How Apple Could Bring Widgets And Live Tiles To Your iOS 7 Homescreen [Video]

How Apple Could Bring Widgets And Live Tiles To Your iOS 7 Homescreen [Video]

One of iOS’s most limiting aspects is its icon-driven interface. iOS’s default interface, the homescreen, it simply a grid of equally sized icons, and while these icons are pretty, they all look pretty much the same. Worse, they are dumb: they can’t do anything cleverer than pin a badge to themselves to convey information.

Compare that to the way Android or Windows Phone handles the homescreen. In Android, you can pin intelligent widgets along with apps to the homescreen; in Windows Phone, the tiles operate not just as app icons, but as smart widgets that can convey to the user changes that are happening within the app, even when it’s not as open.

iOS users have been clammoring for Apple to figure out a way to make the iOS homescreen smarter for quite a long time, and this concept video describes one possible interpretation, which mixes up the iOS homescreen with Android’s widgets and Windows Phone’s Live Tiles.

How Apple Could Bring Widgets And Live Tiles To Your iOS 7 Homescreen [Video]

The video is by Max Rudberg, who explains:

In this concept, an app icon can be resized from 1×1 to 2×2 or 4×2. The increased size can house widget like functionality and provide easy access to core features of that particular app. For example, you could expand the Settings icon into a widget with a brightness slider, and quick toggles for WiFi, Bluetooth, Personal Hotspot and Do Not Disturb.

It’s a nice concept, but the thing that sticks out to me seeing it all in action is that Apple would never implement widgets like this. It’s just too messy; it introduces the chaos of an OS X desktop to the meticulous geometric order of iOS, in which everything is sandboxes and every single line means something.

Apple will likely eventually cave and introduce widgets in some capacity to iOS, but when they do, I imagine they will do so with a Dashboard-like implementation, in which widgets exist not on the homescreen but within their own little sandbox. What do you think?

  • Senturion

    Although I would like to see some implementation of a more informative homescreen, the way Android does it looks messy and haphazard.

    I better implementation is something like Windows Phone 8 where the information tiles have a common look and feel and are part of a structured grid.

    My guess is that is the direction Jony Ives will take, clean lines, common UI, no distractions.

  • gettysburg11s

    This article is incorrect in a few ways. First, the only people who find iOS’s icon driven interface limiting are the ones who don’t like it. Second, iOS users worldwide love that its not like Android, with its battery sucking widgets. Only bloggers and techies are clamoring for widgets. I don’t want my iPhone to look or act like Android. If I did, I’d buy an Android phone!

  • FriarNurgle

    Meh. I’d rather they just expand the notification screen functionality

  • Th3_1d

    This article is incorrect in a few ways. First, the only people who find iOS’s icon driven interface limiting are the ones who don’t like it. Second, iOS users worldwide love that its not like Android, with its battery sucking widgets. Only bloggers and techies are clamoring for widgets. I don’t want my iPhone to look or act like Android. If I did, I’d buy an Android phone!

    Ya, because giving people the option would be just terrible. The uses doesn’t know what he/she wants, you do right?

  • Paul Lloyd Johnson

    I’ve suggested this way to implement widgets to a few friends and they’ve all been pretty positive about it. It’s nice to see that I’m not the only person who thinks that this would work.

  • volodoscope

    This is just like Windows Phone tiles. I don’t think Apple wants so much clutter on home screen. I still like the idea of dashboard to the left swipe. It was shown before and I think it connects to OS X and would make sense.

  • B066Y

    I think widgets would be great on iOS (the current user interface is starting to look old and outdated in my opinion)…I don’t like the idea of a “Dashboard-like implementation,” to me that defeats the purpose of having widgets. If I have to swipe to another screen to get to the widget I might as well open the app.

  • Whodakat
    This article is incorrect in a few ways. First, the only people who find iOS’s icon driven interface limiting are the ones who don’t like it. Second, iOS users worldwide love that its not like Android, with its battery sucking widgets. Only bloggers and techies are clamoring for widgets. I don’t want my iPhone to look or act like Android. If I did, I’d buy an Android phone!

    Ya, because giving people the option would be just terrible. The uses doesn’t know what he/she wants, you do right?

    People want battery life! And Apple wants every iPhone user to have a similar experience. Having some phones that last 10 hours and some that last 5 is unacceptable. As un-american as this seems, some times you can have too many options!

  • Whodakat

    Widgets… who cares? I would like my weather app to display the current temperature, but thats about all I can think of. I mean how hard is it to open an app? I think the iOS home screen is perfect. App icons are uniform in size, and there is no wasted space. Compare that to an Android home screen. Tiny little icons of varying shapes and sizes with about a hundred miles in between each one. Lack of uniformity is off putting and the wasted space is absurd. The Android home screen might be the thing I hate the most about droids. Throw in widgets and you have even more lack of uniformity. I suppose if you had to have widgets, the dashboard idea is the best but the notification screen is basically the same thing, so adding the functionality there seems easiest.

    Curious, what “widgets” do people run? Maybe I just lack imagination but I can’t see what actual use they may have.

  • buckustoothnail

    I think it’s time Apple admits the losing battle it’s in with IOS and waves the white flag. If they continue on this path, IOS 7 will be their version of Symbian, Nokia’s homegrown smartphone OS that cost billions to develop and was shelved after just one generation, being replaced with Windows Phone.

    Apple should know that they are falling further and further behind the competition and the billions they are spending on patent trolling and the tens of millions they are spending on R&D is not slowing down the competition one bit nor is it keeping Apple in step with them.

    No, what Apple should do is to cut all their losses and halt the IOS program, and fully adopt the far superior and technologically advanced Android OS.

    There’s no point just offering substandard imitations of Android features like widgets, and Google services like Google Maps. How much public humiliation in these failures can Apple take before it realizes the obvious? Siri was just completely pawned by the Google app with Voice and it’s only going to get worse if Apple continues down this foolish path.

    By dropping IOS altogether and embracing the superior Android system, Apple will save MILLIONS in further R&D costs as well as BILLIONS in legal fees as it will put an end to their doomed patent trolling lawsuits around the world.

    Those savings in R&D and legal fees will drive up Apple profits. Remember, the Android license is FREE. Apple will no longer need to pay for the costs for developing and maintaining their own mobile OS.

    “Well how will Apple differentiate themselves from other Android smartphone makers then?” you ask.

    Simple, by continuing to do what it has always done, which is to offer convincing hardware backed by even more convincing marketing.

    Where else but Apple can you get a phone with cool looking brushed aluminium friction stir welding? This is the type of marketing that sells iPhones, NOT IOS.

  • B066Y
    This article is incorrect in a few ways. First, the only people who find iOS’s icon driven interface limiting are the ones who don’t like it. Second, iOS users worldwide love that its not like Android, with its battery sucking widgets. Only bloggers and techies are clamoring for widgets. I don’t want my iPhone to look or act like Android. If I did, I’d buy an Android phone!

    Ya, because giving people the option would be just terrible. The uses doesn’t know what he/she wants, you do right?

    People want battery life! And Apple wants every iPhone user to have a similar experience. Having some phones that last 10 hours and some that last 5 is unacceptable. As un-american as this seems, some times you can have too many options!

    This is making the assumption that users are too stupid to understand the device they are using. Believe it or not there are power users out there who don’t want to go through the hassle of jailbreaking their device to get the features that they want and Apple is ignore these people with iOS. Also there is no such thing as too many options.

  • B066Y

    Curious, what “widgets” do people run? Maybe I just lack imagination but I can’t see what actual use they may have.

    On my Android phone I use the Evernote widget to open straight to creating a voice or text note…I use the calendar widget to display my daily agenda…and I use the Facebook, twitter and Google+ widget…I also have weather displayed on the notification pull down and lock screen. On a side note, my battery still lasts the whole work day on a single charge.

  • JohnWilson

    Nah, that looks like a waste of time to me.

  • CharilaosMulder

    Over 90% of the people stating iOS is dated, refer to the lack of widgets on the homescreen. Some people are unable to see how their OS gets messy with the things they *think* the want or need. Sure, options are great! Except the ones that allow for a messy, inefficient or ugly workflow.

  • Westerley

    While I think widget would be awesome, I don’t find much of a need for them. They can add widgets to Notification Center but not the home screen. Idk…I’m very mixed in this topic.

  • rthomas

    Nice concept, but I wouldn’t want this on my phone. Goes against what it means to be a mobile device in my mind. Think about it – do you ever really need to look at a list of to-dos, multiple clocks and the current brightness level, at one time, as you’re walking down the street or getting in a cab? Humans can’t process all that information on-the-go all at once, so the result is a shrunken user experience for each one of those functions. A mobile device is about quick access – that’s why little icons work great. You see a recognizable image, tap to open, do your business, and then exit — file it away, out of mind. The notification center in iOS groups certain information together which easily lends itself to be dashboard-ized, if you will — but honestly I rarely use that thing. And, it’s not a top level screen. You have to swipe to get to it. Top-level widgets this like are akin to a cluttered work desk in my opinion, this is why the whole app economy has exploded in the first place. People want clean, polished, dedicated functions, quick to access and quick to put away. The attempt to put many immediately accessible things in one place is a backwards move for a mobile phone — more suited for a desktop or tablet. On a phone the result is clutter and worse overall experience. It’s like trying to eat dinner on a desk that has a keyboard on it, a bunch of papers and a drawing tablet. Doable, but not optimal.

  • Eurofag

    Sorry but this is ugly as sin

  • buckustoothnail

    People forget that IOS users are fairly simple-minded. Widgets would confuse them. What Apple excels at is understanding their target audience. Apple knows that their users can’t handle more than basic functionality. Give them an additional layer of control and you’ve lost them forever. Apple is doing it right. Icons must be a picture of what that app does, whether it’s a magazine shelf for Newsstand, open book for iBooks, map for Maps, calendar for Calendar, envelope for Mail, and before they got rid of it, a TV for YouTube. Anything more or less and the IOS user simply won’t get it.

  • Morituri Max

    Can Samsung sue them for that? After all, if you start putting live stuff on the homescreen I might get confused and think the iphone is actually a samsung device.

    8 )

  • Shane Bryson

    Can Samsung sue them for that? After all, if you start putting live stuff on the homescreen I might get confused and think the iphone is actually a samsung device.

    8 )

    Nope, considering that widgets existed first in OSX, I would say Apple could sue Google for Androids widget functionality. Samsung really has nothing to do with widgets.

  • Shane Bryson

    Sorry but this is ugly as sin

    You’re stupid, right?

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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