For starters, the widgets are in the Today view of the Notification Center, not the home screen. The widgets will only be activated when they have something to show. And you can scroll through them vertically.
The first slew of widgets features everything from live updates for websites and game scores to utilities for quick calculations. The potential with widgets is massive and will only get better with time.
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How To Enable App Widgets
Widgets are bundled and installed along with the app, but they are disabled by default. Once you’ve downloaded the iOS 8 update for the app that features a widget, pull down the Notification Center, go to the Today view, scroll down, and tap the Edit button.
Here you’ll see all the available widgets. To enable a third party widget simply tap the green plus button. Some widgets will work immediately while some will need you to open the newly updated app once.
Don’t Over Do It With Widgets
Even on a 2 year old iPhone 5, widgets don’t lag. Utilities are ready to go as soon as you scroll and start tapping.
Widgets run separately from apps and don’t run in the background. The only time they refresh is when you pull down the Notification Center. This should wade off any battery concerns, unless you’re a compulsive Notification Center checker.
I haven’t noticed a significant hit to the battery as of yet, but if I do, I’ll update you here.
The premise of a widget is that it either gives you information faster than it would take you to open the app or lets you launch an app-specific shortcut. If you have a lot of widgets, you’ll be spending a lot of time scrolling through them. Try out as many widgets as you like but after experimenting, only keep the ones you really need.
And now, here’s the running list of the best third party widgets I’ve come across. I’ll be updating this post every couple of days so feel free to bookmark the page.
The Running List Of Best Widgets
The Evernote widget provides quick access buttons for a new note, photo, reminder, or list. For a heavy Evernote user, using the notification widget shortcut to jump to a specific part of the app can save a lot of time.
Day One ($4.99) shows a graph of your most recent journal entries coupled with a photo/entry you made on the same day last year. If it can’t find that data, the widget will show a random photo from your Day One account.
Wdgts is a collection of utilities like calculator, calendar, currency converter, and time zone for the Notification Center. Once the app is installed you can enable each utility in the same way as explained above.
Open the app to set defaults for currency conversion or to select photos. The $0.99 pro version gives you extra features like a scrollable month view, the option to copy calculations and conversions, etc.
If you use the Kindle app to read a lot on your iPad or iPhone, this widget will come in handy. It will show you the most recent book you’ve been reading, and tapping it takes you straight to the page you were just on.
The Audible widget keeps track of what you’re listening to and lets you resume with a tap of a button.
Matter’s Inspiration Widget
Matter ($1.99) is an image editing app that adds cool 3D objects to photos as if they belong. Their new widget features a new photo and quote everyday. (Screenshot via Imgur)
TeeVee 3 ($2.99) is my TV show tracker of choice and now it has a widget to tell me about the upcoming shows.
Launcher lets you do what jailbreakers have been doing for years – put app shortcuts in the Notification Center. There’s not just that – you can put shortcuts for WhatsApp message, iMessage, a custom action and a lot more.
Always keep forgetting that one thing? Cheatsheet is a permanent task list. Add something from the app and it will show up on the widget. It will stay there till you delete it. Simple.
Asana, everyone’s new favorite task management app has a widget so you can stay up on all the things you need to get done.