As you probably know, the new version of Fancy Widget was released towards the end of last month. Within a few weeks, it has already gained popularity of its predecessor. The number of downloads on the Android Market has passed the 100,000 mark earlier this week. This is great news, and we couldn't achieve this without all our users' support.
At this point, I would like to take a moment to look back at the project and think about the future of FW. The past few months have been rather busy for me. First, I redesigned FW from the appearance to its internals. After release, I kept getting feedback and suggestions from users every day. On the one hand, I really enjoy the interaction with you guys, and I kept adding new features to make FW better. On the other hand, I've also spent a large amount of time on this project in the past few months. Although I'm not a full-time developer, I put almost all the time that I could use into the development, customer support, and localization (thanks to everyone helping with the translation by the way). Even as a free app, I've been trying to provide high-quality service to our users. So far, I have replied almost every single email and most of the comments on the website. As you would imagine, I can't go on like this forever. There will be some changes to keep the project development alive and active. Today, we'are glad to announce a milestone for the Fancy Widget project. From now on, there will be two version of FW: a free version and a paid version.
If you like the free version of FW, chances are that you will also like the paid version, which is called Fancy Widget Pro. The pro version includes everything in the free version, and it also has a bunch of exclusive features. Although the free version will not get all the new features in the future, it will continue to get regular updates and improvements. In fact, here is the first major update since release. Here's what's new in FW v2.1.0:
- New: skin support. This is one of the most requested features. Now it's here, and for the free version too. With this feature, you will be able to customize the widget even more. For example, you can change the clock font and color by installing a clock skin. However, you will have to install skins manually to the SD card, and then choose which skin you want to use from within the app. To get you started, we created two skins: Crystal LED (a clock skin) and Comic Weather (a weather skin) and they are available for download below. In order to install a skin, you need to first download the archive file, say crystalled.zip. There will be a folder called crystalled after you unzip the archive. Now you need to copy this folder to your SD card under the directory: /Android/data/fancywidget/clockskins. You need to create this directory if it does not exist. If you are trying to install a weather skin, please copy the folder to /Android/data/fancywidget/weatherskins. After you are done with this step, you will be able to see the skin in the FW settings activity. Note that you can only see up to 5 installed skins from the list, but the pro version does not have this limit.
- New auto refresh options. In previous versions, there is a switch to turn on/off auto refresh at configurable intervals. Now, it has been expanded to a list of four options to give you more control. The "Always" and "Never" options correspond to the on/off switch in previous versions. You can also make the widget abide by global syncing rules, so that it only perform scheduled updates when background data/auto-sync is enabled. With this option, you can control auto-syncing conveniently in one place (from the accounts and sync settings or from the power control widget).
- Improved battery usage in certain conditions (e.g., air plane mode).
- Improved widget loading time.
- GPS confirmation. If you turn on GPS location updates in the widget settings, but the GPS is disabled in your system settings, you will see a confirmation message that may take you to the location settings panel so that you can enable GPS there.
- Removed some translations (e.g., Spanish). The translation for some languages are ported from the old Fancy Widget and is out-dated. If you would like to help with the translation and bring it up to date, please let us know.
- Other bug fixes and improvements.
- New app icon.
That's it for the free version. Now for the pro version, here are some exclusive features:
- A new weather provider: WeatherBug. This is also the default provider in the pro version, but you may switch back to Google Weather if you like. WeatherBug provides more detailed and accurate weather information, and is more stable than Google Weather. When WeatherBug is the current weather provider, you will see the WeatherBug icon on the top right corner of the forecast activity.
- Weather alerts. Severe weather alerts for your location will be delivered through notifications. Note that this feature only works if you use WeatherBug as your weather provider. You also get the options to aggregate multiple alerts into a single notification or turn off alerts completely.
- A set of new clock/weather widgets. You can now choose from a 4x2 home (clock and weather) widget, a 4x1 home widget, a 4x1 clock widget and a 4x1 weather widget. There will be more coming in future updates.
- Convenient in-app skin management. The pro version features the Fancy Widget marketplace, where you can browse through lists of clock and weather skins with preview pictures. To try out a new skin, you can just download and install it onto your device with a single click or two. The market also keep track of the status of your installed skins. You can easily install a new skin, update an existing skin, or remove an installed skin all in one place.
- A new widget style option. The old flip clock style is back and even better, it is also skinnable. For each skin, you may get completely different looks by applying different widget styles. It's fun to play with different skins and styles.
- Weather animations. This is another highly-requested feature, and now it's finally here. Weather animation is enabled by default on the forecast activity. There's also the option to enable unlock animations (disabled by default), but it is still experimental and may be annoying sometimes. You will also notice an option to turn on sound effects (e.g., rain, thunder). This feature is also experimental and is disabled by default.
Since the skin feature is newly added, there are not many skins available for FW at this time. The two skins that we created are available for download to all users. If you are a pro user, you can also find these skins in the FW marketplace. A screenshot is given below to give you an idea of what they look like.
If you are a skin developer, or are interested in making your own skins, you may send your skin to us so that it will be listed in the FW market for other people to download and use. The two skins we released may serve as a guide and example to get you started with your own designs. We will release a detailed skin developer's guide in the next few days.
The pro version is now available for download in the Android Market for $1.99. If you like FW and enjoyed the free version, you may consider buying the pro version to support the future development of Fancy Widget. As always, please feel free to leave your comments or feedback to help us make FW better.