Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Using an old Android phone or tablet as a wall/desk clock and/or weather station

No shortage of sites telling us we should be re-purposing old phones rather than junking them.

I wanted to make a wall clock / weather station.  Easy, right?


Many issues, including:

-  The phone did not support a landscape home screen, meaning widgets were out.

-  Most weather apps looked like crap.

-  Many weather apps also did not rotate into landscape.

So, several things to fix.  Very frustrating for what should have been a trivial thing, took much longer than I expected.

As I wanted landscape mode, that meant an app and not a widget.  I tried out 10-12 weather apps and was not happy with any of them in landscape; most of them did a bad job of using all the available real estate.

Some solutions:

1.  Install Nova Launcher.  This allows most any phone/tablet to have a landscape home screen; it also hides the status bar.

(It can't hide the home/back buttons - that's part of the OS.  But it does everything else.)

2.  Now that I could do landscape widgets, I tried several out.  I found the best displays came from Weather & Clock Widget for Android.

Options include a proper big clock, very nice icons, and several full-screen widgets.  Also, the widgets scale well to landscape aspect, with the various elements getting larger.  Many widgets don't scale up when you make them bigger.

Transparent Clock and Weather was second-best.  Its widgets don't scale up well.

Beautiful Widgets was third; the default themes are horrible, but using a different theme and hiding the background (in the widget settings) helps a lot.

[Update]:  It seems the screens on my clocks are burning in, like old plasma screens.  It's not obtrusive (so far).

3.  For wall mounting, I considered making a shadowbox, then buying a magnetic mount.

In the end, though, I realized that these were overcomplicated.  A couple of Command adhesive strips is all you need.

If you want a clean install, use the Command snap-fastener strips.  These are normally used for picture hanging but will work just fine.

(Yes, you do need to plug it in.  It won't look bad if you place it near something else that is already plugged in, like a landline phone, computer, etc.)

For a desk, all you need is a stand, or maybe a wireless charger stand.

Here are some examples of what you can do with Nova plus Weather & Clock Widget / Transparent Clock & Weather on a typical 5"-ish phone.  My preferred layouts are at top.  The top one is for a weather station by the door, while the second one is a kitchen clock.

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