New iOS 8 feature: widgets!

IMG_0426iOS 8 introduced a long-requested feature: third-party widgets. We’ve had Apple-made widgets for some time now in the form of the Today pulldown shade. This showed you your calendar, stocks, and weather. But now any app can offer to do small tasks or give you instant information without loading the full app.

To see your widgets simply swipe your finger down from the earpiece. This works from within any app or even from the lock screen. To dismiss your widgets just swipe up from the bottom or press the home button. If you want to disable access from the lock screen you can find this in Settings > Touch ID & Passcode (or Passcode depending on your model).

To edit your widget list, pull down the widget shade, scroll to the bottom, and tap “Edit”. From there you’ll see widgets that are offered by apps you have installed and can drag to rearrange, or tap plus or minus to add or remove them. The edit button will be missing if you access your widgets from the lock screen.

Some cool widgets:

  • Transit: Shows you real-time arrivals for nearby transit stops such as Metrobus.
  • Evernote: Allows you to instantly create a new note (though this really just launches the app into the appropriate location; it would be really cool if it would pop open a little note field).
  • Swarm: Allows you to check in without loading the app.
  • Kindle: Shows you your current books and allows you to jump right into one by tapping it on the widget. Useful for people who like to read multiple books at once.
  • Dropbox: Shows you the most recently added files.
  • OpenTable: Shows you upcoming reservations.
  • LivingSocial: Shows you today’s deal.
  • Washington Post (and many other news sources): See new headlines.