Apple’s new widgets in iOS 10 might not seem like a big deal, but developers have already made great use of this new function. Not every app has a great widget, but there are a few must-haves that are just a swipe away.
You can access widgets by swiping right from the lockscreen or homescreen. To edit the widgets you have on your phone, scroll to the bottom of the widget screen and tap Edit.
What Makes iOS 10 Widgets Better?
Widgets have been around in iOS for a while now, but they’ve been constrained to just one part of your phone: the Notification Center. And while that’s not a terribly bad place for them to be, it’s not a great one, either. A lot of iOS users totally ignore the Notification Center and the addition of widgets wasn’t enough for them to start using it (I was one of those people myself).
But by moving those widgets out of the Notification Center and onto their own screen — and making them accessible from the lockscreen — Apple made them much more useful. They’re easier to get to, and more apps now have widgets available. In short, pretty much everything about widgets is better.
Default iOS 10 Widgets
A number of the native iOS apps have widgets in iOS 10, and some of them are pretty useful. For example, the Notes widget lets you open up any of the last three notes you saved, and lets you create a new text note, photo note, checklist, or hand-drawn note with a single tap. It can be really useful if you use Notes a lot (which you should).
The Calendar and Reminder Widgets show you what you have coming up soon, which is really useful when you want to get an idea of what’s next on your list without opening up another app. News lets you skim a few headlines with just a swipe over to the widget screen, and Mail gives you an idea of what’s in your inbox. All pretty much things you’d expect.
The Maps widgets can be useful, especially with Apple’s now-much-more-useful Maps functions. You can add Maps Destinations, Maps Nearby, and Maps Transit, all of which will help you find and get to where you’re going faster with just a swipe and a tap. The Music widget is also useful for firing up tunes really quickly.
Although the built-in widgets aren’t groundbreaking, they can save you a few seconds and a few taps if you tend to use the native iOS apps a lot. When widgets really come in handy, though, is when you start adding third-party options.
To see which widgets you can use on your phone, just tap Edit at the bottom of the widget screen, and you’ll be given the option to add, remove, and reorder your available widgets (the iOS widget screen gives you two columns to choose from).
Everyone’s going to have different options based on the apps on their phone, but here are 10 cool widgets you can use on the fly to make your phone more useful.
1. Level Today
There are a lot of budgeting apps out there, but few are as simple as Level: you tell it how much you can spend in a month, and it’ll tell you how much you’ve spent so far. When you hit $0, you’ve spent your limit for the month.
The Level Today widget shows you the information you need: how much you have left to spend for the month and how much you can spend today if you average your available funds over the rest of the days in the month.
If you like seeing what’s new in the movie world, the IMDB app is a must-have. Now you can see the latest trailers without even having to open the app! The widget displays four new trailers for upcoming movies.
Just tap one of the trailers, and the IMDB app will open and play the trailer. Perfect for when you want to burn a minute or two on the bus or in line at the grocery store.
Keeping track of the number of steps you take in a day is a great habit for your health; if you’re taking less than 10,000 steps, you may want to increase your activity level. Pedometer++ is a free pedometer that uses your iPhone to track your steps.
The widget lets you take a quick look at your progress, and you don’t even have to unlock your phone to do it. Easy!
Want to see how long it’s going to take you to get home or to work from your current location? Just swipe over to the Google Maps Transit Time widget. Select driving or public transit to see how long it’ll take you to get there at this moment.
Of course, you’ll need to have these saved so Google Maps knows where they are — head to Settings > Your Places and add them if you haven’t already.
Using Shazam to identify a song you don’t know is great, but opening the app as quickly as possible is crucial. If you miss it, Shazam’s not going to help. What if you could open it directly from the lockscreen? Now you can!
Just flip from your lockscreen over to the widgets and hit the Shazam button — you’ll get the song info without even unlocking your phone.
This is a great app for people who use public transit a lot; it can help you find a bus, train, or other form of transit from wherever you are to where you need to go. You can also mark certain routes and stops as favorites, and those favorites will show up on the Embark widget.
No need to open up a browser or even an app to see when the next bus or train is coming — just flip over to the widget!
There are countless ways to get sports scores, but having your favorite teams’ results displayed on your lockscreen makes it really easy to find the information you’re looking for. Just add your favorites to the ESPN app and they’ll show up on the widget.
With a huge number of teams and sports to choose from, you’ll be able to follow all the action right from your lockscreen.
Having a timer on hand can be useful in a lot of situations. Whether you’re using the pomodoro method to get more done, hard-boiling an egg, taking a nap, or doing a seven-minute workout, Timeglass lets you fire up a timer on the double.
Once you’ve saved your favorite timers, you can activate them right from the widget — it’ll take you to Timeglass, but you can then monitor the amount of time you have left without opening the app.
The Amazon app isn’t for everyone, but if you place a lot of orders and want to know where they are, it can be a good use of space on your phone. With the widget, you don’t even have to open the app to check up on your shipments.
While I don’t have any shipments visible in the widget above, you’ll be shown the estimated arrival date of any order that’s coming your way. You can also go to the text, photo, and video search screens with a quick tap.
TripAdvisor helps you find the best hotels, restaurants, and attractions wherever you are. The widget is just like the app, and shows you five places nearby that are highly rated.
When you’re not sure what to do, just flip over to the widget and see what’s popular near you!
Which Widgets Are You Using?
The native and third-party apps mentioned in this article are great ways to put iOS 10 widgets to use, whether your phone is locked or unlocked. But there are tons of other widgets out there, and we want to hear from you about which ones you’re putting to use since updating to iOS 10.
Are you using new widget capabilities in iOS 10? Or do you think widgets are just gimmicks?