Using widgets for iOS and Android, you can customise your phone’s home screen with the stuff that matters to you most. Widgets let you quickly open your favourite apps, send messages with a single tap and keep up to date with the day’s headlines.
We’ve put together a collection of free widgets that’ll help you upgrade your home screen, so read on for the details.
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What’s a widget?
Widgets are mini, downloadable apps that live right on your home screen. They’re slightly different from regular apps in that you can interact with them without having to open them in their own full-screen window.
On Android, tap and hold your finger in empty space on your home screen and then tap Widgets. From here, tap and hold on the widget you’d like to try out, and drag and drop it onto your screen.
For iOS devices running iOS 10, the dedicated widgets page can be found by swiping to the right from your lock screen or home screen. Here, you have access to widgets and the iOS search bar, which is handy if you’re quickly trying to track down an app or phone contact. Hitting Edit at the bottom of this page lets you re-order widgets and add new ones.
Popular widgets include live news feeds, customisable calendars, sports score updates, to-do lists and more. Keep on scrolling for a selection of our favourites.
The best free widgets on iOS
The launcher widget is an iOS exclusive, and you can use it to create shortcuts to things you use daily. Launcher can let you call a specific phone contact with a single tap, ‘get directions home’ right away or launch your favourite music playlist. It’s highly customisable, and a good way of ‘pinning’ phone commands in a spot that you can easily reach.
Ideal for sports fans, the ESPN widget can show you the latest scores without you needing to open your web browser. Of course, you can tell the widget which teams you’re interesting in following, and you’ll then have an easy way to keep up to date if you can’t catch a game on TV. The ESPN widget is also available on Android.
The Evernote widget for iOS lets you quickly jot down notes, and those notes can be accessed on other mobile devices and on desktop. Swiping over to your widgets screen lets you add a new note quickly, browse saved notes or take a picture to be uploaded to your account. If you’re regularly writing to-do lists, Evernote is worth trying out. It’s also available on Android.
Sometimes the simple widgets are the best. The free-to-download WhatsApp widget (also on Android) lets you set aside a spot for your favourite WhatsApp contacts on your Widgets page. This means you can swipe and tap a friendly face to launch right into a new text message – handy if you’re on the move and need to get things done quickly.
The best free widgets on Android
Month is a popular Android-only widget that lets you embed your calendar on your home screen. Tap a day of the week and Month will pull up your Google Calendar schedule to tell you what events you have coming up. If you don’t use Google Calendar, you can add events to the Month calendar itself. We think having your calendar on your home screen is really useful, so give it a try.
Google Keep for Android does exactly what you’d expect. You can use this free widget to ‘stick’ a note to your home screen, so you’ll see it every time you turn your device on. Notes are resizable, and if you’re looking for an alternative choice, Evernote offers a similar service.
Even the Play Store has its own widget. This Android offering will regularly suggest new downloads for you to take a closer look at. It bases its suggestions on apps you’ve previously downloaded through Google’s store, along with books, films and albums. If you don’t like a download suggestion, you can press Refresh to generate a new one.
If you work in London, this widget’s great for the morning commute. By downloading the Tube Map app, you can add a widget to your home screen that keeps an eye on the trains. You can manually adjust which underground lines are shown, and tapping refresh will show you the latest live updates.
There are literally thousands of widgets for iOS and Android devices for you to download and try for yourself. Which ones you end up picking will ultimately boil down to your own tastes and how you like to use your mobile.