Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Planisphere Android Widget

For several years I've been looking with envy at the Android Smart Watch custom clock face with that simple planisphere on it and wanted something like that on my phone screen as well. I thought it's obvious to port the wearable screen to the regular one and had been waiting for a couple of years for that to happen... No luck. But finally, the wait is over.

I had some time this spring to implement it! Looks gorgeous between my other informational widgets, which I am consulting with several times a day:

It took a while to polish it for the market too, so anyone could enjoy it on his or her Android phone or tablet. Screen widgets are not ordinary apps. But finally, here it is ready for your judgment!

In a nutshell, it's really nothing that an ordinary planetarium app can't show you, but my goal was to make it highly configurable in its graphics look and interface feel to match any Android screen design personalizations and informational purposes. You can change colors, sizes, and behavior in many ways. See the app's description and screenshots for more details.

The app is made widely open-ended, so if you have any ideas for what else you'd like to have in it - just let me know while the source code is still hot in my baking oven! Any questions about the app are welcome right here as well.


The "clock" display of the widget (visible at the top of the chart on the screenshot above) shows the chart's time specifically. That's not a real time clock. By default, the "sync with the current hour" mode is invoked. That's easier on the phone computing and power resources. The chart doesn't change much within one hour anyway, so no need to redraw it every minute. The other mode - "stay at a fixed hour" (e.g. 11PM, when I'm usually planning to start my observing night at home).

Also on my home screen

  1. At the top, you see the URLImageWidget , obviously with the Clear dark sky image for my home location in it.
  2. Partially overlapping it the Palmary Weather widget. Just like its black background interface and lightweight footprint; otherwise, it's an ordinary calendar (the transparent background of the widget is nice for overlapping as well).
  3. The overlapping of my widgets and icons is possibly due to the use of the custom home screen launcher app Nova Launcher - the best ever created launcher app on the Android platform. I would highly recommend it for astronomy use, as everything is highly configurable in it, including colors.
  4. The left top circle belongs to the Barometer & Altimeter app, which works very well with my Samsung Galaxy Note 3 phone's integrated barometer sensor. Highly configurable as well and suitable for serious local weather observations and research (I'm studying local weather patterns with it).
  5. On the top right side, I have the clock widget of the truly unique TerraTime app. I'm using it with special 24 hours clock dial with plenty of additional information available at a glance if you know how to read it. The author has a new default interface now, but the old one is way better for astronomy applications IMHO (it's switchable).
  6. On the bottom left you can see the Earth widget of the same TerraTime app. It shows the real-time view of our planet with snow and cloud cover, cities lights, night shadow, and some other overlays (you can select options you want). I'm using it to monitor the clouds cover evolution over my entire hemisphere to understand all the seasonal patterns.
  7. On the bottom right side of the screen, I have the Moon Phase Pro widget. More like a nice looking decoration, as I have the moon phase in two other widgets, but I'm using it also as a quick calendar access button.
  8. My Planisphere widget is in the center, overlapped over NE and NW parts, as they are not really interesting to me
  9. At the very bottom of the home screen (but above the 5 apps buttons row), between the Mood and Earth you see the stylized Sun icon widget. That's the Solar Activity index widget.
  10. In the very background of the screen, you can see some informational elements of the very special Device Info Ex Live Wallpaper, which is also highly configurable. You can move it's "sensors" anywhere on the screen composing the information you want to monitor in real-time for your Android system. I have a dedicated empty screen in my launcher with all of the device information clearly visible, but some of it (like time, CPU load and file space) is readily available from most of the other screens.

Application Privacy Policy

The Planisphere Sky Widget app does not collect or share any user data with the external world.
The last known coarse user location required to properly represent the starry sky hourly angle at a given time is cached in the secure Android app preferences facility.

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