The Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), scheduled for June 5, has caused the Apple rumor mill to go into overdrive. The long-rumored Apple mixed reality headset will undoubtedly be the headline-grabbing announcement, but we also anticipate the release of the following software updates: iOS/iPadOS 17, watchOS 10, and macOS 14.
Initially declaring that iOS 17 would be a “silent” update, Mark Gurman of Bloomberg later changed his mind and indicated it would include a number of widely sought features from consumers over the years. According to reports this week, iOS 17 will enhance features including Control Center, Dynamic Island, and Search. It may even bring us interactive widgets, according to recent rumors.
Yes — interactive widgets. Finally.
iOS 17 could finally make widgets useful
When Apple released iOS 14, the option to utilize custom app icons using Shortcuts and add widgets to the home screen without having to jailbreak was one of the primary selling points.
However, these widgets were ultimately disappointing, as they appear basically just in a read-only state. Tapping on them only launches the app, essentially making these “widgets” nothing more than large, glorified app icons.
While the read-only state is good if you just want to get bits of data at a quick glance on the home screen, sometimes you want to be able to do more. For example, I would love to be able to check things off my to-do list or get Reminders without having to go into the app. Or even quickly add text to a note that I use as a scratchpad.
The “Today” view, which you can get by swiping all the way to the left, past your first home screen page, is where Apple really had interactive widgets in the past. In my Today view, for instance, I still have the PCalc widget, which enables me to perform rapid calculations without having to open the app. Although it doesn’t make sense, all home screen widgets are noninteractive, hence this widget must stay in the Today view.
Because you could expand and interact with widgets as necessary while still getting glanceable information, Apple’s Today view widgets were great. I was surprised when Apple disabled this feature for home screen widgets. Interacting widgets were certainly feasible, just not for the home screen. But why, exactly?
It’s time for iOS to catch up to Android
Interactive widgets have been a feature of Android devices’ home screens for a while. I’ve been using Android smartphones more recently, and I adore how widgets function there. This just goes to demonstrate how far behind Apple is in many areas.
On my Samsung Galaxy S23, for instance, I’ve played around with widgets and appreciate that I can add reminders to the home screen and check them off from the widget without opening the app. I appreciate that widgets are scrollable if there is a big list because I can even create a new email from the Spark widget. If/when Apple makes widgets interactive in iOS 17, all of this is material that it must include.
In addition, how wonderful would it be if the Music widget allowed you to manage the playback of your music rather than merely displaying your most recently listened-to albums? Moreover, I am only able to view a list of my notes without being able to edit or add to their contents without opening the program. What’s the point, really?
This sounds like the update I’ve been waiting for
I sincerely hope that iOS 17 does indeed include interactive widgets because it sorely needs the added functionality. Now, they essentially consist of enormous program icons that can be larger than square.
I only hope it’s not limited to interactive widgets. Control Center supposedly will undergo adjustments as well, and I hope that some enhancements will be done. Better search, bringing the Siri interface into the Dynamic Island on supported models, and even having the Dynamic Island do more are some other rumors concerning iOS 17.
With the exception of Apollo, which is more of a cutesy aesthetic thing than anything genuinely useful, none of the applications I usually use make advantage of the Dynamic Island, which I adored when it was first unveiled last year. Because all iPhone 15 models should be receiving it, I sincerely hope the rumor that Apple plans to “do more” with the Dynamic Island is accurate. At the moment, the charm, at least for me, has been lost.
With iOS 17, if Apple can provide all of that in addition to dynamic home screen widgets, we could be in for a real treat.