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Pixel Pals – pets that live on your display

Do you ever wish you could have a little digital pet that lives on your Home or Lock screen? Well, we have good news for you…

The developer behind one of our favorite iOS apps, Apollo for Reddit, made waves last month with a Tamagotchi-like feature that let a tiny pixelated animal roam around atop the new Dynamic Island on iPhone 14 Pro.

Pixel Pals in the main Apollo app

Despite the lack of interactivity, this Pixel Pals feature was cute and novel enough to become pretty popular. So much so that the dev has now spun the concept out into its own standalone app, meaning users who don’t use Apollo and those who don’t have the latest iPhone can now enjoy their very own pixel pal.

Pixel Pals

The app is extremely simple, but it smartly integrates into both Home Screen widgets and Lock Screen Activities. Choose from a selection of cutesy pixelated animals, place a widget, and watch them live out their lives. It’s a unique use of widgets, and a rare case where they update and move instead of offering static information. Upload a screenshot of your device wallpaper and you can even make those widgets transparent, making it look as though your chosen pet is wandering free amongst your Home Screen apps. Neat.

Shown here with B.I.G. mode enabled

As for what the pets actually do, the answer is… not much. They just kind of exist, wandering back and forth and taking occasional naps. You can intermittently tap a button to feed or play with them, but there’s nothing at stake if you ignore them instead.

That might make the $1.49/month premium subscription seem a bit unnecessary, but luckily the app is completely free if you stick to the dog or cat pet. Those who do pay will unlock several other animal designs, plus the chance to have two pets residing in a single widget.

Overall, it’s an app that certainly has its appeal, and the Pixel Pals included with Apollo itself aren’t going anywhere. Meanwhile, plenty of apps are starting to use Live Activities and Dynamic Island – here’s a list – and we’re sure this won’t be the last time we see this kind of fun use of widgets. Maybe Pokémon GO should copy the idea to let you keep tabs on your latest captures?