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How to Use Widgets on iOS 14: The Ultimate Guide to Widgets on Your iPhone & iPad Home Screens

Today, Apple is rolling out iOS 14 to all compatible iPhones and iPads across the globe. This is a major update to the underlying software that powers all the iOS devices out there, and introduces some notable and incredible features to these devices. With iOS 14, Apple has made one of the biggest fundamental changes to the Home Screen on iOS devices by introducing a completely revamped Widgets functionality. In this article, you’ll learn about everything you need to know about iOS 14 widgets.

Now, widgets aren’t making their world debut on iOS 14 — they’ve been around since the time of iOS 8, but in a very limited form. Not only did they look bland and boring, but they were also limited to the “Today” view that was largely hidden until you swiped left to right to the leftmost screen.

On iOS 14, Apple has completely overhauled widgets by making them a lot more interesting and useful. For starters, you can now pin widgets directly on the home screen, just like on Android devices. They can live pinned right next to your app icons, or be on a dedicated space of their own. Widgets on iOS are also a lot more beautiful and vibrant compared to their previous iterations and the whole experience of enabling and setting up widgets on iOS 14 is a lot more interactive and delightful. First, let’s see how to set up and customize widgets on iPhones running iOS 14.

How to Add iOS 14 Widgets on iPhone Home Screen?

  1. Tap and hold down on any blank area on your iPhone home screen until all the apps start wiggling, i.e. jiggle mode. Alternatively, you can tap and hold on any app icon and then choose the Edit Home Screen option to customize the iPhone home screen.
  2. Tap on the little + button at the top corner.

  1. You will see all the available apps that currently offer widgets. You'll have to launch an app at least once before the widgets show up in this list.

  1. Tap on the app you want to add the widget for, then swipe left/right to choose the size of the widget you want to add.
  2. Tap on the Add Widget button at the bottom. Here are some widgets available in Readdle’s Documents app.

[iOS 14 Widgets offered by Documents app]

  1. Once the widget flies onto your home screen, tap and hold on the widget to move it to where you want.
  2. Tap Done when you’re done adding all the widgets.

Here's a quick video that demostrates the points above.

If you have an iPad running iPadOS 14, you have a wide range of widgets available to use. However, there’s a small limitation imposed by Apple on the iPads. Let’s see how to use widgets on iPads running iPadOS 14.

How to Add iOS 14 Widgets on iPad?

All of Apple’s iPad devices run a slightly different version of iOS which Apple calls iPadOS. Although the features of iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 are largely the same, there’s a notable difference in how the home screen behaves and how widgets can be used on iPads.

First, iPadOS 14 does not support the ability to pin widgets anywhere on the home screen. This means that you cannot add widgets next to app icons on home screens even on devices like the iPad Air or iPad Pro. That’s right, iOS 14 widgets are limited to the Today View on iPads. This is a surprisingly odd omission from Apple considering the ample screen real estate that exists on the iPad and how powerful the devices are. The iPads also don’t support the new App Library feature that iOS 14 brings to the iPhones.

With that in mind, here’s how you can add iOS 14 widgets to your iPad. For this example, we’re using the amazing Spark Email app and it’s large collection of beautifully designed iOS 14 widgets. With iOS 14, you’ll also be able to set Spark as the default email app on iOS very soon.

Download Spark Email app for Free and get started →

  1. Swipe left to right on the iPad home screen to reveal the Today View.

  1. Tap and hold on an empty area to enter the jiggle mode, i.e. till all the apps start wiggling.

  1. If you have any existing widgets in your Today view, you can enable the Keep On Home Screen toggle at the top.
  2. If there are no existing widgets, tap the little + button at the top left corner of the screen.
  3. Choose the first app whose widget(s) you want to add to your iPad.

  1. Select the size of the widget, then tap the Add Widget button. Spark offers a few different widget options in all three sizes for you to choose from, in both Light and Dark modes.

[iOS 14 Widgets offered by Spark]

  1. Drag and drop the widget on the square to keep the widget on the home screen.

  1. Repeat the steps to add more widgets.
  2. Tap the Done button when you’re done adding all widgets.

Here's how that looks on the iPad:

What is the Smart Stack Widget on iOS 14?

iOS 14 gives you the ability to stack widgets of the same size on top of each other. Once stacked, you can swipe up or down to switch between the widgets as you need. This saves space on your home screen and avoids clutter. To create a stack of widgets on iOS 14, simply drag and drop a same-sized widget on top of an existing one.

There is a special kind of widget available on iOS 14 which is called Smart Stack. As the name suggests, this is a stack of multiple widgets that iOS 14 smartly rotates throughout the day. According to Apple, the Smart Stack uses on-device intelligence to show you the right widget at the right time based on various factors such as time of the day, your location, and activity. For example, your iPhone will show you the News widget in the morning, then the Calendar widget with all your events through the day and then the Maps widget as you commute back home in the evening. You can customize the Smart Stack with your own selection of apps and also change the order of widgets.

To add the Smart Stack widget to your iPhone on iOS 14, follow these steps:

  1. Tap and hold on an empty area of the Home Screen and enter the Edit Home Screen mode (jiggle mode).
  2. Tap the + button at the top left corner of the screen.
  3. Select the Smart Stack widget from the list of available widgets and add it to your Home Screen.
  4. Select the widgets you want to add to the Smart Stack instead of the default ones.
  5. Tap Done.

How to Customize Widgets on iOS 14?

Widgets on iOS 14 have the ability to be customized to some extent. App developers can offer customizable iOS 14 widgets that can display different kinds of data depending on the option chosen by the user. For example, Spark Mail app for iOS 14 gives you the ability to customize the Message Category (People, News, Notifications, or Inbox) and lets you choose which email account should show up in the widget with the help of the Use Unified Inbox toggle.

There’s a couple of ways in which you can customize a widget on iOS 14:

Option 1: Tap and hold onto the Widget and then select the Edit Widget option
Option 2: Enter the Edit Home Screen mode (jiggle mode) and tap on the widget to customize it. This method is better if you want to edit two or more widgets.

How to Remove Widgets on iOS 14?

To delete an existing iOS 14 widget that you’ve added to your iPhone or iPad, follow these simple steps:

  1. Tap and hold on an empty area of the screen to enter the Edit Home Screen mode or jiggle mode.
  2. Tap on the little - button at the top left of the widget.
  3. Tap Remove on the confirmation message.

When will {Your Favorite App} Support iOS 14 Widgets? 

If your favorite iOS app doesn’t currently support iOS 14 widgets, don’t worry. Usually, Apple releases a “GM” or final build of iOS and Xcode to developers about a week or more before the public release, which gives app developers enough time to submit their apps for review and make them available on the App Store on Day 1. 

Unfortunately, Apple surprised everyone by announcing during its September 2020 event that iOS 14 would release to the public on September 16th, the very next day. This has caused a sudden rush of app developers submitting their apps to App Review, so it’ll be a while before they’re approved by Apple and made available for download on the App Store.

Readdle’s apps have already been updated with some incredible new features for iOS 14, including support for iOS 14 widgets. You can download them using the download links below:

Over the last few months, our teams have been working really hard to deliver these extensive set of iOS 14 features to you and they’re easily one of the best features we’ve ever shipped.

The iOS 14 widgets that we've shipped in our apps are remarkably rich in functionality and look stunning on the home screen. With this release, we think these are truly some of the best collections of widgets by apps on iOS 14 and we hope you like them.

As always, we’re eager to hear your feedback about our iOS 14 releases. Let us know what you think in the comments section below, or hit us up on Twitter @Readdle.

Preshit Deorukhkar Preshit Deorukhkar



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