iOS 17 Interactive Widgets: A New Era of Lock Screen Functionality

Apple’s iOS 17 introduces a game-changing new widget capability – interactivity. Interactive widgets allow users to perform app actions and access information without leaving the Lock Screen, Home Screen, or Standby mode. This brings apps to the user’s fingertips like never before.

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What are Interactive Widgets?

Traditional iOS widgets have been limited to passive information display. With interactive widgets, developers can now add buttons, toggles, and other controls that trigger app functions. Users can tap these controls to interact with the app without fully launching it.

For example, a weather app’s widget could include controls for toggling between Celsius and Fahrenheit. An email app’s widget may have buttons to compose or search within the inbox. Interactive widgets blend the convenience of widgets with the full capabilities of apps.

Key Features and Capabilities

Here are some of the key features and capabilities of iOS 17 interactive widgets:

  • Direct access to app functions: Buttons, toggles, and other controls can trigger app actions like composing an email or pausing music playback. This provides quick access without launching the full app.
  • Live information updates: Widgets can refresh in real-time to display up-to-date information. For example, a sports score or weather widget can update dynamically.
  • Customizable controls: Developers can create interactive elements tailored to their app’s functions. The controls can adapt based on context too.
  • Touch input support: Widgets can accept taps, swipes, and other touch gestures, allowing for a range of inputs.
  • Widget stacking: Multiple widgets from the same app can be stacked vertically to save space and create aggregated views.
  • Home Screen and Lock Screen capability: Interactive widgets work on both the Lock Screen and Home Screen for system-wide utility.
  • StandBy support: Widgets appear on the new Standby screen as well, accessible with a tap while the display is off.

Configuration Options

Apple provides developers with robust configuration options for interactive widgets, including:

  • Widget sizes: Small, medium, and large widget sizes allow flexibility for display needs.
  • Widget layouts: Choose a simple single view or a more complex stacked view with multiple widgets.
  • Update frequency: Configure update intervals from continuous real-time to hourly and even daily.
  • Required permissions: Request only the minimal permissions needed for each widget’s functions.
  • Dynamic views: Adapt widget display based on factors like network conditions, time of day, location, and more.
  • Widget actions: Define single, double, and long-press gestures on tap targets to trigger app actions.

These settings allow developers to tune widgets precisely for their app’s use cases. Widgets can be as simple or robust as needed.

Top App Examples Using Interactive Widgets

Here are some of the top apps that have embraced interactive widgets in iOS 17:

1. Widgetsmith

This popular widget utility app offers interactive widgets like toggles for system settings like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and Low Power Mode. Users can enable or disable these settings right from a widget.

2. Spark Mail

Spark’s email app widgets now allow actions like opening the inbox, composing new messages, and searching without launching the full app. Productivity on the go!

3. Glucomate

This health app for diabetes monitoring includes an interactive widget for logging blood glucose readings quickly. Users can log a reading with just a tap.

4. Timery

Timery’s time tracking widgets now feature start/stop toggles and the ability to switch between tracked tasks, saving time for users.

5. Things 3

The task management app Things 3 includes widgets where users can view upcoming tasks or quickly add new ones without app launch.

These are just a handful of the apps utilizing interactive widgets already. Many more are sure to add support as developers dig into the new capabilities.

Adding Interactive Widgets to Your Home Screen

Adding interactive widgets to your Home Screen is easy. Just follow these steps:

  1. Long press on any empty area of your Home Screen until all icons start to jiggle.
  2. Tap the “+” button in the top-left corner to bring up the widget gallery.
  3. Scroll down to see available interactive widgets from your apps.
  4. Tap on any widget to add it to your Home Screen at the desired size.
  5. Drag the widget to your preferred location and press done to set your layout.

You can add as many interactive widgets as you want. Try stacking multiple widgets from the same app to create aggregated views.

The Future of iOS Widgets

Interactive widgets represent the next evolution of iOS widgets. Apple first introduced widgets on the Home Screen in iOS 14, but they were limited to passive information.

iOS 17 breaks that mold with interactive controls that bring app power to the Lock Screen and Home Screen. This may completely change how users interact with their devices.

As developers increasingly adopt interactive widgets, users will be able to accomplish more without ever launching apps. This provides tremendous convenience.

Interactive widgets are still new, so iOS 17 represents just the beginning. As Apple develops the technology further, interactive widgets could become even more functional and powerful. Just like apps expanded the iPhone’s capabilities dramatically, interactive widgets may do the same in the widget realm.

Frequently Asked Questions

What apps support interactive widgets?

Some of the top apps using interactive widgets already include Widgetsmith, Spark Mail, Glucomate, Timery, and Things 3. Many more apps are expected to add support soon.

Do interactive widgets work on iPhone and iPad?

Yes, interactive widgets are available on both iPhone and iPad devices running iOS 17. The features work across Apple’s product line.

Can I add interactive widgets to my Lock Screen too?

Absolutely. Interactive widgets work on the Lock Screen just like the Home Screen. Add your favorite widgets to conveniently access app functions without unlocking your device.

Will older iOS widgets also get interactivity?

It’s up to each developer to add interactive features to their existing widgets. Many are expected to update their iOS 14 and 15 widgets over time. But not all widgets may adopt the new capabilities.

Can I resize or rearrange interactive widgets?

You can choose between small, medium and large widget sizes when adding them. You can also drag widgets anywhere on the Home Screen or Lock Screen to customize layout.


Interactive widgets bring a whole new dimension of functionality and convenience to iOS devices. With the ability to trigger app actions right from the Lock Screen or Home Screen, widgets may soon replace opening many apps.

As developers roll out inventive new interactive designs, users will have information and controls at their fingertips like never before. iOS 17 kicks off the next big evolution of widgets, but plenty of potential remains untapped. Get ready for more innovation and creativity as interactive widgets become ubiquitous in the iOS ecosystem.

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