Customize Your iPhone's Today Screen
Among the tweaks and additions in iOS 10, Apple brought a welcome makeover to widgets. Previously hidden away in Notification Center, they now get their own Today screen, accessible by swiping right from either your home screen or the lock screen. Developers are updating their apps to take advantage of this feature; if one of your favorite apps already on your iPhone is available in widget form, you can find out by scrolling to the bottom of the Today screen, tapping edit and seeing if that app is listed among the widgets you can add. You can also download the following apps to help fill out your Today screen with useful widgets.
Now that Google Assistant has hit the iPhone, it has its own widget, too. Think of the Google Assistant widget as more of a shortcut to launching the app. Tap the widget, and Google Assistant launches, and from there you can tell the assistant to look up answers to questions, send messages and more. (The Assistant is particularly savvy at making restaurant reservations.)
Google Assistant isn't the only digital helper with its own widget. The iOS version of Cortana has one, too. As with Google Assistant, the Cortana widget merely acts as a shortcut to the app itself. But you can also add reminders to yourself from the Cortana widget on the Today screen. Now, it's just a matter of determining which digital assistant on iOS is the best one to use.
If you, like me, spend way too much of your time watching TV, you may get overwhelmed not only tracking your shows, but also remembering when they air. The $2.99 Television Time's widget gives you a handy look at which of the shows you watch are airing soon; a tap launches the app and brings you to a summary of the episode in question.
ESPN's mobile app includes news, highlights and even live streams of games airing on the self-proclaimed Sports Leader's many channels. But sometimes, you just want a quick score update. Add the ESPN widget to your today screen, and scores for the teams you've designated as your favorites will pop up without you ever having to fire up the ESPN app.
If you're not already using the free Authy app to manage your two-factor authentication, I'm not sure what you're waiting for. The app's widget makes it handy to quickly get to these security codes, and its ability to keep them hidden until you've unlocked your iOS device means that they won't get easily spotted by snoops.
It's already a great iOS app, but the $2.99 Fantastical 2's widget makes the calendaring app just that much more useful. It provides a full calendar of the current month, but lets you page through months to see what's coming up, or what happened in months gone by. Select any day from the widget to see what events you have scheduled; tapping any event takes you right to it in the full app.
Do Button by IFTTT
I like the IFTTT web service, which lets me string together automated tasks from a variety of other services, but I especially appreciate its free Do Button app, which allows me to assign those tasks to a single button. The widget gives you quick access to the buttons you've created, which makes it even easier to trigger a specific job.
Keep one eye on the weather with widget from the $3.99 Dark Sky app for iOS. It gives you the current temperature and conditions, the forecast for the next hour, high and low temperatures for the day, and the chance of precipitation. At a tap, you get a detailed look at the precipitation forecast, as well as the outlook for the next five days.
Like Dark Sky, the free Weather Underground offers a widget that shows current temperature, along with highs and lows and current conditions; you can also toggle between a visual forecast for the next six hours or a graph that forecasts temperatures for the next 24 hours. A second widget offers a radar view of your location, so you can see if storm clouds are forming.
This venerable $9.99 calculator app hasn't been taking it easy: in iOS 10, you can do many math operations right from PCalc's widget, including copying and pasting your results. It has a compact and expanded view, and can mirror the settings of the iOS app, right down to syncing any current values.
Just like the widget for iOS 10's built-in Calendar app — which alerts you to upcoming appointments — OpenTable's widget gives you an at-a-glance look at any dinner plans you've booked through the free app. Tapping a reservation takes you to that event in the OpenTable app where you can modify things or cancel the reservation altogether.
Apple's built-in iOS apps have also gotten into the widget act, and one of the most useful is for Podcasts. Apple added this widget with the iOS 10.3 update. It lists unplayed episodes of your podcasts on the Today screen. Tap an episode and you can play it, saving you the trouble of having to launch the app just to start an episode. To pause the episode, you will have to either go into the app or access playback controls from iOS 10's Control Center, though.
The productivity app gets a little random with its widget, serving up a suggested note when you head over to the Today screen. You can expand the widget to show three notes. More useful are the shortcuts on the Evernote widget that let you jump to frequently used tasks like composing a note, taking a picture or setting a reminder.
Sometimes one widget just isn't enough. The free Citymapper offers three separate widgets, depending on your needs: a list of departures for nearby bus, train, and other transportation stops; a list of departures for stops that you've saved; and a Go widget that lets you quickly bring up directions to a specific location that you've stored.
Some app makers treat their widgets as launchers. That's the case with Shazam, with a widget offering direct links to its search features. But that's ideal — when you're trying to quickly identify a song, you don't want to fumble around your home screen searching for the right app to open. Just press the the Shazam button in its widget and Shazam will launch right into its search. (If your iPhone isn't unlocked, you will have to punch your security code or unlock it with a fingerprint.)
The thrill of waiting for packages can quickly give way to irritation: When is that gadget I ordered going to get here? Fortunately, the $4.99 Deliveries app can track items from UPS, USPS, FedEx, and more, displaying them all in its handy widget for your perusal. Tap any of them to fire up the app and get a detailed look at where your package is.
Want to quickly find that file you recently added to Dropbox? The widget cloud storage service's free app lists your four most recent uploads. Tap on any one of them to jump straight to it in the Dropbox app.
I like to get my steps in every day, so it's handy to be able to quickly glance at my phone and figure out how I'm doing so far. The free Pedometer++, my step tracker of choice, offers a simple widget that gives you your current step count — color-coded to let you know how you're doing — as well as your distance in miles walked and floors climbed.
For keeping track of flight statuses (whether they're yours or someone else's), you can't beat the $4.99 FlightTrack's handy widget. It provides all the information you need in one handy place, including flight numbers, arrival and departure times, and even gates and bag checks where available. Color coding lets you know at a glance whether the planes are on time or delayed.
Back in iOS 9, Apple introduced a proactive assistant that aimed to suggest points of interest in your vicinity. The iOS 10 widget for the free TripAdvisor app stays true to those roots, recommending restaurants, bars and attractions near you based on user ratings. You can tap any of those suggestions to get more details from the app.
Launch Center Pro
Sometimes you just want to launch an application without even having to root through the home screen. Or maybe there's a specific action you do a lot, like scanning a barcode for Amazon. The $4.99 Launch Center Pro puts shortcuts to apps and actions at your fingertips in its widget for iOS 10; set up those frequently used apps and actions in the iOS app, and you can choose which ones you want to be able to activate from the widget.
You've got a choice of widgets with IMDB. The Born Today widget does what it says on the label, serving up a trio of images of stars celebrating a birthday. (Tapping the image takes you to their page in the free IMDB app.) Of greater interest may be the Latest Trailers widget, which showcases three trailers for upcoming movies.
If you've ever wanted more details about the heavens above you, grab the $3 Star Walk app and add its widget to your Today screen. You'll not only get the times for sunrise and sunset along with the current phase of the moon, Star Walk's widget lists a calendar of upcoming celestial events to maximize your star-gazing.