How to use widgets on iOS 8

Widgets are one of the many attractive new features of iOS 8; perhaps one of the most attractive.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Android users have long used widgets as a talking point when boasting about their preferred mobile operating system. And until iOS 8, Android users had a point. Widgets can be a convenient, if not powerful, feature of an app.

Instead of implementing widgets on the home screen, Apple opted to place widgets in Notification Center under the "Today" tab. Doing so keeps widgets out of the way, free from cluttering your home screen, yet makes them available with a quick gesture.

After installing an update or app with Today integration, you'll need to activate the widget.

  • Swipe down from the top of your screen to display Notification Center and select the Today tab.
  • Scroll to the bottom of the panel and tap on Edit.
Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Here you will find a list of both currently active widgets, along with inactive widgets available from apps you have installed on your device. As you would imagine, tapping the green circle will enable a widget. (Conversely, tapping on the red circle will remove a widget from the Today panel.)

Widgets that are capable of being moved will have the three-line icon to the right of its name, which allows you to drag and drop it into position.

Widgets such as the one provided by the VICE News app displays information at a quick glance. Tapping on any of the entries will launch the app to the respective story. Other widgets such as the one found in PCalc places a full calculator directly into Notification Center. Then there's the likes of UpWord Notepad, which lets you manage your task list without ever launching the app.

Notification Center, and by association widgets, are available from the lock screen, increasing the value of the widgets you decide to take advantage of.

As more apps are updated with iOS 8 compatibility, we are bound to see more innovative uses of widgets across the platform.

For more helpful iOS 8 tips, be sure to check out our complete guide to iOS 8.