If you have an iPhone and haven’t added some 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 what a time and attention-saver it is.
Apple released iOS 16 on September 12, 2022, and it has a host of new features, including lock screen widgets. As of this writing, the feature is roughly a month old, so you can certainly be forgiven for not even being aware of lock screen widgets (let alone playing around with them).
Even being aware of them, I’ll admit I didn’t pay them much attention. Way back in 2020, with the release of iOS 14, iPhones finally got home screen widgets.
It took me a bit to adopt those too, and when I finally did, I found them genuinely useful. But when the lock screen widgets arrived, my attitude was, “Who cares? I already have widgets.”
Lately, however, I’ve been attempting to change some phone-related habits, and I didn’t realize how much lock screen widgets could help with them.
They’re Not Just Useful, They Can Help You Focus
Sure, there’s a fundamental benefit 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 bigger benefit because than just that because they helped me change two less-than-productive phone behavioral patterns.
First, I’ve been trying to open the phone less because opening your phone up is an attention trap. You might think you’re unlocking your phone and opening the home screen just to check the weather or just to reference your to-do list, but once that magical distraction portal is open, who knows what might happen?
A simple “Is it going to rain tonight?” might become a distraction-filled plunge into social media or Googling random things.
Second, and directly related to that first point, I’ve been trying to jump right to the app I need without any stops in between. While I’m sure there are people out there with the kind of laser focus that allows them to open their phone, see all the shiny colorful app icons, and not think about ten other things related directly, indirectly, or not at all, to the task at hand, I’m not one of them, and I’m sure a lot of you can relate.
To those ends, not only are iPhone lock screen widgets great in a general “oh neat, I can see stuff without unlocking my phone” they’re fantastic for my purposes.
In my case, simply putting one of the numerous Carrot Weather widgets (seriously, they have 19 widgets, including one where you can customize with any combination of 18 data points) and the Todoist widget meant the number of times I needed to open my phone and navigate through the home screen, and various apps dropped dramatically.
Now, glancing at my phone, I can see the time and weather (with one tap to see more detailed weather). I can also see my daily to-do list entries without opening my phone, and when I want to check them off, add more, or see them in more detail, it’s a single tap that takes me right to the daily to-do list.
It’s a simple thing, but by just adding the two widgets, the number of times per day I open my phone to access my to-do list and end up distracted with something else has plummeted. In fact, opening the phone to the home screen to use other apps feels like a conscious choice instead of a “well, here we are at 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’ll magically help you interact with your phone in a different, less distracted, and more purposeful way.
But I’d still encourage you to check out this guide to adding widgets to your iPhone lock screen to see the native iOS widgets, the widgets your favorite apps have, and how they can put the information you want right in front of you.