The iPhone is better than ever, meaning more people use it as their primary way to work and play. And a useful feature you might not have heard a lot about—widgets—provides a great way to view important information from the apps and services you use the most.
We’re taking a closer look at widgets and highlighting some of the best options for your iPhone (and iPad too).
The Wonderful World of iPhone Widgets
Once confined to just the Notification Center, Apple made a great decision starting in iOS 10 to give widgets their own screen—the Today View.
Giving widgets a separate screen and making it easier to reach has made the feature much more useful. More developers have jumped on board to create widgets for their apps.
You can access widgets by swiping right from the lock screen or home screen on your iPhone. To edit widgets, scroll to the bottom of the widget screen and tap Edit.
On this screen, you can see all available widgets. It’s also the place to go to add, remove, and reorder widgets.
Apple includes widgets for a number of built-in apps. For example, the Notes widget shows recent notes and allows you to create one with just a tap. The News, Calendar, and Reminders widgets also provide a quick bite of information from those apps.
But the widget options from third-party developers really help make the feature indispensable. Here are some of our favorites.
Pedometer++ takes a simple approach to activity tracking. The app uses your iPhone, or even an Apple Watch, as a step counter. According to most health experts, taking 10,000 steps per day is a great way to remain active and healthy. This app helps anyone keep track of that important metric.
From the widget, you can view an up-to-date step count along with the number of miles and floors walked. Hitting the Show More button will provide a graph of steps taken every hour.
Download: Pedometer++ (Free)
Shazam is a great app to identify music and other types of media, with one big caveat. You need to be fast on the draw to open the app before the song ends. Its widget helps makes that process much easier.
Along with one-tap access to the app itself, there’s also a button to snap a picture or search for something specific. The Show More section will show recently identified songs.
Download: Shazam (Free)
3. Fantastical 2
Keeping track of your calendar can become as difficult as juggling the daily deluge of email. Fantastical 2 is a great all-around option for keeping your calendar under control. The app’s widget is completely customizable, so you can select what to see at a glance.
You can select from four different options—timeline, calendar, event, and reminders. On the widget, the smaller view will show any events scheduled for today. The Show More view is a full, interactive calendar.
4. Carrot Weather
Apps can make even the weather entertaining. One of the funniest is Carrot Weather. It delivers the usual weather with a hysterical dose of sarcasm and humor.
Using the app, you can customize the widget to provide the forecast and other details shown. There are four different slots in the widget to display different information like wind speed, precipitation chance, and more. You can even see a dose of the app’s snark on the widget.
Download: Carrot Weather ($5, subscription available)
As you could probably guess, the ESPN widget is all about sports scores. First make sure to select your favorite teams in the app. Then with the widget, you can view live scores and upcoming game information for those favorites.
Download: ESPN (Free, subscription available)
Traffic is an inconvenience most of us have to deal with on a daily basis. And the simple ETA app wants to make that a bit easier. Using the app’s widget, you can see travel times—by car, mass transit, or walking—to a number of different customizable locations.
Along with showing traffic conditions on a route, selecting the location in the widget will automatically bring up directions in Google Maps or Apple Maps.
Download: ETA ($3, in-app purchases available)
Even the most well-prepared traveler must battle with flight delays and cancellations that can throw plans into disarray.
Travelers can use a number of different apps to find real-time tracking information. FlightStats is a great option and its widget will show you up-to-date information about a selected flight, including departure or arrival gate.
Download: FlightStats (Free)
With the prevalence of online shopping, nearly everyone has a package or two in transit. Instead of wondering when your package will arrive, Deliveries is a great way to help keep track of your purchases.
The app’s widget will show any packages in transit and when to expect them.
Download: Deliveries ($5)
Instead of providing you with quick information from an app, Launcher is a bit different. As you might have guessed by the name, the widget allows you to launch a number of different apps with just a quick tap.
You can even customize specific actions to appear in the widget, like calling or messaging a specific person.
Download: Launcher (Free, premium version available)
10. Steve—The Jumping Dinosaur!
Another unique widget, Steve—The Jumping Dinosaur! lets players get their game on. In this endless runner, you’ll try to jump over obstacles to garner a high score.
You can unlock a number of other characters like a unicorn, zombie, panda, and even a donut. Sync with Facebook and try to best your friends’ high scores if you like.
Download: Steve—The Jumping Dinosaur! (Free, in-app purchases available)
Widgets: Another Great Feature for iPhone
Once you fully customize the widgets screen on your iPhone, it’s a great place to view information and interact with apps you use the most. That makes it one of the most underrated features on iOS.
If you’re looking for another way to improve productivity on an iPhone, take a look at our guide to Siri Shortcuts. They let anyone accomplish everyday tasks faster by using Siri.