What Is a Widget on iPhone and How Do You Use Them?

hands holding a red iPhone XR with the homescreen displayed.

What Is a Widget on iPhone and How Do You Use Them?

Key Points

  • Widgets are small, interactive versions of your favorite apps that can be placed on your phone’s screen, providing specific information or performing specific tasks without opening the full app.
  • iPhone added custom widgets with the release of iOS 14 in September 2020, giving users more flexibility and convenience for their home and lock screens.
  • iPhone widgets make it easier to check the weather, view calendar events, control music playback, and more directly from the home screen, streamlining daily tasks and making the iPhone experience more efficient.
  • To add a widget to your home screen or lock screen, touch and hold an empty area of the screen, tap the Plus (+) button, choose the feature and size, drag and drop it where you want it, and tap Done.
  • To add a widget to the Today View screen, swipe left on your home screen, tap Edit, and choose your shortcuts.

Practically since the origin of the smartphone, one word has floated around discussions of iPhone vs. Android. That word is widget. Which smartphone manufacturer has them? Which manufacturer doesn’t? For the longest time, Android users argued that widgets put their brand over Apple’s. However, that all changed when the iPhone added widgets to its operating system, too. What is a widget in the first place? When did iPhone add them to iOS? And how can you use them to your advantage on your iPhone? Here’s what you need to know.

What Is a Widget?

Add Widgets menu on iPhone lock screen.
iOS users can add miniature widgets to their lock screen.


Smartphone widgets go by many different names depending on the developer or software. Some call them shortcuts. Some call them features. No matter what you label them, their purpose remains the same. They’re small, interactive versions of your favorite apps that are placed on your phone’s screen.

Be it your home screen or your lock screen, widgets function like handy mini versions of your favorite apps. They display specific information or perform specific tasks without requiring you to open the full app. From weather bulletins to calendar events to news headlines and beyond, these shortcuts save you time and make your phone more efficient in the process.

Smartphone users can upgrade their home screen with custom layouts to suit their specific needs. Most can be customized to fit many different shapes and sizes, allowing users to pick the one that best fits their style and screen layout. You can move them around, stack them on top of each other, or resize them to make your screen truly your own.

When Did iPhone Add Widgets?

Search Widgets feature on iOS.
iPhone lock screens have a long list of widget options.


iPhone added custom widgets with the release of iOS 14 in September 2020. Needless to say, iOS users had been waiting for this feature for years. As we mentioned above, widgets were one of the key talking points in the Android vs. Apple debate. Android loyalists long argued their operating system’s superiority (and Apple’s lack thereof) based on the inclusion of widgets. 

Before iOS 14, iPhone home screens were filled with basic app icons and limited room for personalization. By introducing widgets, Apple finally gave its loyal users the flexibility and convenience they deserved for their home and lock screens. With this move, iPhone users could enjoy quick access to important information and functions without opening full apps.

iPhone widgets make it easier to check the weather, see your calendar events, view headlines, and control essential features like music playback or smart home devices directly from the home screen. This change aimed to streamline daily tasks, reduce the time spent navigating through apps, and make the iPhone experience more efficient and user-friendly. Not to mention more stylized.

How to Use a Widget on iPhone

IMDb widget on iPhone home screen.
It’s easy to add, edit, and move widgets around your iPhone screen.


To add a widget to your home screen, touch and hold your finger down on an empty area of the screen. Once the apps on the screen start jiggling, tap the Plus (+) button in the top-left corner. This brings up the widget menu. You’ll see options like Smart Stack, Reminders, Calendar, Clock, Photos, and more. Choose the feature (or features) you’d like to add to your screen. Then, choose your preferred size for the feature by swiping through the available options. Tap the Add (+) button, then drag and drop it where you want it. Lastly, tap “Done” in the top right-hand corner.

To add one to your lock screen, the process looks very much the same. Unlock the phone, then press and hold until the “Customize” button appears. Choose “Lock Screen”, then “Add Widgets.” This brings up a smaller, more compact version of the widget menu. Drag and drop the features you want to add to your lock screen, close the menu, and then tap “Done” in the top right-hand corner.

To add one to the Today View screen, simply swipe all the way to the left on your home screen and then tap “Edit”. Hit the Plus (+) button and choose your shortcuts just as you did on the home screen. You can also create custom stacks on Today View or the home screen by dragging one shortcut on top of another.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are widgets on iPhone?

Widgets are small, interactive app shortcuts displayed on your iPhone’s screen, providing quick access to essential information from apps. To add a widget, tap and hold on an empty area of your home screen, then tap the Plus (+) button in the upper lefthand corner. Choose a widget from the list and customize its size and placement by dragging and dropping.

Can I customize widgets?

Yes, you can customize both widget size and placement. After adding a widget, tap and hold it, select “Edit Widget,” and choose the desired size. To rearrange widgets, tap and hold any widget until they all start jiggling. Then, drag and drop them to your preferred positions.

Do all apps have widgets?

Not all apps offer widgets, but most of the popular ones do. Explore the widget gallery to see which apps support widgets. Some apps also allow you to create custom widgets. Check if the app you want to customize offers this feature in the widget gallery.

Where can you put widgets on iPhone?

Widgets can be placed on the iPhone home screen, lock screen, and Today View screen. You can view widget information by swiping right on the lock screen (or by swiping right on the home screen to access Today View). you can also view widgets on your home screen if placed there.

Do widgets use a lot of battery?

Widgets are designed to be energy-efficient. They should have a minimal impact on your iPhone’s battery life. Because widgets are available on iPhones running iOS 14 or later, you may notice faster battery consumption on older models compared to newer ones.

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