The Pixel Launcher has, for years, supported a special widget known as “At a Glance,” which can show contextual information such as calendar appointments. With the Pixel 6, At a Glance is upgraded to support more features, but it still can’t be removed from the homescreen. It’s time for that to change.

Functionality is upgraded with Pixel 6

At a Glance is, admittedly, in a better form than it ever has been. On top of showing calendar, maps, weather alerts, and flight data as it has for a long time, the feature on Pixel 6 can now integrate with third-party apps, show live timers from the Clock app, and more. As we detailed this week, too, Google has even more in store.

Soon, At a Glance will support data on connected Bluetooth devices, showing your shopping list automatically when you get to the store, the person who just rang your Nest Doorbell, and many other useful features.

Android 12’s widgets are hindered by ‘At a Glance’

However, the problem is that Google forces this fixed homescreen object on anyone who buys a Pixel. As great as At a Glance is and as good as it is going to get, it’s just not for everyone. Whether it’s a matter of the visual style or otherwise, this feature needs to be optional.

This frustration made itself really known with the launch of Android 12, where there’s a much heavier emphasis on widgets. Google revamped many of its widgets including the clock and weather widgets. Yet, those widgets are much less useful on Pixel, because the main page is dominated by At a Glance, which already shows a lot of that data. Taking up 20% of the vertical space is a serious hindrance to using basically any other widgets on the same page.

Our Kyle Bradshaw’s homescreen, pictured here, would look a whole lot better without At a Glance

Third-party launchers do get around this problem, enabling users much more customization and the removal of At a Glance, but that’s not an ideal route.

There’s an obvious middle ground

It’s clear Google wants At a Glance to be a key part of the Pixel 6, as it should be. The widget is incredibly useful and its new form is effectively exclusive to Pixel. However, the clear answer to this problem is that the feature should just be optional, but turned on by default.

A simple setting could allow users to turn off and remove the At a Glance widget to free up that valuable homescreen slot, opening it up to other widgets. This could take the form of a toggle in the Pixel Launcher’s settings menu. There is a toggle today, but it only turns off the useful features and leaves the date and widget itself in place.

An even better solution, though, would be making At a Glance a more traditional widget that can be moved to any part of the launcher, or removed altogether. By going this route, Google can still offer At a Glance on the lockscreen where it’s extremely useful and users can place it in a more favorable location on their homescreen.

With Google’s latest phone being all about the person using it, it’s just hard to see any other way. It’s time to make this feature optional, or at least much more flexible.

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Ben Schoon

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