Without a doubt, one of the biggest differences between iOS and Android is how they handle information. Google decided to allow widgets on the phone’s home screen so that, in theory, users have the information they need at their fingertips and directly. Apple, on the other hand, has been using the same iOS interface that we all know for many years, with application icons and no widgets.
Are widgets really necessary in an operating system?
Over the years, there have been many arguments in the technology community about the best way forward. Android users will repeatedly point to widgets as one of the main reasons for preferring their phones to the iPhone and even Windows Phone. Halfway between iOS and Android, the Windows Phone provides information from the phone’s Home screen, but not exactly as Android widgets do. Then there are the radicals who don’t like this form either and think it’s either widgets or nothing. It’s not that either.
iOS users can have widgets just like Android users without having to leave the iPhone they love. But the question is, should they? Even if Apple officially allowed it, I think fewer people than we think would put them on their iPhones. Of course, the way to do that these days is through Jailbreak. If you are willing to do some digging on your iOS device and you haven’t updated to iOS 6.1.3, you can install Dashboard X and install several widgets at the same time. Using this method, any Notification Center widget can be moved to the Home screen. It may not be exactly the same as on Android, but it’s a start.
But this is when we ask ourselves: why bother?
To answer this question, we can comment on the experience of an iDownloadblog author. He tells us that in the last twelve months he has owned five different high-end smartphones. These smartphones have been the iPhone 4S, the HTC Note, the Samsung Galaxy Note, the Samsung Galaxy S III and, finally, the iPhone 5 that he currently uses. There are many phones and some of them, the Android, have the possibility of installing widgets on the main screen. This user comments that if widgets are to be used, the best one he has had is the Note, thanks to its bigger screen.
Even if he was able to install the widgets, he didn’t. For example, the quick access to Evernote sounded like a great idea to him. Being able to create new notes directly from the main screen seemed like a real blessing. But it never did.
Having the live Twitter feed at a glance should mean that it would not be necessary to launch the app to keep up to date, but it really didn’t.
Facebook updates directly on the home screen? Yeah, that should have been great. But it wasn’t. In fact, after switching between different phones, this user would first remove all the widgets and create several folders with the most used applications. Other than that, he put in a nice wallpaper and that was it, that’s it. In the end he realized that he was using a big iPhone but without some of his favorite applications.
All of this was the reason why this fellow returned to the iPhone. He also tells us that he has been testing the Dashboard X that we mentioned before, thinking once again that having some widgets on the main screen would be a good idea. Having access to enable or disable connections and seeing the amount of space available on the main screen seemed impressive, but then he realized that he was barely using the information provided by the widgets and that he was consuming more battery power for nothing.
It is clear that each user will have their own experience and will know whether or not they like having widgets on their home screen. I must say that I was also coming from Android and the same thing happened to me as to the partner in the example, I ended up removing almost all the widgets and the rest relegating them to different desktops that I almost never consulted.
These experiences lead us to ask ourselves, would you really like the iPhone to have widgets? Sooner or later we’ll know if widgets are one of the things Jony Ive has incorporated into iOS 7.
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