Apple was right, widgets just ain’t cool

“Without a doubt, one of the biggest differences between iOS and Android is its fundamental handling of information,” Oliver Haslam writes for iDownloadBlog. “Google decided to allow widgets onto a phone’s Home screen so that, theoretically, users would have the information they need right at their fingertips. Apple, on the other hand, has doggedly stuck to its guns over the years, with iOS remaining a collection of app icons rather than live widgets.”

“But iOS users can have their cake and eat it. They can have widgets on their home screens just like Android users, whilst still having that iPhone they so love,” Haslam writes. “I am, of course, talking about jailbreaking. If you’re willing to hack your iOS device, then you’re able to install Dashboard X and in turn, install various widgets.”

Haslam asks, “But here’s the rub: why would you bother?”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Jeff C.” for the heads up.]

39 Comments

  1. I read the original article and I couldn’t agree with him more.
    Widgets might look cool in an ad, but i wouldn’t use it. The first thing I want to see when I flick my iPhone screen on is the apps on my home screen. I don’t want my home app screen to be something I have to filter down to.

    1. Agreed.

      What is so beautiful about iOS is that it is truthfully simple.
      On the root level Apple allows us to make folders and arrange the app icons to a sweet and true customization – clear and straightforward. Nothing gets in the way of the intuitiveness yet still provides a level of freedom.

      On the other hand, my first observation with Android was their home screen. It’s a page directory with a few shortcuts to some apps – which honestly is not the true nor main locations. Android users must dig one level down to find other apps. Then they can arrange with a add or remove to the home directory. This is so, unproductive and redundant. Its as if, Android purposely mimicked iOS, however, suspiciously complicates for it’s user – knowing it could not totally steal Apples method.

      Resulting in Android, is this false sense of customization which is completely useless at bettering user experiences — for what — to merely house widgets?

      Uncool is Androids useless Eye Candy – it betters nothing for it’s user.

      Next is Androids decision to run true multi-tasking – it’s a mess. It’s irresponsible for mobile computing users to need to kill tasks and worry about memory leakage and crashing apps. It ignores the challenges engineers faced on these tiny devices. Android forces us to think of the old ways of desktop computing – how dare they.

      Brilliantly, Apple foresaw the issues for battery life and cleverly understood just how users would rather manage running apps and avoid managing manually the tasks in process that hindered us from the past. There are no more worries. And on occasion – a rare — re-boot typically solves most issues. iOS couldn’t be simpler – can it?

  2. I’ve had widgets on my Macs since circa 2005 (Tiger) and almost never use Dashboard. I occasionally use the dictionary, I guess, but if it * poof * went away tomorrow my life would go on.

    So I imagine if I had an Android phone (oooh, threw up in my mouth a little just then) I would probably not leverage them much.

      1. I love my OSX Widgets, I use them all the time, esp. Radar in Motion. Having Widgets was brilliant and useful for the computers anyway. I agree I wouldn’t want them on the iOS.

    1. @midwestmac
      I have, and use, Apple’s Dictionary app that I put in my doc.

      @MacRaven
      I know there are some people that love widgets on there, that’s cool. I wish I did used them more, looks like fun, but they just don’t get used by me. Most people I know don’t even know they are there.

    1. Android is mainly eye candy for me – useless inefficient redundant and old school – traps in programming that are irresponsible for modern mobile users.

  3. I don’t think widgets are a bad idea, but the implementation must be done right. They are essentially a different class of apps; mini-apps, if you will. I use Dashboard on OS X all the time to quickly access utility apps. I don’t need or want full-blown applications.

  4. Widgets are just a waste of space and battery, jerkOS. Notifications is the clean answer…. I love folders organization and the uniform rounded icons. Android is a mess, Tiles are stupid. Go Apple.

  5. Widgets are just a waste of space and battery, jerkOS. Notifications is the clean answer…. I love folders organization and the uniform rounded icons. Android is a mess, Tiles are stupid. Go Apple…

    1. “Don’t mess with success. I just want a bigger iPhone”

      The two statements contradict each other. If a bigger iPhone makes it better, even just for yourself, even if you’re 100% happy with the software itself… you can’t claim you’re 100% happy with the iPhone the way it is now.

      Apple has also historically not hesitated to “mess with success”, e.g. by killing the iPod mini line in favour of the nano… not to mention the various changes to the iPods over the years, some of them bad.

      Palm and Blackberry also didn’t feel the need to “mess with success”, and Apple ate them for lunch.

      1. No. No they don’t conflict. And they don’t contradict. “Don’t mess with success” reflects my opinion of IOS by Apple. “I just want a bigger iPhone” should be self-explanatory. Why are you so defensive? You don’t design or build iPhones. You’re not responsible for marketing iPhones. Nor am I. I am simply a user and consumer of Apple products. Stating my own opinion on one of their products. Why would you defend a company? You’re not defending your sister’s reputation. Become defensive when it’s appropriate. By the way, it’s not nice to tell people what they mean when they express an opinion. Someone else might have grabbed you by the shirt collar and bitch slapped you up and down Sunset Boulevard for about an hour in front of everybody.

        1. Mine was a *defense* of Apple? It’s the exact opposite, warning that they shouldn’t get complacent.

          I unloaded a bit because I’m tired of seeing actual “defenses” by fanbois saying or implying the iPhone hardware and software are essentially perfect and Android has no ideas worth a damn. Half the comments right before yours read exactly like that, so I jumped on the contradictory-sounding phrasing.

          BTW, I didn’t attack you personally in any way, just your words. Happens all the time all around the world. In no way does that deserve anything more than a heated response. Those “someone elses” who see any other opinions as a personal attack, and would escalate such minor slights to such ridiculously out-of-proportion extremes, sound like insecure roid-ragers or closet partner abusers.

          1. No, you criticized my comments as though they were contradictory. As I said, they are not. You could be right though, that “someone else” could be a Roid Ranger? Or Roy Rogers? Or the Lone Ranger?

        2. I would love to see – iPad mini with retina and telephone services as on iPhone. (expanded cellular)*

          This would be the one device and only device I would take with me daily – for going outdoors and doing every day business and serious fun. A phone-tablet. iPad mini is the most appropriate size.

          For, iPad is much too large for traveling (more suitable for the couch or portable anywhere in the house) – AND – iPhone doesn’t have the real-estate space to honestly handle the beautiful and powerful Apple Apps. (such as, keynote – pages – garageband).

          iPad mini/phone:
          THEN becomes the largest cellphone on the market — winning Apple yet another FIRST and proving Samsung missed the boat with its Note & Note2.

          Seems pretty straightforward and likely to happen – No?

  6. Well, in a significant way the ‘widgets’ in OS X became the ‘apps’ for iOS. But that’s just a conflict in terminology. Apple does allow various apps to be open at the same time, but iOS has some nifty memory management where mainly the current app you are using gets the RAM and CPU. It’s multitasking with a strong emphasis on one app at a time, with a few exceptions.

    That’s fine with me! I get decent battery life and all the functionality I require at any one time.

  7. A very subjective article, all about the author. More relevant is HTC’s research about 2 months ago, which found that, apart from a clock and weather widget, only 10% of Android users bother with widgets at all. Which, not so amazingly, is about the same percentage as iPhone users that jailbreak …

  8. This article fails because it’s one user’s usage of one widget solution.

    Dashboard X is fairly popular in the jailbreak community, so apparently other user’s usage is much more aligned with it. In other words, you’re reading *1* bad review, wherein there are thousands who would give it a glowing review.

    I don’t use Dashboard X, but I do use SBSettings. I also have some tweaks to Notification Center that make it more widget-like. There’s also Batter Doctor Pro and a bunch of other widget enablers that are quite popular.

    Therein lies the true rub…

    Apple could (and probably will) allow a widget solution that:
    1) is optional (don’t use if you don’t like)
    2) is customizable

    All of the jailbreak solutions though lack what Apple could provide in a widget solution, and that is system-wide 3rd party support. In other words, jailbreak solutions can only go so far, but Apple has the ability to truly do it right.

    And I’m not talking about doing it like Android, I’m talking about doing it the Apple way. Simple, easy, and functional.

      1. “What like notification centre?”

        Well yes, actually.

        Unlike others (I’m looking at you Samsung), Apple doesn’t just throws everything up and sees what sticks. Apple would rather do one or two little things extremely well than spew crap all over the place. This has been especially true with the iPhone. Think about everything that was “missing” in iOS 1.x.

        The things that were missing took time to adopt them correctly, unlike Android where the approach was to do everything and if something wasn’t right, just do it again, sometimes with both things living at the same time.

        So Notification Center was clearly something Apple could’ve implemented on day one, but needed to evolve the OS slowly, surely, and decisively to the point where Notification Center, while limited was very well polished.

        However, like everything else with iOS, Notification Center will evolve and most likely I expect it to incorporate more widget functionality is the sense of incorporate customized settings.

        Those now saying, “we don’t need no stinking widgets” may actually still say so, just like some people aren’t using Notification Center today as is, but others may change their minds when they see that a more widgetized Notification Center doesn’t have to be like Android or even the jailbreak solutions today.

        All of this is why I love my jailbroken iOS and would rank my preference as 1) Jailbroken iOS, 2) Stock iOS, 3) Android. And that’s a distant 3rd for Android. I have a Nexus 7 and hate it, so I’m not just being a fan boy here. A jailbroken iOS device starts off being a polished and elegant device which is then only enhanced as far as the individual user wants to take it, bit by bit.

        That’s the problem with the author of the article, and many people bashing jailbreaking. They say they tried it, but what they mean is they jailbroke and then went to Cydia and crapped all over their device. I’ve always told people that if they jailbreak they should start with reading several “top tweak lists” and then pick *1* simple tweak to start with that they feel would increase productivity or functionality for them, and then try another, one step at a time. Maybe iOS is perfect as is, but for me there are roughly 20 or so things alone that make jailbreaking worth it… Settings widgets are one of them.

        Sorry for the long commentary… I’ll shut up now 🙂

        1. Yes I agree.
          Notification center is home to the information I need that would normally be in a battery sapping, inconsistent cluttered ‘widget’

          After reading this thread my per gripe on ‘widget less iOS’ was solved to. I often want to know the date and always wanted it in the menu bar with the time.
          But it’s right there in calendar NC.

          I would like a couple of things from SBSettings (JB app) the biggest is fast access to brightness control – but def not worth JB for me

          Consistency often leads to faster results.

        2. No, please continue (don’t button your lip) – heck no – seriously.

          Because, you got it right. These things need to be drilled in the minds of Android folk… and those still wondering what way to decide.

          These are the things Apple needs to press harder at…
          Educate, Why and What makes iOS a better choice.

          Hoping Apple will do as they did before, run a campaign like PC Guy vs Mac Guy commercials to promote the better OS.

  9. Apple, put your development where your mouth is and get rid of Dashboard and Launchpad once and for all. Thankfully they can be disabled with 3rd party utilities ’cause they are less than useless

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