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Home screens with app icons are so old-hat. Pack yours with widgets instead and have the info you need available at a glance
On your iPhone and iPad, widgets are no longer confined to Today view. Now, they can be added to any Home screen, giving you fast access to a wealth of regularly updated information.
Apple provides widgets for a number of its own apps, including Calendar, Clock, Files, Game Center and Fitness. In this round-up, we go further afield, delving into our pick of the best third-party widgets you can install.
How to use widgets on your iPhone and iPad
Long-press a blank space on any Home Screen to enter edit mode. Swipe to access the page you’d like to add a widget to.
Tap the + at the top-left and you’ll see a selection of recommended widgets. Use the search field to filter the list, or scroll down to see everything you have installed.
Choose an app and you’ll see a widget preview. If more than one option exists, you can swipe between them. Tap Add Widget to add it to your Home Screen.
You can add multiple widgets from a single app, and they can be moved around Home Screens much like apps can. Tap-hold any widget and select Edit Widget to update its settings (if it has any) or use Remove Widget to delete it.
And now the bad news
The widgets system is currently quite buggy. You might need to launch an app before its entry appears in the widgets list. Some will also require permissions for things like photo and location access – although that of course is not a bug!
Something that is: blank, unresponsive widgets that present as white or black blank spaces and do nothing. We’ve had this happen often. Occasionally, the issue resolves. If not, a device restart is required to fix things.
Top widgets for your iPhone and iPad
Our selection of the best widgets around, updated for iOS 15 and iPadOS 15.
Apollo (free + optional IAP)
About the app: Get more from Reddit through a combination of flexible views, efficient navigation and powerful editing.
About the widgets: So. Many. Options. There are widgets for individual or multiple posts, a feed grid, beautiful wallpapers, shortcuts, jokes and ‘showerthoughts’ to make you think.
Carrot Weather (free + IAP)
About the app: Mix weather forecasting with personality. Carrot tells you whether it’ll rain or shine while dishing out snark.
About the widgets: Plentiful options, from forecasts with snark to weather maps with rainfall. Note that various options require specific subscription tiers.
Cheatsheet Notes (free + $4.99/£4.49 IAP)
About the app: A place to house small pieces of info you regularly refer to. With Cheatsheet Notes, you’ll never again write on your hand in pen.
About the widgets: Several options for showing your notes, some of which have configurable action buttons. Just don’t have any note be your PIN number, eh?
Cloud Battery (free or $2.99/£2.49)
About the app: As long as this app’s running in the background, it will report battery levels to any other devices where the app’s installed.
About the widgets: A few different sizes exist, to suit how many bits of kit you want or need to show. You can opt whether or not to display device names and charge percentages.
About the app: Dig into currency conversions by way of a user-configurable list, a calculator, and charts of wiggly lines that show rates over time.
About the widgets: A few different sizes to place on your Home screen. Pay for premium and you can customize what’s shown, rather than just mirroring the app.
Dark Noise ($9.99/£8.99)
About the app: Play ambient sounds to help you focus, relax or sleep. Want to get creative? Make custom mixes, triggered with a tap.
About the widgets: A range of sleek-looking buttons for playing favorite sounds or mixes. You choose whether or not you need names alongside them.
Deliveries (free or $4.99/£4.99 per year)
About the app: If you order a lot online, Deliveries provides a single location into which you can add details and track where all your stuff has got to.
About the widgets: There’s a little one that shows your next delivery and a larger option that includes a summary of other deliveries you’ve added to the app.
Dice by PCalc ($1.99/£1.79)
About the app: Whether you want a single six-sided dice or more complex dice sets for D&D, this app lets you roll for glory right on your iPhone.
About the widgets: No live dice (widgets can’t be interactive), but the next best thing: tap buttons to trigger a dice roll in the app, the result being recorded in the widget.
Fantastical ($4.99/£4.99 per month)
About the app: Power up planning with a calendar that goes beyond Apple’s, with its events ticker, natural language, calendar sets, and more.
About the widgets: Massive date ‘icons’ you could feasibly see from across the street, along with various combinations of calendars and event lists.
About the app: A focus timer with a difference, Forest grows virtual trees as the clock ticks down – and kills them if you head to another app and don’t heed Forest’s warnings.
About the widgets: You can add a widget for today’s forest, one that adds how productive you’ve been over time, a shortcuts widget, or a big combo with everything.
About the app: This cheery and usable app helps you cut down on food waste by adding details about food expiry dates and notifying you at oportune moments.
About the widgets: You can add a widget for the food that needs eating immediately, an overview of your ongoing list, or one that’s a handy combination of both.
Kitchen Stories (free + optional IAP)
About the app: Rethinking cookbooks, Kitchen Stories serves up delicious recipes with snaps for each step and videos to help you learn new skills.
About the widgets: The recipe of the day widget provides inspiration for your next meal; alternatively, access cookbooks from your Home Screen.
Launcher with Multiple Widgets (free + $7.99/£6.99)
About the app: The original app-launching widget, Launcher lets you create old-style widgets for Today view and shiny new widgets for beyond.
About the widgets: Two sizes each here for bespoke launchers, recently launched, and most launched. The first of those must of course first be configured in the app.
About the app: A dictionary with a difference, Lookup has a sense of fun. Alongside definitions and synonyms are quizzes and a discovery tab.
About the widgets: You can add widgets to quickly get at liked words and quizzes, but word of the day is our favorite option.
About the app: If you’re into photography and want to track what the moon and sun are up to, this app gives you the details – all wrapped up in a gorgeous interface.
About the widgets: Three widgets each for gaining insight into the moon and sun’s whereabouts. They look particularly great on dark Home screen backgrounds.
About the app: The main app is a flip clock, displaying the time and date at a size you could conceivably see from across the street.
About the widgets: You can adjust the appearance of the in-app clock, but the widgets are far more diverse, including clocks based on classic computing, movies and more.
MusicHarbor (free or $5.99/£4.99)
About the app: Follow your favorite artists, bands and labels, to keep up with new and upcoming releases – and play previews right in the app.
About the widgets: There are several widget sizes for new and upcoming releases, along with stats alternatives for numbers wonks.
About the app: Keep track of your favorite websites by subscribing to their feeds and reading headlines and even entire articles in this sleek, responsive app.
About the widgets: There are widgets for saved, unread and recent articles, in different sizes. Tap a headline and the article will appear, ready to read.
Photo Widget — The Best One (free)
About the app: An alternative to Apple’s automated Photos widget – and amusingly named – this app has you define which specific snaps or albums to include.
About the widgets: Three sizes of widget that display photos or albums you choose, and which can refresh at user-defined intervals of between a minute and a day.
Solar Watch (free or $9.99/£9.99 per year)
About the app: A weather app obsessed with light, Solar Watch is ideal for tracking daylight time and as an aid to capturing perfect pics.
About the widgets: Three options: sunrise and sunset times for favorite cities, a more detailed (and gorgeous) widget for a single location, or just the solar wheel.
About the app: Get more from Apple Music in this iPhone-only app by surfacing acts and songs, and create ‘magic mixes’ created to your personal taste.
About the widgets: If Soor’s in the background, control it with Now Playing widgets. Other widgets let you start a magic mix, or a song/album/playlist from a favorites grid you can set-up in minutes.
About the app: Have a fighting chance of reaching inbox zero with this revolutionary email app packed full of time-saving productivity features.
About the widgets: A range of sizes and options, letting you peek at your inbox, check your calendar, or even kick off quick actions in the app itself.
Star Walk 2 ($2.99/£2.49 + optional IAP)
About the app: Explore the heavens in the palm of your hand or use augmented reality to learn more about what’s in the night sky.
About the widgets: Several widgets are available: small ones for tips and conditions; a larger one for what’s in the sky tonight; and a lovely planets chart.
Sticky Widgets (free or $2.99/£2.49)
About the app: Remember those sticky notes you use to put everywhere before everything went digital? They’re now back on your iPhone and iPad.
About the widgets: Choose your size, stick the note on your Home Screen, and use Edit Widget to adjust its color, font and ID. Tap a note when outside of widget editing mode to update its text/list items in the main app.
About the app: Infuse good habits into your routine by defining a handful of new ones and using Streaks to keep tabs on your efforts.
About the widgets: You get the choice of giant app icons that show a task’s progression or alternatives that help you track how your streaks are progressing.
Streaks Workout ($3.99/£3.49)
About the app: Exercise without the need for a personal trainer, gym or even equipment. Customize workouts to suit your needs and available time.
About the widget: Just one widget here, displaying your streak count, and giving you single-tap access to the main app.
About the app: Get things done with this elegant to-do manager that makes great use of streamlined organizational flow and top-notch design. There’s a separate iPad version too.
About the widgets: Keep tabs on one of your task lists by putting it right on your Home screen, using one of the app’s three different widget sizes.
Widgeridoo (free + $4.99/£4.49 IAP)
About the app: Fashion your own multi-purpose widgets (health; text; events; dates), utilizing a building block approach that makes the going easy.
About the widgets: Select a size (small/medium/large) and then edit the widget to decide which of your creations is displayed in that particular slot.
Widgetsmith ($1.99/£1.99 per month)
About the app: Browse widget templates, customize them to your needs, and set them to appear based on rules you define.
About the widgets: As per Widgeridoo, you get three different sizes of widget to add to your Home Screen, and use Edit Widget to decide what’s displayed in each.
About the app: With 40 million articles in the palm of your hand, Wikipedia ensures you’ll never want for general knowledge.
About the widgets: Picture of the day, on this day, and top reads are all available in three different sizes. Instant brain food!