Lock screen widgets could be set to make a return in the next big Android OS update – Android 15 – based on hidden features discovered in the latest Android 14 beta.
The tool is clearly unfinished suggesting that it's still some way from being released to the public, but as reported by Android Authority it is possible to access a new Communal Space area on the lock screen that allows you to add widgets.
Currently, you’re limited to just three apps – Google Calendar, Google Clock, and the Google App – though it’s likely that more software could be added if their widget category is updated.
What’s more, when you return to your completed Communal Space it’s currently a messy mash-up of widgets and the typical Android lock screen. So not something that's ready for public use.
This wouldn’t be the first time that lock screen widgets have appeared on Android devices – Google tried something similar in Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Users could add a preview of their messages, calendar, and email inbox to the lock screen, as well as quick access to the camera and a tool that identified what song was playing.
Aspects of this feature remained – you can see message previews, quickly access certain apps, and identify what song is playing on your lock screen – but Android 5 did away with this proper widget-like sense of customizability, which is something this Communal Space feature could bring back.
A Pixel Tablet exclusive?
Unfortunately, while lock screen widgets are seemingly set to make a comeback in the next Android update, they may not be coming to every device. At least not right away. Right now, it appears Communal Space may be exclusive to devices with Hub mode – currently just the Pixel Tablet.
What’s more, you might not be able to update your Communal Space with all the widgets you can decorate your home page with. The Pixel Tablet can have multiple users, and the Communal Space name suggests that these widgets would just be the ones that would be safe and relevant to every user of the device.
As with all leaked beta features, we have to remember that there’s no guarantee that the return of lock screen widgets will happen anytime soon – or even at all. Google could reserve the feature for a much later Android OS update like Android 16 or 17, or it could decide after its tests that it wants to scrap it altogether.
That said, considering lock screen widgets are now a mainstay on Apple’s products since the launch of iOS 16 (released back in September 2022) it seems likely that Google won’t want its Android users to feel like they’re missing out. So lock screen widgets on Android feel more like a matter of when and not if. We’ll just have to wait and see what it announces in the coming year.
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Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.