because people can customize theirs by their taste

  • JellyBean

    The problem with widgets is that most of them are just for displaying clocks and weather in different ways. They are also battery drainers! In this sense, widgets are pretty limited, and I can see where HTC is coming from. Neither iOS, WP8, or BlackBerry OS use widgets.

    • mrband

      False. There are widgets for music, calendar, notes, phone status, calculator, etc…VERY USEFUL: they provide ultra-fast acccess to my most urgent functionalities without having to think where damn is the shortcut for that app. The day Android won’t have widgets I’ll switch to other OS.

  • nebsif

    I use minimalistic text to create shortcuts to apps, basically my entire home screen is text widgets leading to apps and other standard widgets such as clock.
    Guess the vast majority really doesnt use widgets.. or is aware of the beauty of stock android!! :(

    • Jared Persinger

      Stock android is getting really good but for me I think it is still missing something but I’m not sure what

  • Jared Persinger

    This is the first phone that I’ve liked so much to jump carriers…anyone interested in buying a droid razr maxx hd?

    • MasterMuffin

      YES, they don’t sell it here in Finland. Is it carrier locked and I’ll pay 50 bucks :)

      • APai

        “Is it carrier locked and I’ll pay 50 bucks :)”

  • Tony

    widget and Tasker are the main Reason I came over from iPhone…
    That’s just dumb to hear them say. I Guess that they forgot how many people ROOT and ROM ‘their’ Phones

    • WestIndiesKING

      How is it dumb for them to say that? They ran the statistics and i feel that they are right. Most people dont know what widgets are and most people dont bother to change their homescreens. I see countless amounts of people who have their default homescreens from when they purchased it. They arent saying its not useful they are just saying the average person doesnt use them to their full potential and from what i see i think they are spot on. Just because you are power user doesnt mean the majority of people out there are.

      • Timmy

        As much as it pains me to say, HTC may be right, at least partially. It would be helpful if HTC provided demographic information and things like user experience level to backup their claims. Power users are more likely to take advantage of widgets and other advanced features of android but novice uses probably match HTCs claims.

  • It depends on the use. I download apps regularly, so the home screen has many changes frequently. If my dad had one (PS- he uses blackberry as he needs only email and calls) it would be changed once and for ever.

  • APai

    is HTC on crack ? newsfeeds, clock, weather, calendar, flipboard, shortcuts etc.

    • MasterMuffin


  • Conner Rhoads

    I’d use more widgets if they were better with memory management. I tend to prefer them when they don’t drag down system performance for quick status checks or quick feature access.

    On both my phone and my tablet, I currently run 10 between all screens.

  • moonlight

    for this once I agree with HTC.

    I use Launcher7 and Launcher8 on both my droid phone, I never like android homescreen nor widget. Big 2×1 tile is my style. I had lot of games, it’s nice to have big screenshot of game on launcher, instead of tiny grid of icons or widgets.

    When I’m bored, I change to stock android launcher and use Live Wallpaper, like Aquarium, Disney world, Tiny people, etc. With minimal icons. No widget. I never like widget, but I love live wallpaper.

    For me, Live Tiles & Live Wallpaper are FTW.

  • NicholasMicallef

    Why can I only choose 1 kind of widget in the second poll? Also HTC are wrong but it doesn’t matter because I’d use CM anyway to get rid of Sense.

  • michael sanchez

    This is why HTC is were they are at. They think they know us but so rhey

    • WestIndiesKING

      They ran the statistics and if you ask the average person(not a power user) whats the difference between a widget and app they probably would be able to tell you. They arent saying widgets arent useful just that the average person doesnt change or modify their homescreens which from what ive seen around me seems pretty spot on.

    • Sholih Rmd

      what do you mean? they were right. look at the last poll’s result. people change their home screen once in a few months.

  • michael sanchez

    Do they.

  • Mikesphoneandtab

    Widgets are one if the foundation blocks for Android. I use a widget for everything I can find a reason for. They make Android powerful and easy to use because you don’t have rot click and scroll for hours to find the information that you want. Widgets also break up the monotony and add interest and beauty to your homesscreens. That is basically what a home screen is for. Otherwise you should just use your app drawer aka an iPhone. I do agree that most people don’t differentiate between apps and widgets. I think Android needs to make widgets more prominent so that people will use that feature. Most people go into their app drawer and scroll pass the apps into the widget sectional and their like what is all of this crap? What if when you clicked and held on a app you would get a small pop up that said “their is a widget available for this app, would you like to try it out?” If and give you the option of previewing it. Something. Android has a lot of features people like me use but it think if they made it a little more accessible (notice I didn’t use the word “easy” as I believe Android is easy if you take just a few seconds to look through your options) people who want to basically buy the phone and never look at it again until the eye use it again will get everything more out of the phone.

    • Really good advice. I also feel that widgets do get overlooked more than they should.

      Agree 100% with the preview thing.

    • WestIndiesKING

      I wish Google did a better job of promoting the functionality of their OS but i hate that preview options idea you have. They have added tips for when you first launch the device and go into certain new screens for the first time, so something like that would be fine. But what you describe for me to see a preview every time i long press would drive me nuts. It would be like having to hear that stupid safety instructions every time you get on plane.

  • paulette

    widgets is what makes android… android

    • NicholasMicallef

      Yeah, I can imagine the people at HTC in a board meeting: “You know one big thing that makes android special and everyone loves? widgets… let’s remove them, should be a wonderful idea…”

  • Damn, sometimes I change all of my widgets and home screens multiple times a week. I used to do this daily… I must lay off the crack pipe.

  • Guido Hulscher

    Why can’t I select more than one kind of widget I use in the poll? Isn’t it just what makes Android great? I use every kind of widget there is, it’s why I extended the number of my homescreens to 7…

  • AnyManCan

    Keeping in mind that the average user doesn’t usually read tech sites, unless they are having troubles…like which new device to buy. Clock with weather and some other personal vitals, maybe music and social feeds depending on battery performance. A big part of the beauty of android, is that you don’t have to have everything out there for God and everyone to see, or constantly updating “live” tiles. Simplicity is also a virtue.

  • John Y

    It’s things like this is why I will not buy an HTC device anytime soon.

  • mihaits
  • Andrew Mezzi

    The only widgets I use are Google Song Search, Google Music, and Google Now. My home screens are filled with other widgets, but I don’t use them.

  • monkeypox69

    One of the main reasons I prefer Android over iOS is the fact I can customize my home screens and use widgets! HTC must be high.

  • monkeypox69

    I guess a lot of morons must buy HTC phones. No wonder they’re in trouble.

    • Why? Who cares if the buyers are morons or geniuses? As long as they buy there IS no trouble.

  • raindog469

    I have only one widget on my phone’s homescreen, a monitoring widget that watches one of my web servers. My girl has a paid business calendar widget and a number of others as well. We both used to have weather and battery widgets, but have switched to notification-based weather and battery indicators. So, while I don’t use a lot of widgets, the one I do use is kind of critical and, apparently, not available on the HTC One by default. (Not that either of us uses Samsung’s default launcher either.)

    My main homescreen is just my 18 most frequently used shortcuts (yes, I use 18 different apps, web apps and contacts on a daily basis… more, actually, because I put my client-related stuff on a different screen) plus an ICE shortcut and that one monitoring widget. My favorite apps change on a pretty regular basis, and if I don’t make a change to my main homescreen, I certainly make a change to one of the other three I have set up.

    On my tablet, I have Google’s search widget and a couple of quick settings widgets. Maybe that would be a better fit for HTC’s paradigm, but I really doubt it. It’s fine for HTC to claim users don’t use widgets, but all they appear to have made is a nonstandard widget you can’t use with other launchers, while locking competing news widgets out of their own launcher.

    Know what I don’t want on my homescreen? News from outlets chosen just because they’ve made deals with my phone manufacturer. Actually, I don’t want a news ticker at all; I have a shortcut to Google News for that. Nor do I want a live, always-on social network feed, despite Microsoft and now HTC trying to tell me it’s important. That’s what notifications are for. I want clean and no BS on my homescreen. I only even set a background after getting an amazing shot of a mountain lake last month, and I’ve had my phone for almost 2 years.

    • Robbie Campbell

      I totally agree with you on that last paragraph. We are already self-limiting our knowledge base with social media and search giving us customized results that support our existing biased ideas.

      • raindog469

        And using Google News while signed in won’t save me from that, but it still beats relying on Huffpo or Fox.

  • And therefore HTCrap is on the bottom.

  • desucca

    I think widgets might get a lot more use if there was a framework in place to allow some level of across the board customization, such as transparency and color adjustments? Some widgets may be useful but look gaudy… Others might look ok but be stark white where the user is running a darker theme, etc.

  • Actually; HTC is right!
    Most users never change anything but the basic settings on their phone.
    People tend to think that if the phone offers it everybody uses it but most people dont know and dont care.
    But thats no news. There’s enough research about it on the Internet.

    The fact that YOU (and I) use just about every feature of the phone tells nothing about how the majority uses their phone.

  • Chloe

    this is by far the best smart phone to date, a lot of people are complaining about the battery life of HTC phones, i got my HTC Sensation XE when it was launched and never had issues with the battery, well it is up to the user if you are watching videos and running multiple apps don’t expect your battery to be always 100% i will definitely be getting this phone, this will work for me !!

  • Guy De Vos

    I love the HTC One and will probably get me one. But this Blinkfeed crap will have to go.

  • freedomspopular

    Hate to say it, but they’re probably pretty much right on the money. Just about any average user I’ve seen barely changes the homescreen layout at all. Heck, most of them don’t even touch the settings or change their ringtone.

  • bob

    I think it’s so funny how everyone acts like the world is burning down… HTC is trying something DIFFERENT. They are not taking out widgets!!! You can revert back to a normal screen on their new phone. JESUS CHRIST!!

  • Joshhud

    This is from the same company that said battery life wasn’t important. Dumbest most out of touch company. Widgets ARE Android, that’s a huge draw.

  • Haha, what? What the heck is HTC smoking?

  • HTC = stupid business decisions.

    A shame cos my last 2 phones (sensation and oneX) have been HTC. This year will probably see me with something different.

    Something with a decent battery, expandible memory or at least 64gig on board. I also want something that lets me customise my phone. That’s why I left iCrap in the first place.

  • Poonperm Vardhanabindu

    its not that we don’t use widgets. there aren’t enough widgets for us to use!

  • I consider myself a power user. I enjoy widgets. And I HATE around 90% of widgets. Why a dictionary needs two widgets? One of them is an icon 2×1, the another is the same icon 4×1 without any usage more than open the app. Evernote have around 6 widgets, while QR Droid have 9 widgets.

    The fact is almost all developers feel the “necessity” to include useless widgets and that break the charm.

  • John C reiley

    i don’t use widgets, because of the drain on battery life and slowdown with too many widgets

  • I love how you forgot to mention that a simple side swipe brings you back to the normal Sense launcher.

  • doode

    Keep telling yourself that HTC. Sounds more like an excuse for why they’re making their OS more like a windows phone. I personally bought HTC as my last 2 phones BECAUSE of Sense widgets.

  • james braselton

    hi there my sony smart tv has 4 widgets weather stock clock and date wigets on ios 7 and windows 8