customize Screen

iOS 14: How to customize your home screen widgets with Smart Stacks and Siri Suggestions – 9to5Mac

Widgets have instantly proven to be the most popular iOS 14 feature, allowing users to give their home screens an added layer of personalization. iOS 14 includes two built-in widget options that aim to use Siri intelligence to help further personalize your iPhone home screen widgets. Here’s how it works.

Siri Suggestions widgets

If you’re the type of person that relies heavily on swiping down to access Siri app suggestions in Spotlight search, the Siri Suggestions widget is an excellent consideration for your home screen widget. The Siri Suggestions widget will surface relevant actions “based on your usage patterns.”

There are two different Siri Suggestions widgets:

  • App Suggestions: Get app launch suggestions based on your usage patterns (Available in medium size)
  • Shortcut Suggestions: See relevant shortcut actions based on your usage patterns (Available in small, medium, and large)

My personal favorite here is the App Suggestions widget, which will present a rotating selection of app icons based on what Siri intelligence thinks you might be looking for. For example, if you commonly log your lunch in MyFitnessPal around the same time every day, the App Suggestions widget will present the MyFitnessPal icon around that time of day.

In fact, once you add the App Suggestions widget to your home screen, the app icons will look just like any other app icons. It’s a pretty nifty use of Siri intelligence, and one of the cooler widget implementations by Apple.

To find these widgets, long-press on your iOS 14 home screen to enter jiggle mode, look for the “+” in the upper-left corner, then look for “Siri Suggestions” in the list of widgets.

Smart Stacks

One of the Apple widget types in iOS 14 is a Smart Stack, which intelligently stacks multiple widgets together based on factors like time of day and Siri intelligence. By default, you can pick a prebuilt Smart Stack from the widget picker, but you can also create custom stacks of widgets.

This means you can pick different widgets and stack them on top of one another, then swipe between them. To do this, simply add one widget to your home screen, then go back to the Widget Gallery and choose another and drag it on top of the first widget. You can stack many different widgets together, then swipe through them directly from the home screen.

Once you add a Smart Stack widget to your iOS 14 home screen, you can you can long-press on it, choose “Edit Widget” and enable or disable the “Smart Rotate” feature. This feature will automatically rotate through the widgets in the stack based on time of day and Siri intelligence.

Find more third-party apps with iOS 14 features such as home screen widgets, App Clips, and more in our full roundup.

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iPhone Screen

iPhone ‘SE Plus 2020’ screen protector shows up at Best Buy with iPhone 8 Plus dimensions – 9to5Mac

Apple debuted the new iPhone SE back in March, bringing the latest A13 Bionic processor and the familiar 4.7-inch form factor of the iPhone 8. Rumors have also suggested that Apple has a “Plus” version of the new iPhone SE in the works, and a new accessory listed today at Best Buy hints at that product’s existence.

While we wouldn’t read too much into this new listing at Best Buy, it does suggest an “iPhone SE Plus 2020” product. The listing itself is for an Insignia-branded glass screen protector for the iPhone SE Plus. Of course, the timing here is a big suspect given that Apple will hold a special event in just a few hours.

In March, 9to5Mac reported on code in iOS 14 that confirmed the existence of the iPhone SE Plus. Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also confirmed that Apple is developing the iPhone SE Plus, but he has reported that its release has been delayed until the second half of 2021.

The iPhone SE Plus is expected to feature a 5.5-inch design that is virtually identical to the iPhone 8 Plus. Notably, after Apple introduced the iPhone SE in March, it also discontinued the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. This means that there is no “Plus” option available for shoppers who want an iPhone with a Home button.

Ultimately, we wouldn’t get too excited about this new listing at Best Buy. Accessory makers have no indication of when Apple might release a new product, and this Insignia listing could simply an instance of Best Buy planning for the iPhone SE Plus just in case it happens to be announced today.

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iPhone Screen

How iPhone Home Screen Widgets Work in iOS 14 – How-To Geek

iOS 14 home screen with widgets
Khamosh Pathak

After thirteen iterations of iOS, Apple is finally transforming the Home screen by adding widgets to iOS 14 and iPadOS 14. There’s a whole new framework that will let developers create new types of widgets. But there’s more to it than meets the eye.

Widgets Come Home

Apple introduced widgets to the iPhone in iOS 10. They were relegated to the Today View screen, which is accessible by swiping right on the lock screen or the Home screen.

Still, widgets became powerful tools and were incredibly useful for iPhone and iPad users who decided to use them.

But all of that changes in iOS 14. Widgets are coming home. This is the biggest change to the Home screen along with the new App Library. While the Today View section still remains and you can still keep widget there, the entire experience of adding widgets has changed.

iOS 14 Home screen with three widgets
Khamosh Pathak

Now, when you tap in any empty space on the Home screen to enter the Home screen editing view, you’ll find a “+” button in the top-right corner.

Adding widgets in iOS 14
Khamosh Pathak

Tapping it will bring up a widget picker, which shows a list of all available widgets on your phone—both from Apple’s included apps and third-party apps you’ve installed—along with previews of them.

Widget selection page in iOS 14
Khamosh Pathak

Choose a widget, a size, and just tap the “Add Widget” button to add a widget to whichever screen you’re on.

Selecting widget version in iOS 14
Khamosh Pathak

You can then move the widget anywhere you want. Well, not exactly anywhere. Unlike Android, iOS still doesn’t let you put icons or widgets anywhere on the screen.

Icons and widgets still flow from the top left of the screen to the bottom right. And yes, widgets will automatically switch to dark mode.

Widgets in light mode and dark mode

RELATED: How the New App Library Works on iPhone

But Not The Widgets You’ve Known

So, that’s the good news. Now about the bad. You see, while widgets are coming to the Home screen, they’re not the widgets you have used and loved over the past couple of years.

If a developer wants to create Home screen widgets for iOS 14, they have to use the new WidgetKit framework that’s built on Swift UI. And currently, it doesn’t support any form of interaction or live updates. This means that the new widgets are designed solely for glanceability—in other words, for quickly viewing information, just like complications in watchOS on the Apple Watch.

Showing old widgets along side new widgets in iOS 14
Left: Pre-iOS 14 widgets. Right: iOS 14 widgets.

This means that, if you’re used to calculator widgets or time-tracking widgets, you won’t find them on iOS 14. Widgets can have multiple tap targets that can be deep-linked to a part of the app, but that’s it. This is why the Music widget on iOS 14 doesn’t have any playback controls.

Showing music widget in iOS 14
Khamosh Pathak

The only exception we’ve found is the Shortcuts app—but, then again, Shortcuts automations are deeply integrated in the OS. The Shortcuts widget works independently. When you tap a shortcut, it just starts working, without opening the app. If there are any interactive elements in the shortcut, you’ll see them on the top of the screen in a floating window.

As of now, Apple has officially deprecated the older widgets. They’ll still continue to work and you can use them in the Today View screen, but you can’t add these widgets to the Home screen. We don’t when or if Apple will completely remove support for them.

RELATED: How to Add, Use, and Customize Widgets on Your iPhone

What the Future Holds

It’s clear that the nature of widgets is changing from iOS 14 and beyond. Apple’s reasoning for this change seems to be for glanceability and power management. Widgets should be designed so a user can quickly glance at it while they’re on the Home screen, and it shouldn’t drain the battery.

Widgets can update based on a timeline that’s defined by the developer, but that’s it. We hope that by this time next year, Apple has figured out a way to add interaction to widgets without sacrificing battery life.

Because when it comes to the design and UI, the new widgets look amazing on the Home screen (far better than the old widgets, which had no cohesive design language).

And in some ways, the new widgets are more flexible in iOS 14. You can have multiple versions of the same widget in the same or multiple sizes. You can stack multiple versions of the same widgets on top of each other and just flick between them.

Different sizes of widgets in iOS 14 Home screen

And, because Apple is using the Intents-based framework (from SiriKit and Shortcuts) in widgets, you can customize multiple versions of the widgets to show different kinds of data. For example, you can have three different Reminders widgets in a stack that shows your reminders from three different lists.

Customizing widget option in iOS 14
Khamosh Pathak

That’s just what Apple has done so far. We’ve yet to see what developers will be able to do using the WidgetKit framework. While we’re losing the interactivity, we’re gaining new types of widgets and a cohesive design framework.

But this is one of those wait-and-watch scenarios. We’ll know the true impact of the change once developers release their own widgets in Fall 2020—and when we see what improvements (if any) Apple makes to the WidgetKit framework in iOS 15.

RELATED: What’s New in iOS 14 (and iPadOS 14, watchOS 7, AirPods, More)

There’s a lot more to the specifics of how widgets work in iOS 14. For example, Smart Stacks will let you combine multiple widgets into a single stack of widgets you can swipe between on your iPhone. That’s one way iOS 14 will transform your iPhone (and iPad) Home screen.

RELATED: How iOS 14 Is About to Transform Your iPhone’s Home Screen

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