If you have an iPhone and haven’t added widgets to your lock screen yet, you really should. I ignored the feature, and now that I’m using it, I can’t get over how much time and attention it saves.
Lock screen widgets are new, so here’s a nudge
Apple released iOS 16 on September 12, 2022, bringing a host of new features, including lock screen widgets. As of this writing, the feature is about a month old, so you can certainly be forgiven for not even knowing (let alone messing with) lock screen widgets.
While I’m aware of them, I’ll admit I haven’t paid much attention to them. Way back in 2020, with the release of iOS 14, iPhones finally got home screen widgets.
It took me a bit to adopt these too, and when I finally did I found them really useful. But when lock screen widgets arrived, my attitude was, “Who cares? I already have widgets.”
However, lately I’ve been trying to change some phone-related habits and I didn’t realize how much lock screen widgets could help with that.
Not only are they useful, they can help you focus
Sure, there’s a fundamental advantage to putting some information on your lock screen: you don’t have to unlock or open your phone to get that information. But I found that the lock screen widgets offered a greater benefit because they helped me change two less-than-productive phone behavior patterns.
First, I tried opening the phone less because opening your phone is an attention trap. You might think you unlock your phone and open the home screen just to check the weather or just refer to your to-do list, but who knows what might happen when this magical distraction portal is open?
A simple “is it going to rain tonight?” could turn into a distraction-filled social media dip or Googling random stuff.
Second, and directly related to that first point, I tried to jump straight to the app I need without any intermediate stops. Although I’m sure there are people out there with the kind of laser focus that allows them to open their phone, see all those shiny colorful app icons and Not Think of ten other things that are directly, indirectly, or not at all related to the task at hand. I’m not one of them and I’m sure many of you can relate.
To that end, not only are iPhone lock screen widgets great in a general “oh great, I can see stuff without unlocking my phone,” they’re also fantastic for my purposes.
In my case, simply inserting one of the numerous carrot weather widgets (seriously, they have 19 widgets, including one you can customize with any combination of 18 data points) and the Todoist widget meant the number of times the I needed to open my phone and navigate through the home screen, and various apps fell off dramatically.
Now when I look at my phone I can see the time and weather (with a tap to see more detailed weather). I can also see my daily to-do list items without opening my phone, and when I want to check them off, add more, or drill down into more detail, a single tap takes me straight to the daily to-do list.
It’s a simple thing, but adding the two widgets has greatly reduced the number of times per day I open my phone to access my to-do list and end up being distracted by something else. In fact, opening the phone to the home screen to use other apps feels like a conscious choice rather than a “well, here we are on the home screen for the 200th time today” routine.
Your experience with lock screen widgets might not be quite as dramatic, I certainly can’t promise that they will magically help you interact with your phone in different, less distracting and more purposeful ways.
But I still encourage you to read this guide on how to add widgets to your iPhone lock screen to see the native iOS widgets and the widgets of your favorite apps and how they can put the information you want right in front of you.