Fads come and go. That’s been a universal truth for centuries, perhaps even millennia. We have an innate tendency towards trends, popularity, and flavors of the month, and all of that has been made clearer with the advent of the Internet. Web trends come on the scene and die out faster than you can blink, but some stick around for a while. For example, tag clouds.
Remember tag clouds? They aren’t as trendy today as they used to be, but they’re definitely still around. For those of you who aren’t familiar, tag clouds are a form of typographical art where a bunch of words are crammed together, usually in a distinguishable shape, and each word has a different font size based on its frequency or importance. It’s a great way to visualize the popularity of words in a group.
Well, someone took that concept and ported it over to Android as a widget. It’s called Tagy Widget and it’s an innovative way to utilize the tag cloud concept in a practical way.
Like I said, tag clouds operate on the basis of popularity and frequency: certain words receive greater weight, and thus greater attention, when they are used more often. Tagy Widget takes that idea and applies it to your Android phone apps. Based on your settings, Tagy Widget will combine the names of your installed apps and arrange them in a way where the more popular apps have larger names. We’ll see how this works later on.
First thing to note is that Tagy Widget is a widget. Big surprise, right? It’s not an app that you need to open up. Instead, you just need to add a widget to one of your home screens (make sure it’s a Tagy Widget) and it’ll magically handle it all for you.
Tagy Widget comes with 3 widget subtypes: Apps, Bookmarks, and Contacts. The main one you’ll want to use is the Apps widget, which tracks how frequently you use each app. Bookmarks are links to – you guessed it – bookmark URLs. And Contacts will track the frequency of your communications with said contacts.
The actual widgets for Tagy come in a variety of sizes: 3×5, 4×2, 4×3, 4×4, 4×7 and 5×5. But even after you add a widget, you can easily resize them to your convenience. Tagy Widgets work great on phones and tablets, and they integrate well with dozens of custom Android launchers, including MIUI, GO Launcher, Nova Launcher, and Apex Launcher (the one I use).
Once you’ve selected the type and size of the widget you want to use, you’ll be presented with a bunch of options that you can tweak before the widget is actually created on the home screen. There are actually more tweakable features than I expected out of a widget like this, so consider me pleasantly surprised.
- Choose apps. This is the main option where you can select which apps actually appear in the tag cloud. Whether you only want three apps to show up or the entire list, that’s up to you.
- Setup button appearance. On each tag cloud, there’s a small button that you can tap to open up that particular widget’s settings page. By default, it looks like a small square. This lets you change what that button looks like.
- Add newly installed apps. By toggling this on, the widget will automatically update whenever you install new apps and add those apps into the cloud.
- Tag color. This will change the text color for your tag cloud. Simple enough.
- Tag background. This will change the background color for each item in the tag cloud.
- Adjust tags color. If you enable this, the text colors will get brighter or darker depending on the tag item’s popularity.
- Adjust background transparency. If you enable this, the background for each tag item will get more opaque or more transparent depending on its popularity.
- Resize tags. Here’s the selling feature. If enabled, the tag items will grow larger or smaller depending on how frequently they’re used.
If you look above, that’s what the final product looks like. On the left, you’ll see my tag cloud setup using all of the initial settings. It looks pretty bland but after a while it’ll turn into the image on the right. As certain app names get larger, they become easier to find. Plus, it’s nice to see your relative app usage.
Based on the widget settings, you don’t even have to use Tagy Widget in its original tag cloud form. You could just add a bunch of apps to the cloud, disable tag resizing, and use that as a minimalistic substitute for app shortcuts. Pretty cool if you ask me.
And I’ll leave you with Imgy Widget, which is another app created by the same team. It basically does the exact same thing as Tagy Widget, except it uses the app’s icon instead of the app’s name. If you’d rather see a tag cloud of icons instead, go ahead and check that out!