One of the spanking new features in iOS 8 is third-party widgets, but unless you’ve specifically gone looking for them, there’s a chance you’ve yet to see them first hand.
Indeed, we had a question along those lines the other day, when iGetBored asked: “Does anyone have any recommendations of something I can install to see some iOS 8 widgets in action?” Ask and ye shall receive! (Er, and credit to Jan and TJ Skywasher for replying at the time, ta!).
A few questions, before we get started. Time to roll out the bold font. Ready?
What is a widget?
For years, Android users have installed widgets on their homescreens for services like weather and social networking. They offer at-a-glance information, or perhaps shortcuts to functionality (like posting a tweet) without having to open a full app.
Where are my iOS 8 widgets?
Your iOS 8 widgets live in the Notification Center. Swipe down from any screen, including the lock screen, to instantly see your iOS 8 widgets under ‘Today’.
How do I find new iOS 8 widgets?
Well, iOS 8 widgets aren’t a separate thing, as such. That is, you can’t just install an iOS 8 widget; you have to download an app that makes use of Apple’s invitation to install a widget in Notification Center. Make sense? Good!
How do I know if an iOS 8 app has a widget? How do I activate a new widget?
Widgets aren’t installed automatically, but it’s an incredibly simple process to get them up and running.
To check for new iOS 8 widgets, just swipe down to bring up Control Center. Right at the bottom you’ll see the ‘Edit’ button, and possibly this: ‘New Widget(s) available’ with a little number beside it.
Tap the ‘Edit’ button and you’ll see all your active iOS 8 widgets at the top, and a list of available iOS 8 widgets at the bottom under ‘Do not include’. Just tap the little green plus to add a widget. Easy!
Ok, without further rambling-flavoured ado, let’s get back to those five free iOS 8 widgets.
1. Swipe Dial
Swipe Dial offers similar functionality to iOS 8 Favourites (which is accessed by double tapping the Home button, incidentally). You define your favourite contacts in the Swipe Dial app and resultantly you can call them by simply pulling down for Contact Center and tapping on the desired face. A handy one for accessing from the lock screen.
There’s no shortage of iOS 8 weather widgets out there, but Yahoo Weather has the advantage of being a) free, and b) pretty good!
Stocard is just how it, er, sounds: Store Card. Again, another handy one for accessing from the lock screen, essentially offering shortcuts to your loyalty cards for Starbucks or Costa Coffee or whatever.
SnapStats is potentially an iNerd’s dream, with subsections for Device info (Name, System, Boot Time, Jailbreak status), Network (Connection, Wi-Fi Sent, Wi-Fi Received, Cellular Sent, Cellular Received), Battery, Disk (Used, Free), RAM and CPU.
The full name for this one is Wdgts: A Collection of Awesome Notification Center Widgets. How modest!
To be fair, Wdgts is pretty awesome, with not one but several widgets, encompassing a Calculator, Currency Converter, Time Zone, Calendar and Photo Frame, and a few others (Network Monitor, Battery and Memory) available for 69p.