Introducing the new World of Widgets
Apple’s new iOS 14 update has given us many improvements: inline replies in Messages, headphone customization, mirrored selfies, and of course the App Library. But there’s one iOS 14 update you’re probably seeing all over your social, and that’s the newly available widgets. Everyone’s using them to make their screen more aesthetic and stylish; they come in three sizes and are customizable by color, font, and content. There’s a lot of stressors in the world right now, and giving my phone a makeover seemed like a great distraction, as well as something that might actually prove useful. With this in mind, I set out to make my phone both prettier and more efficient. I did some research, and ended up downloading two of the hottest apps for comparison: Color Widgets, and Widget World.
What IS a widget?!
I barely knew anything about widgets when I started on my ~journey~, but you don’t have to be a technical expert to improve your iPhone experience and its aesthetics.
Simply put, an application is a big program, and a widget is a mini program which draws often-used functions from the app that can be used outside the app. For example, you might be able to play, pause, and skip tracks on a widget outside your music app, without going into the app itself.
Apple also has a new feature called Smart Stack, which uses Apple’s existing widgets. iPhone will automatically rank your widgets on the Stack based off of your existing app use during the day — for example, if you check the news in the morning and tomorrow’s weather at night, then those apps will show up at the times you normally use them. However, the Smart Stack can also be customized with apparently infinite widgets in the order that you want them.
With the new update, you can also download customizable widgets which can be used for every function you use a lot on your phone — weather, music, reminders, notes, calendars, whatever! Instead of just showing you the information at a glance you need, they can also be decorated with different background and font colors, different typefaces, and even different sizes: small widgets are the size of a 2x2 block of app icons, medium widgets are the size of a 2x4 block (the entire width of your home screen!) and large widgets are the size of a 4x4 icon block. The best part? You can move the widgets to any point on the home screen — no more blocking of the best half of your favorite background wallpaper! No more grids of icons if you don’t want them! Finally the look of the device you use the most — your phone — can be fully customized to your personality and needs.
What categories of widgets are there?
Both Color Widgets and Widget World have clocks, weather, reminders, steps, calendars, quotes, and countdowns, with various backgrounds and fonts available (neon, minimal, pastel, etc.). In Color Widgets, some are customizable with your own photo background. Some categories and more options for customization can only be unlocked with a premium membership. I found the user experience in the Color Widgets app to be a bit clunky: the categories and options are arbitrarily organized and a bit repetitive, without a clear distinction between the free and premium options. The customization options are also more limited than I would like; they are lacking the option to change the color or font of individual content types (date or day of the week), and you can’t change the names of those categories too, which is annoying if you want to alter a base-level widget. However, there is a “your text here” widget which allows for personalized content, so if you really wanted to build your own line-up of information it is probably possible.
Widget World vs Color Widgets
I liked the organization of widget options in the Widget World app a lot better: the widget types are divided into clear categories on separate pages: quotes, clocks, weather, reminders, calendars, they’re all easy to explore. Using the Widget World app also is also a much friendlier user experience, and the app is a lot better looking. There are many more designs, and each category has its own concept design. The customization options are also a lot more detailed: each part of the content — for example the month, time, or battery — can be altered with different colors and fonts, allowing maximum customization which Color Widgets doesn’t allow. You can even choose which content you want to be visible or invisible, which is a great idea — I love being able to control the flow of information around my home screen. Honestly, the designs are also just cooler, and you can experience the full range of designs in your collection through customization. The Color Widget app doesn’t allow this; only one customized widget is saved at a time, whereas in the Widget World app you can draw from your own saved library of individual customized widgets.
What about the cost?
Both apps have a premium option: a Color Widgets subscription costs $1.99 a month, which unlocks all widgets and broadens the design library. The free library of widgets, as I mentioned above, is a bit limited and doesn’t include the weather, so this is an okay option if you want a better widget experience, but I think the Widget World options are actually better value for money.
Widget World Pro is $7.99; that includes all widgets and features such as visible / invisible content, colors, and fonts; all customizations unlocked, and the vast design library and subsequent updates available. To unlock any single individual widget is $1.99, but you can customize that base widget as many times as you want, and you get to keep all your customized versions in your collection.
Widgets are amazing
Before this update landed on my phone I’d never thought about widgets at all, but now I am totally sold. I love being able to glance at my screen and get all the information I need immediately without opening up a bunch of different apps. After trying them both, I think Widget World is the best widget app: you just can’t beat the design and customization options. Before, my home screen was disorganized and difficult to navigate, but now, after a bit of work — that was so fun it didn’t feel like work — my home screen is a joyously color-coordinated lineup of everything I need. Check your phone right now, and download iOS 14 if you haven’t already. A new world of widgets awaits you!
You can download both apps and try them out!