Widgets were one of the biggest parts of last year’s iOS update, and Apple didn’t forget it for iOS 15. That’s right, iOS 15 pays more attention to other features – like FaceTime group calls, new Focus mode and improvements to existing apps – but widgets get some welcome additions as well.
Think of widgets in iOS 15 as Apple refined a process that began in iOS 14, where you could finally place widgets on the home screen. In iOS 15, Apple added some new widgets of its own, changing the Smart Stack feature that combines multiple widgets and makes it easier to discover new widgets. While there are no major changes, they are still welcome, and they promise to make the widget experience better than ever.
This is what to expect from the widget when you download iOS 15, whether you’re trying out the public beta now or wait until the final version arrives this fall.
Before we discover Apple’s new iOS 15 widgets included with this software update, let’s take a brief refresh course on what Apple introduced in iOS 14 and where you can find widgets in Apple’s iPhone software.
The widget is a mini version of the app that offers at -a -glance information – the current temperature from the Weather app, your upcoming appointments from the Calendar, even a selection of your favorite photos from Photos. Starting in iOS 14, you can place these widgets on your home screen, and the Smart Stack feature lets you combine multiple widgets, which you can swipe or let iOS switch between them automatically.
You have several ways to find widgets. The easiest method is to edit the home screen wherever you use.
1. Long press on an app or widget and select Edit Home Screen from the drop -down menu that appears.
2. All the apps and widgets on your home screen will start to sway, but you definitely want to press the Plus (+) button in the upper left corner of the screen.
You’ll be taken to the available widgets screen, which displays widgets for Apple’s built -in iPhone apps as well as third -party apps installed on your phone.
You can also access the widget menu by swiping right to go to the Today screen, which places active widgets that you haven’t placed on the home screen yet. Scroll down the page, and tap the edit button. You’ll get the same sway screen as in step 2 above, and from there you can tap the Plus (+) button to see other available widgets.
So, once you figure out how to head to the widget screen, what awaits you in iOS 15? In addition to the widgets available for built -in apps that first appeared in last year’s iPhone software update, iOS 15 introduced new widgets for Mail, Find My, Contacts, Sleep, App Store and Game Center. Here’s a more in-depth picture of what each one conveys.
Mail: Apple promises quick access to one of your mailboxes via the new Mail widget. So far, the option I have on my widget screen is a list of messages from senders that I set as VIP. Both options show either the last two messages or the last four messages.
Find me: You have several widget options for Find Me – ome that allow you to see the location of family and friends etc. that will help you keep an eye on your stuff. Presumably, the latter widget will be very useful if you have purchased an Apple AirTag for tracking keys and other objects. Both versions of the Find Me widget are available in rectangular and rectangular views.
Contacts: The contact widget is really something – easily my favorite iOS 15 widget. On the surface, it seems simple enough – the widget has a contact name that you can tap to access their information from the Contacts app. Depending on the size of the widget, you can show anywhere from one to six contacts.
But if you interact a lot with certain contacts, the next page that pops up when you tap their name on the widget is a must -see sight. Yes, you get quick links to make phone calls, send texts, launch FaceTime calls, send emails and even send payments through Apple Pay. But if you interact a lot with that person, you can also find out about your interactions – the latest texts and emails as well as the photos and links you’ve shared. If there is an appointment with that contact, they will be there too. Very useful because all the information is ready.
Sleep: If you use the sleep tracking feature in the iOS 15 Health app, there’s now a widget that details how well you’re sleeping (or not in my case) and lets you check your sleep schedule.
Application store: Apple’s Today on the App Store gets its own widget, available as a square, rectangle or block that fills half the screen. This is a great way to be notified about in -app events, and Apple also uses it to highlight a collection of compiled apps.
Game center: Apple’s often overlooked game management app now has two widgets – one that pops up recently games and the other that lets you see what your GameCenter friends have played.
New widgets are a major focus in iOS 15, but the software update also introduces some widget management features. The one I use most often to date is the ability to rearrange Smart Stack – that is, change the order of widgets in the Smart Stack collection. Presumably, widgets at the top of the list are given greater priority, although widgets can also appear at certain times of the day and in certain places, based on your activity. (Calendar appointments appear at the beginning of the day, for example, or the Maps widget appears when you’re away from home.)
To rearrange a Smart Stack is simply a long press on the Smart Stack and selecting Edit Stack from the next drop-down menu. You’ll get a widget window in the stack that you can rearrange by dragging; you can also delete widgets from within the stack. I consider the drag to be a bit bad, especially on iPhones with smaller screens, but that fits my old complaint about home screen management – I hope Apple offers a more accurate method of dragging.
Other iOS 15 widget changes include Apple’s promise to make smart widget recommendations, with widgets for apps you’re already using appearing in Smart Stacks automatically based on previous activity. Apple says there is a new layout as well, aimed at helping widget discovery. I don’t see any features while I’m using the iOS 15 beta.
The ability to add widgets to the home screen boosted the iOS 14 update a year ago, improving the iPhone experience. iOS 15 doesn’t try anything radical – not with widgets. But this goes on, proving that Apple’s approach to widgets is here to stay afloat.