The paradigm-shifting potential of Android’s Conversations Widget


It’s rather hard to change how people use their phones. One recent example was Google wanting to meaningfully change how you interacted with “People and conversations” on Android in large parts through widgets.

Google made “People and conversations” a tentpole of Android 11 back in 2020. It — correctly — identified that “communicating with your friends and colleagues is the most important thing many people do on their phones.”

For end users, this initiative manifested as a dedicated “Conversation” section at the top of the notification shade, with a tap opening that messaging thread in a floating chat head bubble. You were also given the ability to give specific conversations “Priority” and custom sounds or vibrations.

Android 11:

Android 12 continued that focus with the introduction of a “Conversation Widget.” The homescreen object was meant to “promote user interaction by allowing them to easily open chats on the home screen.”

These widgets are enhanced shortcuts that allow users to efficiently get back to their conversations while showing snippets of their conversation status or other relevant information.

Google imagined this widget displaying everything from upcoming birthdays to what songs friends are listening to and what movies/games they are playing. Another example was location sharing, missed calls, and if they were exercising. The full list of supported “activities” includes:

  • Anniversary: “representing that the conversation user and the device user are celebrating an anniversary today.”
  • Audio: “representing that the conversation user is listening to music or other audio like a podcast.”
  • Birthday: “representing that today is the conversation user’s birthday.”
  • Game: “representing that the conversation user is playing a game.”
  • Location: “representing that the conversation user is sharing status with the device user.”
  • New story: “representing that the conversation user has posted… Source

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