How to put fake 'widgets' on your iOS home screen

Summary:iOS lacks the ability to display widgets on the home screen of the iPhone and iPad but creative developers have discovered a workaround. Here's how you do it.

A feature notably absent in iOS are widgets, or the ability to display snippets of live Internet data on the home screen. Widgets are available on most other mobile operating systems (notably Android) and they're quite useful for displaying live information at a glance on your home screen. 

Some of the most popular Android widgets display things like the current weather, upcoming appointments and recent email, messages, Tweets and Facebook activity. 

I was hoping that widgets would finally arrive in iOS 7, but Apple's stupidly snubbed them again and ceded more ground to Android in the process. It's beyond me how Apple could ignore a feature as useful and important as widgets, but I digress. (Ironically, Apple cheats a little by offering it's own pseudo-widgets, without exposing an API to third-party developers. It's built in Clock and Calendar apps are widgets in disguise because the icons display the current time and date in real time).

Back to the workaround. If you need more than just the time and date on your iPhone home screen, creative developers have found a workaround – courtesy of the badge app icon. The little red bubble is intended to display a count of unread messages, missed calls and the like, but developers are using it as the iOS-equivalent of a widget. 

Take a look at the screenshot below:

How to create fake 'widgets' in iOS - Jason O'Grady

The first row of icons shows Apple's Clock and Calendar apps (which update in real time). 

In the second row (which I keep on my iPhone home screen) I have apps that display the current temperature, the price of Bitcoin, Gold and Silver in their badge app icons. The four apps above are: 

  • Fahrenheit ($0.99, App Store) – Fahrenheit displays the temperature on your Home Screen icon, Notification Center and Lock Screen. (A Celsius version is also available.)
  • Bitcoin Live ($4.99, App Store) – See the exchange rate on the icon, without ever opening the app. The price updates every 60 seconds. No other app does this.
  • Fine Gold Price ($1.99, App Store) – Displays real-time Gold Price on the app icon badge, backed by a powerful push notification server. Also delivers user defined gold price alerts.
  • Silver Tracker ($1.99, App Store) – Displays real-time Silver Price on the app icon badge, backed by a powerful push notification server. Also delivers user defined silver price alerts.

What are some of your favorite "Bidgets?" 

Topics: Apple, iOS, iPad, iPhone

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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