One of the best features of iOS and iPadOS is the ability to add widgets to your home screen. The fact that you can place them pretty much anywhere you want gives users more control over customization than ever before.
With widgets available for just about anything you can think of the sheer number of options can make this a slightly bewildering proposition. Which ones do you choose? How do you know if they are any good?
That’s why we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite widgets, to help you narrow it down a bit. Here are our picks for the best widgets for iPhone and iPad.
What is a widget?
If you’ve never used these before, a widget is basically an extension of an app. It provides a window that gives specific information from the app at a glance, so you don't have to open the app to find what you're looking for. Widgets exist for pretty much anything you can imagine – weather, photography, fitness, news, or stocks and shares, to give just a few examples.
While there are some widgets preinstalled on the iPhone and iPad, many apps offer the option of adding a widget once you’ve downloaded them. This massively widens your choice and allows you to personalize your selections to really fit your needs. To start you off, here are some that we recommend.
10. Night Sky
Night Sky is an app that tells you all about the heavens. Use it to learn about stars, planets, satellites, and more, with the aid of augmented reality and other great features.
The widget is relatively basic but will let you know about any upcoming and live events, passing satellites, and the time of sunrise and sunset each day. It’s a great combo for anybody who wants to know a little bit more about the wonders of the universe. (The only thing missing is a voiceover from Professor Brian Cox.) The premium version has even more widgets to offer on top.
9. Photo Widget: Simple
While there is a stock photo widget preinstalled on iPhones and iPad, it's pretty rudimentary. If you want to curate your own albums and dictate how often the image changes Photo Widget: Simple will do the job nicely. It’s free to download and use as well.
You can even use it to create entire themes for your iPhone or iPad. Wallpapers, app icons, and other widgets – countdown, constellation, calendar, clock, memo, and to-do list – can all be customized from here. It's a great widget for several reasons.
8. Carrot Weather
Carrot Weather is, quite simply, our favorite weather app. It recently won Apple Watch App of the Year at the 2021 Apple App Store Awards and a 2021 Apple Design Award, and with good reason. Carrot Weather combines a wicked sense of humor with accurate weather forecasts, as well as a clean interface.
The widget is only available as part of the premium service for £4.99 a month, but in our view, it’s well worth it. The widget is customizable, and lets you see the weather forecast at a glance, without needing to open the app. This is exactly what you want from a weather widget and this one does it with a bit of extra personality.
Fitness comes pre-loaded on iOS as it's made by Apple, which is great for a couple of reasons. One, it is optimized for syncing your Apple Watch with your iPhone. And two, it doesn’t cost anything to use. If you’re a fitness enthusiast or looking for a nudge to help you make some healthier choices, this is a great widget to use.
At a glance, it will give you access to information such as calories burned, active minutes, and how long you’ve spent standing. There’s an alternative option of showing the Progress Ring, which gives a quick visual representation of how close you are to completing your pre-set goals for the day.
6. Find My
The Find My app from Apple may not be one you use on a regular basis, but when you need it, it’s worth its weight in gold. You can use it to keep track of things you are worried about losing – your AirPods, Apple Watch, or something with an AirTag attached to it. You can even use it to keep a close eye on people – for example, making sure your child gets home safely from school.
The widget gives you all this information, without needing to load the app. The widgets come in two flavors – People and Items – so you can decide whether you want one or both on your home screen.
5. Google Maps
Google Maps is a fantastic tool wherever you are in the world, and it gives you a wide variety of widgets to choose from. This includes a Google Travel Times widget, which tells you how long it will take you to get from one place to another.
You can access a widget that will tell you about things like local traffic conditions, shop opening hours, and restaurant reviews in the local area. And there's a widget that lets you find nearby places such as groceries, restaurants, and petrol stations. That's a wealth of widgets for all your travel needs.
Flipboard is an award-winning app that draws from thousands of different sources to curate news and information to suit your interests. Set up the topics you’d like to follow and the major headlines from those subjects will appear on your Home Screen, thanks to the widget.
The widget is available in four different sizes. You can choose from a thumbnail with a single headline up to a much larger roundup of four of the latest stories. You can also choose from four different feeds: your own ‘For You’ feed, the ‘Daily Edition’ for the latest news, ‘10 For Today’ for a selection of in-depth stories, or ‘Flipboard Picks’ for a set of stories specially selected by Flipboard staff.
Let’s face it, the world is a stressful place to be at the moment. This is why we love Calm, the recipient of multiple Apple awards. The Calm widget lets you access Daily Calm with a single tap, as well as breathing exercises and Sleep Stories.
Daily Calm is a 10-minute-long guided meditation, while Sleep Stories are bedtime stories read by well-known celebrities, such as Stephen Fry, Matthew McConaughey, and Leona Lewis. If you choose to subscribe, you get access to all of Calm’s content. You can pay £28.99 for an annual subscription or a one-off £299.99 payment gives you access forever.
2. Spark – Email App by Readdle
Spark – Email App by Readdle is a super smooth way to organize your inbox. It helps to prioritize your email, notifies you about emails from people you know, and ignores the spam, among a host of other great features. You can also connect all your email accounts, so no more bouncing from one app to another.
The widgets build on this, by allowing you to choose up to three of them for quick access. The developers themselves particularly love Recently Seen, Attachments, and Calendar. You can also decide whether to have a small widget that tells you how many emails you’ve got or a larger list of what’s waiting in your inbox. It’s a great tool for seeing what’s important at a glance.
Widgetsmith is a superb tool for customizing widgets for your home screen. And it covers all sorts of topics – weather, astronomy, and calendars are just a few examples. You can even set the widgets to change through the course of the day.
So Widgetsmith might show you the weather when you get up in the morning, before switching to your calendar as you get through all your meetings, and then switch again to show you your reminders for the next day as you enter the evening. Some additional features, such as Tide and Weather hosted data, are available for a premium.