back to article Apple's new WidgetKit: Windows Phone Live Tiles done right?

Apple introduced WidgetKit during day two of its WWDC developer event yesterday, describing it as "the best way to bring your app's most useful information to the home screen." Widgets in iOS are not completely new. In earlier versions, widgets lived in the Today view, accessed when you swipe right from the home page on an …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More apple innovation, copying a feature Android had more than a decade ago.

    1. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Have an upvote because that was my first thought too. I'm not sure that the IOS experience is going to match the Android one either. I've got Apple owning friends who think that's the one (and only) thing Android does better. I had a Microsoft Nokia and live tiles was an odd experience. Maybe Apple will get it spot on only time will tell.

    2. HildyJ Silver badge

      Comparing Apples and Swiss Cheese

      Hopefully, for iPhone users, the comparison should be to Google Widgets. The ideal widget is one that shows key, useful, information from an app and allows you to open the app to dig deeper. My home screen is dominated by Calendar, Weather, Clock, and Keep.

      That said, this is just Apple copying what Android users have taken for granted for years.

      It takes time to admit that Steve Jobs was wrong.

      1. fuzzie

        Re: Comparing Apples and Swiss Cheese

        From the description it sounds more like the widgets from Symbian, as seen in Anna and Belle or Sony's souped up widgets on Xperia Android devices. Those all generally display mostly static or lazily updated snippets of information from an app (not Live Tile distraction levels). A given app may present different views and levels of detail, depending on the widget's size/shape. And the whole drag to resize demonstrated with other widgets flowing around it, is not exactly groundbreaking either.

    3. Maximum Delfango

      Apple doesn't copy; they have invented widgets first, but in a non-contiguous and non-linear timeline.

      1. Ilgaz


    4. Kristian Walsh

      Yeah... whatever next? an Olympic Games in Beijing?

      It wasn't even new when Android did it... but in fairness, Google didn't claim that home-screen widgets were anything special; apps being able to display summary status was seen as a basic feature of a mobile device.

      It looks like Apple is copying Windows Live Tiles, which weren't true "widgets", as they didn't allow you to issue commands to an app: all you could do was click them, so they are more like hyperlinks that present a preview of their destination. But when they were done properly, they were very powerful way of managing the information that a phone can deliver. An app user could create a live-tile for any specific content that an app could access, with made them very effective for narrowing the scope of notifications, and as such they're something I really miss since moving to Android with its cacophony of pointless notification alerts (yes, I know how to turn them off; my complaint is that I shouldn't have to: they shouldn't be on by default).

      Examples of live-tiles that worked: in a podcast app you can pin a few of your favourite feeds to the front page, and you'll see when those are updated, without being bothered by updates for the other podcasts you follow less frequently; or, pin a particular contact in a communications app, and you will see notification of when they contact you, not when anyone has contacted you via that app.

      The Live Tile idea is based on well-proven principles of how people construct mental models of tasks: it shifts the focus onto the object of interest (your contact, the location you want a weather forecast for, your favourite podcast, your family photos album), and not the tool or method (the apps that provide you with those services). Understand that, and you can see why some brand-name social app developers were so lukewarm on Windows Phone - it shifted control of the interaction back toward the user.

      Against that, the initial implementation of live tiles was visually far too "busy" and distracting, and by the time that was addressed, the fate of Windows Phone had already been sealed by developer decisions.

    5. JDX Gold badge

      None of my Android apps on my home screen offer content except a notification dot, and the calendar app icon tells you what day of the month it is (which I only just realised).

      Unlike Apple, where you can see how many texts and emails you have from the icon.

      I liked Windows Mobile, where you didn't have separate widgets and app icons. A tile could show you genuinely useful information like the weather forecast, emails, etc - there are lots of times I open an app to see one thing that could've been displayed on the icon.

    6. Dave559 Bronze badge

      Hold on newcomers, Symbian had homescreen widgets way way before Android or Windows Phone were even on the scene…

  2. Garymrrsn

    More Clutter?

    I've spent hours trying to get rid of the useless crap that comes pre-imposed on my phone's home screen that can't be uninstalled.

    It's my phone Not their billboard!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More Clutter?

      I take it you've never used any Samsung phone ever?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought Windows tiles were a brilliant UI

    ...the single good piece of UI design that Microsoft has done... ever.

    A/C because I feel like a dirty whore praising Microsoft.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Re: I thought Windows tiles were a brilliant UI

      I agree.

      It was shite on desktop, but the few times I had to interact with a windows phone, it was surprisingly intuitive.

  4. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

    Will it be implemented

    in the next version of the COVID tracing app, to know real-time if you walked by an infected person?

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

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