While Apple’s iOS 8 still doesn’t support traditional widgets—not like Android—its Notification Center does offer up a convenient alternative. By default, stuff like your today summary, traffic conditions, tomorrow summary, calendar and Stocks will show up, turning the swipe down panel into a more information-rich overview of what’s going on. I can see what appointments are ahead, check the weather and see how long it’ll take me to get home without asking. It’s not quite Google Now, but it’s on its way.
What makes Notification Center more powerful is support for third-party widgets, which show up among the information mentioned above. I’ve been using SportsCenter since ESPN updated its app, and there are plenty more, like Dropbox, that make your experience more powerful than it was before. You probably have your favorite widgets already picked out, but in case you don’t quite have the setup you want, we have some suggestions that you may (or may not) have heard of.
Most of these apps are free, but there are few options that offer premium upgrades. We’d still like Apple to one day allow users to put widgets on the home screen but, for now, these will have to do.
Wdgts is a kind of multi-tool, providing widgets like calculator, currency converter, time zone, photo frame and more. The free version of the app provides more than enough, though there are some functions you can unlock if you choose the premium pack, which includes network monitor, battery and memory & disk. The company says more widgets will be added in the future, which will make it even more powerful than it is right now.
Apple’s stock Weather app is fine, but there are a ton of more powerful third-party options. What makes Weather Underground so handy is that it allows crowd reporting, promising to provide the “most accurate hyper-local weather forecasts.” In Notification Center, you’ll see weather information for your exact location, including precipitation, the highs and lows for the day and whether there are weather warnings in your area. It’s really powerful, and looks great, too.
With ESPN SportsCenter living in your Notification Center, you can easily track your favorite teams. The widget can only show two different scores at any given time, though it cycles through pretty swiftly. In addition to scores, the widget will show you what games are upcoming, along with a bit more information about the teams you follow, including current record and more.
In iOS 8, Apple introduced a feature that allows you to quickly access your favorite accounts in the multi-tasking view, but Quick-Tap steps it up a level by introducing app links and quick access to specific music tracks. If you want to quickly take a photo with Instagram, for example, you can add that in the App Links section, which you can easily access with just one tap. You can add all kinds of items, including directions, FaceTime calls with a specific person, and more.
Evernote is either the kind of service you use a lot or not at all. If you constantly need to jot down notes, the company’s widgets give you quick access to text, camera, photos, reminder and more. It’s a little quicker than jumping into the main app and then performing a certain action; the app is a no-brainer for any power Evernote users.
There are a ton of apps that support widgets in Apple’s Notification Center, and these are just a few of them.
You can check out video review by TechnoBuffalo of this all widgets.