No telling why the Note widget was removed, but the root community has a solution to restore it that works for some, not others, so installation details are still being hammered out.
Root options will also let you map - as but one example - a long press on one of your keys to bring up Google Search.
A really good place to start is the Charmeleon rom, because it gives you options to simply change your setups via, well, setups, as opposed to multiple flashes, and then decide on your various rom choices from there.
See the root sticky guide to get rid of the Apple-edicted function lockouts, add the full CM DSP Manager, update your camera, etc etc.
Welcome back to Android!