Recently (more specifically, on episode 39 of the podcast (video), I covered how to turn your old Android device into a digital camera. This post goes along those lines and shows how to use your old Android device as a desk clock with auto-refreshing weather. While there are apps to display calendar events,notifications and/or news on your homescreen, the chance to have a high variation in OS required would be too high so I will stick to weather and news.
- Android device with homescreen access at v4.0 or higher (ideally v4.0.3 or higher)
- Power cable for your device with access for a place to keep the device charged
- (Optional) Cell Phone Stand - Esonstyle Desktop Cell Phone Stand purchased for $7.99
- (Optional) Nova Launcher - Free
To get started, ensure that the device can be powered on into the homescreen. Once there turn on ‘Airplane Mode’ to avoid the device asking for a sim card. I then enabled WiFi as this will allow for background refreshing of the weather and/or news app. I then turned off my email sync as I won’t be checking email on this device. Access to the Google Play Store will be needed to ensure you can access it to install apps. If no other apps will be used on this device, uninstall as many apps that will not be used (I uninstalled about 99% of the apps, leaving only system apps and apps included with my device’s Google apps). Next, install HD Widgets if only a clock and weather will be displayed on the homescreen. It is $0.99 but allows for customizing what you see on the widget as well as access to a variety of themes. If you want news and weather, Google News and Weather offers access to both as well as the ability to customize what kind of news is synced in the app.
Setting up the homescreen
If your homescreen can be customized, turn off all animations and reduce the homescreen count to 1. If not and you want a simple/minimal homescreen, I recommend Nova Launcher. I recommend Nova Launcher so I can set the homescreen grid to 4x4, disable the dock and use the home button to access my apps list. This shows only the widget listed and my notification bar. Next, go to your widget list and add the 4x4 HD Widget or the 2x3 Google News and Weather widget. For HD widgets, select your clock style and text color and click the check box. For Google News and Weather, resize the widget to fit your screen. Lastly, if using Nova Launcher, long press on the widget and select padding to better fit the widget to the screen.
Setting up the display to stay on while charging
To start, enable Developer Settings on your device. On stock Android, go to Settings, About phone and tap several times on ‘Build number” until the toast notifications comes up confirming Developer Options has been enabled. Then go back and go into Developer Options. Scroll down to the option for Stay Awake and enable this setting which will keep your screen on while plugged in so your devices sleep settings do not kick in. On other devices, follow the same steps but developer options may be in a different location. If developer options cannot be found/accessed, there are a number of apps in the Google Play store to allow keeping the screen on.
ConclusionOnce all of these steps are done, place your device on the stand (if purchased) and place if where desired. I currently have it sitting on my desk. Lastly and most importantly, don’t forget to plug in your device