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How to Create a Widget for Your iOS Application?

For the uninitiated, a widget is simply a device extension that provides small pieces of significant real-time information based on application specificity. Trending iOS applications are looking forward to developing their widgets. Those who already have are planning on improving their functionalities. Widgets have become very popular in the last few years owing to their easy access.

Moreover, they allow users to gain relevant and useful information without having to open the parent application. One can gather some great examples of widget utility from Weather apps, Calendar applications, To-Do lists, etc. Now and then, iOS application developers need to change the amount of information provided by their widgets as per the customer requirement.

They are very handy when it comes to gathering quick real-time data from your device. Users have the option to add widgets to their home screen as well as their Search screen as per their accessibility requirement. Once added, users can access it simply by swiping right from their Lock Screen and Home Screen.

When it comes to iOS applications, one can access multiple widgets that would serve them a ton of good. However, the key for iOS application development company is to create widgets that iPhone users would be eager to use and gain benefits from.

How does a widget work?

Widgets keep complete track of everything that is happening within the app. Whenever users access the widget, they get the latest updates performed through the app. Besides, there are some widgets that direct users to a specific part of the app. Some iOS applications have multiple types of widgets that one can access based on the user’s requirement.

For instance, the application Timery has three widgets: Saved Timers, Time tracked, and Current time entry, each displaying different facets of the same application. On the other hand, the iOS application Apple News offers two varieties of widgets, one allowing daily relevant bites while the other shows stories relating to a topic of interest.

How to add widget extension for iOS

Let us learn how to create a widget on your iOS platform through the following steps. But first, we need to know what today’s extensions are.

About Today extensions

The widgets that we use are simply nothing, but Application extensions known as Today extensions. Today extensions help the users share the functionality of the app. Besides, users can access information in their Lock screen and notification center through today’s extensions without actually opening the app.

Let us begin the procedure and learn how to create extensions today. iOS users need to install the app to create the Today extension.

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Creating the widget

  1. Open an existing project
  2. Add Target – Go to the following path by selecting File à New à Target.
  3. Under the iOS section, select the option Today Extension. Click on Next.
  4. Enter the name of the widget of the iOS application you want to create.
  5. Select the application that you want to.
  6. The project Navigator will show that a new group has been added named after your widget.
  7. All you need to do now is change the schema and select the widget’s target.
  8. Finally, Run the project.

The simulator’s notification center will show a widget with the added message.

Designing the Widget’s UI

Now that we have created and run the widget, it is time to design it.

  1. Start by opening the storyboard of the target we just added.
  2. Remove the default label.
  3. Let us start by adding a table view, a button, and two labels in the tableview cell.
  4. Add the UI image next to the reminder status.
  5. Add labels for the respective title and description of the reminder.
  6. Select the tableview cell and add the class name.
  7. Add other constraints as required so that they connect to the outlets using the Assistant Editor.
  8. You can choose to add vibrancy effect to the widget by adding Visual effect View with Blur in our tableview cell from the object browser.
  9. Default iOS widgets look a lot similar to this.
  10. You can also make a visual effect view using the WidgetTableViewCell.

Sharing Files with Widgets

As mentioned before, widgets are simply extensions. Extensions are nothing but any other application; hence, the widgets and the containing app cannot directly communicate. But in some instances, the widget might need to share data. You can do it by sharing user defaults between them. Just perform the following steps to ensure the same.

  • Select the main app target.
  • Select the Capabilities tab
  • Enable App groups. You would require an Apple developer’s account to perform this step.
  • Create an app group. Moreover, the group name must start with the term “group”.
  • Then repeat the process by selecting the widget as a target.
  • We can use the existing app group this time.
  • You can use this group for saving or retrieving any items from userDefaults.

Why do iOS application Development companies need to create their widgets?

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One of the aspects where iOS users fall behind Android’s is in terms of widgets. Android users have been availing of the benefits of widgets for a long. After iOS 14 arrived, iOS users were allowed to use third-party widgets on their home screens and remain relevant to the information.

Furthermore, iOS 14 outworked Android users providing them a slew of iOS app widgets to work with. Let us have a look at the improvements.

  • Cohesive design for all iOS widgets is provided. Every widget has to comply with a standard that has to be approved.
  • Several app widgets can be aggregated using Apple’s Smart Stack widget, and the user simply has to scroll through. Besides, previous user behavior can determine which widget will be shown and which will be hidden.
  • App development companies can gain a competitive edge if their app has an effective widget that provides operability and benefits. Many applications run out of favor as they are unable to provide an efficient widget for the users to enjoy
  • Retaining users – The widget can act as a form of advertisement for the app itself. Also, users will be inclined to retain the app even more if they find the widget attractive and worth using.

Conclusion

Widgets are the modern-day trump card iOS applications that need to stay relevant in the app market. Although iOS users do not have to deal with newer applications getting launched every other day, there are a number of apps that they deal with. Besides, providing beneficial widgets helps their cause to a large extent. It allows them ease of access and also on-the-go data retrievals without even having to open the application itself. Consequently, this is a win-win situation for all concerned, the end-users, and the iOS application development company.

Rushabh Patel

Rushabh Patel is the Founder and CEO of Siddhi InfoSoft, a leading web and mobile app development company focused on creating experiences that connect, perform & inspire. We believe in delivering perfect business solutions by adopting the latest and trending technologies for web and app development projects.

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