iOS 14 iPhone Widgets: What are they and how to use?

Make the most of your iPhone Home Screen with widgets!

by: - Last updated on: September 24th, 2020

Unless you have been living under a rock or were completely isolated from the internet for the past week, you would have some cognizance over the excitement around iOS 14. In particular, the ability to revamp the Home Screen appearance by adding custom widgets, which iPhone users seem to be relishing with all the zest, leading to overpouring screenshots of personalized Home Screens all over the internet. However, in case you are unaware, we’ve got you covered with a detailed guide on widgets on iOS 14 to help you make the most of your iPhone’s Home Screen.

iOS 14 widgets

Even though Apple announced iOS 14 at the WWDC 2020 earlier this year, the public rollout was an accelerated one. As a result, it was subject to exasperation for a lot of app developers during the initial days of the release — mostly because the developers could not make the necessary changes in their app, and therefore, could not provide functionalities, like the revamped widgets, to the users updating to iOS 14, right away. In case you are unaware, this is a departure from the company’s traditional approach of iOS release, wherein it used to give at least a week’s heads up to the app developers to make the required changes before the update went live to the public.

iOS 14 iPhone Widgets

To give you an abstract, widgets are your portal to a variety of information and quick functionality on your iPhone. The information can be anything from weather updates, reminders, to-dos, etc., to battery status, screen time insights, or even information from third-party apps. On the other hand, quick functionality can include the ability to perform certain (system or app-specific) actions right from the home screen, without having to open the app. Until now, widgets used to live in the Today view, which is accessible with a swipe (from left to right) on the home screen. However, with iOS 14, you can also add them to the Home Screen. To give you an idea of the usability, iOS 14 offers widgets for different apps present on your iPhone, be it system apps or certain third-party apps. Moreover, if you want to go all out, you can also find a few widget-specific apps on the App Store that allow you to create custom widgets.

Widget sizes

iOS 14 widget sizes

Apple is offering widgets in three different sizes on iOS 14: small, medium, and large. So, depending on what information or functionality you need and how much home screen estate you want to be occupied, you can select a widget in any of the three sizes accordingly. However, a thing to note here is that not all widgets are available in all three size options.

Widget gallery

Unlike iOS 13, which involved all the widgets residing in the Today view, with iOS 14, Apple is offering the ability to add those widgets to the Home Screen as well. Thus, allowing you to put the Home Screen to more use and take better advantage of the widgets. To do this, Apple has introduced a Widget gallery on iOS 14 that shows you a list of all the available widgets — from both system and third-party apps — present on your device.

iOS 14 widget gallery

You can access the Widget gallery by long-pressing on any Home Screen until the icons go into the ‘jiggle’ mode, and then tapping on the + button on the top left. Once done, you should see a list of all the available widgets, along with a preview (for some), to give you an idea of the available information. From here, you can scroll down and tap on any widget to expand it to see a preview and the available widget sizes.

How to add widgets on iOS 14?

There are a few different ways in which you can add a widget on your iOS 14 Home Screen. First, talking about the basic approach, while in the Widget gallery, tap on any widget to expand it. As mentioned in the previous section, here you can see a preview of the widget along with the available size options. Now, depending on your requirement, select a widget size and click on the Add Widget button below to add it to a Home Screen.

adding a single iOS 14 widget

On the other hand, if you already have widgets in the Today view — accessible with a swipe from left to right — or a Home Screen, you can drag them from there on to the home screen, and vice-versa, to arrange the widgets to your liking.

While these methods allow you to add and arrange widgets on your Home Screen, they are limited to one individual widget. A single widget can be helpful for most use-case scenarios, but it is not the most feasible option when you require multiple widgets on a Home Screen. To deal with this, Apple offers another widget option, called widget stacks, which allows you to have multiple widgets stacked on top of each other. Thus, leveraging the estate of a single widget to allow you to fit more information or functionality.

adding a smart stack widget

With widget stack, there are two ways to add widgets. The first involves using Apple’s own widget stack offering, Smart Stack, which is essentially a pre-built collection of multiple widgets that are selected based on factors like time, location, or activity. To add a Smart Stack widget, tap and hold anywhere on a Home Screen and click the + button on the top left. You will now be presented in the widget gallery. Here, scroll down and select Smart Stack. Now, depending on your use-case, select a widget size and tap on Add Widget. Once added, the widget will automatically rotate the widgets through the day to show the relevant information at that time.

On the other hand, the second method allows you to create a custom widget stack with up to 10 widgets. Compared to Smart Stack, a widget stack offers more control over the widgets you need in a stack. Thus, allowing you to leverage the widget stack feature to its full potential. To create a custom widget stack, you need to first add multiple single widgets on a Home Screen. [Note: the single widgets you add need to be of the same size.] Next, tap and hold a widget and drag it on top of the other to create a stack. Furthermore, to add more widgets to this stack, follow the same step over again. Once you have created your widget stack, you should have a carousel of these widgets. Finally, you can rotate/go through the widgets in the stack by scrolling up or down on the widget stack to view information or perform actions.

How to edit/remove widgets on iOS?

While there are a wide variety of widgets available, not every single one of them meets the requirement of every user. You can always add widgets to your Home Screen to get an idea and remove them in case you don’t find them helpful. To remove a widget from your Home Screen, tap and hold on it until you see a pop-up menu. From this menu, select Remove Widget.

iOS 14 remove/edit widget stack

Similarly, if you want to remove a widget stack widget (custom or Smart Stack) from a Home Screen, you can do so by following the same steps. In addition, if you want to change the order of the widgets in the stack, Apple has an option to allow you to do just that. For this, tap and hold on a widget stack, and from the pop-out menu, select Edit Stack. From here, grab the grid icon and arrange the widget as per your requirement. Similarly, you can also remove a widget in the stack by swiping over it to the left. Moreover, there is an option to enable/disable Smart Rotate, which automatically shows you relevant widgets throughout the day. Once done with the editing, hit the x button on top to close.

iOS 14 edit/remove smart stack

That’s it for this guide!

While widget support might not be the most standout feature on iOS 14, it is certainly creating a lot of stir among users, who can now finally customize their home screen to their liking — something that was long overdue on iOS. Once you spend some time fiddling with the widgets and customize them to help you with your workflow or to automate tasks, there is no looking back — especially if you use apps like Shortcuts, which can help you get a lot done across different apps through widgets, without having to open them. Moreover, you can also use apps like Widgetsmith to create better-looking, custom shortcuts to get more out of widgets on iOS 14.

However, all that said, the ability to arrange icons and widgets, anywhere on the Home Screen, continues to remain restricted. And Apple does not seem to have any intentions to remove that restriction any time soon.

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