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iOS 8: How to Install Widgets

how to install PCalc Lite widget

iOS 8 introduces Notification Center widgets. This article will show how to install, arrange and remove widgets on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

iOS 8 is a huge leap forward for Apple’s mobile operating system. They are finally incorporating some of the customization features that have been available on Mac OS X for over a decade. Other mobile operating systems have offered customization for a few years, and Apple still lags behind in this respect.

Apple had different priorities for iOS, and valued graphics performance, security, battery life, and zero-latency multimedia over customization. They noticed that Mac users weren’t using most of the customization features available to the Mac. I think they had the correct priorities. The fundamentals are more important than UI glitter. I have used a Mac for quite some time, and never found widgets to be useful. I still prefer full apps to widgets on my iOS devices.

Widgets are small apps that offer scaled-down functionality. They are intended for easy access and quick use. Many widgets are used to display information, and are useful for assembling a dashboard. Widgets can also perform many tasks that once required an app. In this article, we’ll take a look at how to install, arrange and remove PCalc Lite — an app that comes with a calculator widget.

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How to Install a Widget on iOS 8

Before you install a widget, you need to download an app that offers one. PCalc Lite is a useful app that adds a calculator widget to Notification Center. This will enable you to simply swipe down from the top of your screen and perform calculations.

First, launch the App Store and then tap on the search field in the top right. Enter “PCalc” in the search field and then tap Search on the keyboard. You will see two apps on the results screen. Tap the FREE button on the PCalc Lite panel, and then tap INSTALL. The App Store will prompt you for authentication, and your app will begin downloading.

When PCalc Lite has finished downloading, you won’t need to launch the app to enable the widget. Widgets are made available to Notification Center after the app has been installed. Swipe down from the top of the screen to display Notification Center. If the Today view is not shown, tap on the Today button. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and tap the Edit button. You will see a screen with all of your widgets. Widgets at the top are currently active. Widgets below the Do Not Include label are inactive. To activate the widget, simply tap the green circle with the plus sign, located to the left of PCalc Lite. Tap Done on the top right of the screen when you are finished.

That’s it. Your widget is now installed. Whenever you launch Notification Center, you will see this widget in the Today view. If you need to perform a quick calculation, you can use the widget instead of launching an app.

How to Arrange Widgets on iOS 8

If you don’t like the order of Notification Center widgets, you can easily change it. First, swipe down from the top of the screen to display Notification Center. Make sure you are in the Today view. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and tap the Edit button. Next, use the “handles” (three horizontal lines) next to each widget to position them. Widgets at the top will appear in Notification Center first. When you are finished, tap the Done button on the top right of the screen.

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Users cannot change the order of the Today and Tomorrow summary widgets. These are integral parts of Notification Center, and cannot be moved, but they can be deleted. These rules seem a bit arbitrary, and this is exactly what Apple critics don’t like. Hopefully, future versions of iOS 8 will allow these default widgets to be moved.

How to Remove a Widget From iOS 8

Removing a widget is a simple process. Swipe down from the top of the screen to reveal Notification Center. Make sure you are on the Today view. Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and tap the Edit button. Next, tap the red circle to the left of the widget you would like to remove, then tap the Remove button on the right. The widget will be moved to the Do Not Include list. Tap Done when you have finished removing widgets.

If you wish to remove the widget from the Do Not Include list, you must delete the app associated with the widget. First, locate the app’s icon on the home screen. Next, hold your finger down on the icon until all of the icons start to wiggle. Tap on the “x” on the top left of the icon and confirm deleting the app. The app and the widget are now removed from your system. Tap the home button to exit the home screen edit mode.

Popular Widgets

There are already quite a few popular widgets in the App Store. Unfortunately, they aren’t easy to find. Before Apple implemented Notification Center widgets, third-party companies created apps containing widgets. There are still many of these apps around, so it muddles search results when trying to find widgets.

Searching the web is the best way to find iOS 8 widgets. Some of the most popular widgets are Vidgets, Evernote and NOAA Radar Pro. There are already hundreds of widgets available to iOS 8, and soon there will be thousands. I am hoping that the App Store will offer a better way to shop for widgets. For now, your best bet is to search on the web.

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Widgets Aren’t Wonderful

I am not thrilled about widgets, both on my Mac and on my iOS devices. I simply don’t find them useful. They enable quick access to an app from anywhere in iOS, but it is already easy to launch apps. Even on older devices, apps launch and can be used instantly. You can quickly switch between apps using the App Switcher (double tap the home button or swipe four fingers up on the iPad).

Widgets are mostly designed to provide quick access to information. To some extent, they can be useful. For example, if I am writing something using Notes on my iPad, I can add a widget that has an outline. I can swipe down and display Notification Center whenever I need to reference the outline. This can be done more easily by just adding the outline to Notes and toggling between the two documents.

I don’t think widgets are very useful. If I want to check the news or weather, I can just launch apps. The apps contain more information. Widgets have been a fixture on Mac OS X for over a decade. I never found them useful on my Mac, and I don’t find them useful on my iOS devices.

It is a good thing that Apple enables customization and has added features like widgets. Many users like these features, and they should have the option to use them. I think Apple has the correct priorities. While other mobile operating systems were focused on UI glitter, Apple prioritized an interoperable ecosystem, performance and rich APIs, enabling iOS to have the best apps and interoperability between devices. There is a tradeoff. Would you rather have a customizable user interface or awesome games and the ability to create multimedia with industry-leading apps? I prefer the latter. AirPlay is another Apple ecosystem feature that has been available for years. Other mobile operating systems are just getting these features.

Customization has never been a big deal for me. I don’t think it is for most people. It was a talking point that was used to point out deficiencies in Apple’s mobile operating system. Since most people don’t understand the layers beneath the UI, many think that the UI is the operating system. It’s not. The operating system also needs to support apps, manage memory and control hardware. A great operating system can seamlessly integrate with other devices, much like AirPlay allows one to beam content from an iPhone to an Apple TV. Continuity brings even more useful interoperability to the Apple ecosystem. These are the features I crave.

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In my opinion, customization is low-hanging fruit. Apple realized that people want killer apps, and delivered. Now they are offering customization, and critics are crying foul — “this has been on other mobile operating systems for years”. Yes, and it has also been on the Mac for over a decade. Having had the experience of offering customization on the Mac, Apple correctly realized that most users don’t care about it. Everyone I know who touts the customization features of their favorite mobile operating system uses Windows on their desktop. Windows is the least customizable operating system. Wouldn’t people who love customization use Mac OS X or Linux? Not if they love customization as a talking point. Customization is a great feature to add after you have addressed the fundamentals. I think Apple got it right.


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