WWDC 2020 - iOS Home Screen Widgets

Google’s Android OS has had them for years. Now, finally, widgets are coming to Apple devices.

Today, at a virtual edition of its World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple previewed the next release of iOS. Now in its 14th iteration, the new release is coming later this year and as most OS upgrades is bringing several major new features. Some highlights include:

  • An auto-organized and searchable App Library
  • Improved Siri interface
  • New Translation app supporting English, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin, German, Arabic and other languages
  • Pinnable conversations in Messages app
  • New Guides feature for Apple Maps
  • Car unlock feature for Apple CarPlay (arriving in 2021 with BMW 5 Series)

iOS 14: Widgets – “Beautiful and data rich”

But the one new feature that will appease those reluctant Android switchers will likely be home screen widgets:

iOS 14 - Widgets home screen at WWDC Tim Cook

Apple WWDC iOS 14 home screen widget library examples

Widgets are re-sizable bits of information that sit on your home screen in panels next to app icons. The idea is that you can see key information — say a weather forecast or stock price information — without having to launch an app.

Current versions of iOS on both the iPhone and iPad do have a sidebar with widgets that you can access by swiping left to right on the main home screen. However, that requires an extra step. Widgets integrated into the home screen should, in theory, increase productivity by allowing users to glean more information at a glance without having to take extra steps. Again, Android users have had customizable widgets — it seems — forever.

iOS 14: Widget Gallery 

iOS 14 Widget Gallery search widgets add to home screen

iOS 14: Library App

In addition to an auto organizing Library App, another related home screen feature in iOS 14 includes the ability to organize and edit home pages, as seen here in this preview:

CEO Tim Cook kicked off the WWDC presentation today with comments about the George Floyd killing and racial equality and justice.

Other topics at WWDC included updates to iPadOS, watchOS, tvOS and macOS (Big Sur). Also, previews of new Mac hardware were demonstrated with a shift from Intel to Apple processors on track for a 2021 transition.

iOS 14 for iPhone and iPad ships later this year. Apple’s virtual WWDC runs June 22 through June 26, 2020.