Widgets have become an essential feature in iOS devices, as they give users quick access to their most important tasks. When you want to check the weather or your calendar, you don’t need to open an app, and instead, you can access the widget screen on your iPhone. For app developers, creating a widget can help them get more users and improve user experience. In this guide, we’ll teach you how to make an app a widget on iPhone and give you different methods to try out.
We want to write this guide because we think it’s essential for all app developers to know how to make widgets. Widgets can help their apps stand out, and they can also help give users a better experience. Plus, adding a widget is a relatively simple process that can have a big impact on the user experience. With that said, let’s get started with the guide.
Before you can make an app a widget on iPhone, there are a few things you’ll need:
- A Mac or MacBook
- Xcode installed on your Mac
- An iOS Dev Center account (if you want to distribute your widget outside of the App Store)
- The latest version of Xcode
- An iPhone running iOS 14 or later.
If you have all of these things ready, let’s move on to the next section to see what requires your focus.
What Requires Your Focus?
Creating a widget is relatively simple. However, it requires a lot of attention to detail, as there are specific guidelines for creating widgets. Here are some things that you must focus on:
- Widget design: The design of the widget is essential, and it should match the design of your app. You should ensure that the color scheme, fonts, and layout of the widget are consistent with your app.
- Widget size: There are three widget sizes, and you’ll need to design your widget for all three sizes. Each size has specific dimensions, and you should ensure that your widget fits within those dimensions.
- Data sources: You’ll need to decide what data sources your widget will use. Widgets can use APIs, data stored on the device, or other sources.
- Widget interactions: Widgets should be interactive, and you should consider what interactions you want to include in your widget.
- Widget performance: Widgets should be lightweight and not affect the performance of the device. You should ensure that your widget doesn’t use too much memory or processing power.
Now that you know what requires your focus let’s move on to different methods to make an app a widget on iPhone.
Different Methods to Make an App a Widget on iPhone
Method 1: Via App Extension
The first method to create a widget for your app is by creating an App Extension. App Extensions are mini applications that run within the context of the main app. They can interact with the main app and share data between the app and the extension. Here are the steps to create a widget using App Extension:
- Create a new Xcode project and select App Extension.
- Select Today Extension and then click Next.
- Choose a name for your extension and click Finish.
- Open the Main.storyboard file and create the widget’s user interface.
- Configure the Today Extension’s Info.plist file. You’ll need to specify the widget’s height, bundle ID, and other settings.
- In your app, create a shared container that your app and the Today Extension can use to exchange data.
- Instantiate a view controller for your widget, and then fetch the data from the app.
- Update the widget UI with the data you fetched.
- Build and run your app and test your widget on the home screen.
- App extensions are flexible and can be updated independently of the main app.
- Extensions can receive updates automatically when the app updates.
- Extensions can share data with your app, allowing you to create a more comprehensive widget experience.
- Extensions can only include static content, and you cannot create animations within extensions.
- Extensions cannot have direct access to all of the user’s data, and you’ll need to state what data the widget will collect.
- Extensions can only interact with the main app while the app is running.
Method 2: Using WidgetKit
WidgetKit is a new framework introduced in iOS 14. It provides developers with a way to create widgets without the need for App Extensions. WidgetKit handles all the widget-related logic and provides updates to the widget content. Here are the steps to create a widget using WidgetKit:
- Create a new Xcode project and select an App that you want to add a widget to, then click on next.
- Under the “Interface” option Select “Widget Extension” and click Next.
- Name your Widget, and select the bundle Identifier for your app, click Next.
- Select the template that meets your needs and design the interface for your Widget.
- In the Widget file, create an instance of the Widget Configuration type.
- Use the Widget Configuration to set the data source for your widget.
- Add a view to your widget that responds to the data source changes.
- Build and run your app and test your widget on the home screen.
- WidgetKit is easy to use, and you don’t need to write a lot of code to create a widget.
- WidgetKit provides an interface to handle updates and data sources, making it easier to manage widgets.
- WidgetKit provides greater flexibility in terms of design and interactions.
- WidgetKit is only available on iOS 14 or later.
- WidgetKit is tightly integrated with SwiftUI. You’ll need to learn SwiftUI to take full advantage of WidgetKit.
- WidgetKit does not support interactive widgets like App Extensions.
Method 3: Using Scriptable App
- Download the Scriptable app from the App Store.
- Use the Scriptable API to create views, fetch data, and update your widget.
- Configure the widget’s appearance and set its update interval.
- Add your script to the home screen as a widget.
- Scriptable is a straightforward and easy to use app. You don’t need to learn a new language to create a script.
- You can share your scripts with other Scriptable users, making it easy to distribute your widgets.
- Scriptable does not require Xcode or a paid developer account.
- Scriptable widgets are limited in terms of functionality. It cannot access all of the device’s features like other methods.
- Updates are less frequent with Scriptable widgets as the scripts are time-triggered but cannot be real-time triggered when provided with any specific input.
Why Can’t I Make an App a Widget on iPhone?
There are a few reasons why you might be having trouble making an app a widget on your iPhone. Here are some of the common issues and how you can fix them:
- Your app does not support widgets: Not all apps can have widgets, and developers need to build them into the app. If your app does not have a widget, you cannot make it a widget.
- Your app is not updated to the latest version: Widgets were introduced in iOS 14, and if your app is not updated to the latest version, you cannot create a widget.
- Your iPhone is not updated to the latest version: Widgets were introduced in iOS 14, and if your iPhone is not updated to the latest version, you cannot create a widget.
To fix these issues, you should ensure that your app and iPhone are updated to the latest version. If the app doesn’t support widgets, then you’ll need to reach out to the developer and suggest that they add this feature to their app.
Implications and Recommendations
Creating a widget for your app can have a significant impact on the user experience. Widgets can make your app stand out, and they can provide users with quick access to their most important tasks. Here are some implications and recommendations to consider:
- Think about what data sources to use: Widgets are all about providing quick access to essential tasks. You should think about what data sources your widget will use and what data is essential to your users.
- Think about widget design and interactions: Widgets should match the design of your app and provide users with a seamless experience. Think about what interactions are essential for your users, and design your widget accordingly.
- Test your widget thoroughly: Widgets should be lightweight and not affect the performance of the device. Ensure that your widget doesn’t use too much memory or processing power by testing it on different devices.
5 FAQs about Making an App a Widget on iPhone
Q1: Can all apps have widgets?
A: No, not all apps can have widgets. Developers need to build widgets into their apps, and if the app does not have a widget, you cannot create one for it.
Q2: Do I need a paid developer account to create a widget?
A: No, you don’t need a paid developer account to create a widget. However, if you want to distribute your widget outside of the App Store, you’ll need an iOS Dev Center account.
Q3: Do I need to learn a new language to create a widget?
A: No, you don’t need to learn a new language to create a widget. There are different methods to create a widget, and some require more programming knowledge than others.
Q4: Can widgets have animations?
A: App Extensions cannot have animations, but WidgetKit provides greater flexibility for animations and interactions.
Q5: How do I test my widget?
A: To test your widget, you’ll need to build and run your app and test your widget on the home screen. You should also test your widget on different devices and ensure that it doesn’t affect the performance of the device.
Creating a widget for your app can have a significant impact on the user experience. By following this guide, you should have a better understanding of how to make an app a widget on iPhone and different methods to try out. You should also consider what data sources to use, widget design, and interactions and test your widget thoroughly. Widgets can make your apps stand out and provide users with a more streamlined experience.