So, what are widgets? (iOS 14)

This is from our following YouTube video

So, what exactly are widgets? Do you know that phrase that begins with “this is a dumb question…”? Well, there’s no such thing! Questions are a good thing, right? Let’s get to it!

Widgets have been around for a long time on desktop and Android, but are new to iPhone as of iOS 14. Apple isn’t always the first to introduce a technology, but they don’t care, they wait to do it the right way – the Apple way, and widgets are no exception.

So, what are iPhone widgets? Think of them as extensions of apps. They live on their own on your Home Screen, but are very much tied to their host app. They’re not meant to be mini-apps, they’re not really interactive, but are meant to give you important and glanceable information on your Home Screen.

Widgets are available in 3 sizes, small, medium and large, and each app developer has to do the work to create them. Not all apps provide them, and the extent they can be customized is typically pretty limited.

So let’s take a look at some examples to demonstrate. We’ll start with Apple’s Photos app. I’m going to long-press on my Home Screen background and tap Add, and I see a group of predefined widgets ready for me to use. I’m going to scroll down past these, to the list of all apps on my iPhone that support widgets, and I’m going to select the Photos app. Here I can see that there are 3 widgets to choose from, in the 3 different possible sizes.

The title is “For You”, and from that I can tell that I’m not going to be able to customize this much. Let’s go ahead and add. Now it’s on my Home Screen, and is still wiggling. I’ll tap the widget, and you’ll notice nothing happens. Some widgets however can be edited, and those will flip over when you tap them. So Apple’s Photos widget is great, but I can’t tell it specifically which photo to display, or tell it to rotate photos from an album for example. And by the way, this is exactly where our app AirWidgets can help, by letting you create fully customizable photo widgets, among other cool things. More on that a bit later.

Let’s look at another example for widgets that I can customize. I’m going to add another widget, and I’m going to scroll down and select Calendar. I again see that I have 3 options for the 3 widget sizes, and this time I’m going to select medium.

Now if I tap the widget while it’s still wiggling I see that I have some options. I’m going to tap on the mirror switch to turn off, and then I’ll tap on Calendar, and now I see that I have the option to select which of my calendars I want events displayed from.

The Photos and Calendar widgets we just saw are great, and super useful, but you can’t really customize them much. You might want to do things like be more specific about how you want the widget to work, like the example of wanting to create an album of photos to rotate from instead of just showing photos that Apple’s algorithm chooses. Or, you might want to tweak the look of the Calendar widget, to change colors, fonts, maybe even add a background photo. All these are examples of some of the really cool things you can do with our app AirWidgets.

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