Posted on Sun 03 May 2015

My Notification Center widgets

Woman on phone

I used to have a jailbreak tweak on my phone similar to Launcher, that let me launch apps by pulling down on my screen, no matter what else I was doing on my phone. I had another one that let me add links to my read later accounts from anywhere on my phone. These days I use Polus to launch apps from my Control Center anytime I like.

I love the ability to access useful shortcuts from anywhere. This is why I use Alfred on my Mac constantly.

iOS 8 brought a lot more of that kind of access through official means. One way it did this was through Notification Center widgets. They're one of my favourite ways to interact with my phone. Some apps seem to have widgets because they can, rather than because they're a good use case, but for some apps, NC widgets have become my primary—or even sole—method of interacting with them.

Here are my favourites NC widgets so far.

Weather Underground/Weather Nerd/BeWeather

The only reason I have the Weather Underground app on my phone is for its widget. For an accurate iOS weather app in Australia, Pocket Weather is the best option. (Really the only option I'd recommend, since no one else gets Australian weather accurate enough. Pocket Weather uses official Bureau of Meteorology data to give you real Australian weather info.) And I use my Pebble more than my phone to check the weather anyway, so I don't have any need for the WU app, except for the widget.

Old Weather Underground widget

WU used to have a widget for iOS 8 with an hourly graph of the day showing the chance of rain at each hourly interval. It's a common view inside weather apps but WU was the only app I found with this view in a widget.

The latest update changed the widget to be a week view of high/low temps and current temp. No graph.

Luckily I found Weather Nerd and BeWeather which both have exactly the same kind of graph in a widget that I wanted. They both use Forecast.io for weather data which is generally close enough for Australian weather, but so far I've found the rain prediction isn't reliable. The Weather Nerd widget often won't load in my Notification Center, either. I'd recommend giving the BeWeather free version a try if you want a similar rain graph widget.

BeWeather widget

And I'm open to suggestions—let me know if you've seen another weather app doing this type of rain widget.

Momentum

I've tried a lot of habit tracking apps, and spent many hours researching the ones I haven't tried. I have some specific requirements when it comes to a habit tracking app:

  • Must have a widget that lets me check off my habits from the Notification Center.
  • Must have flexible scheduling for habits I don't want to complete every day.
  • Preferably has a notes field so I can keep track of notes related to my habits.

Momentum is the first app I've found since Lift's earlier versions that has all the features I want. Since Lift changed directions and became Coach.me, I wasn't keen on using it as a private habit tracking app since it's no longer designed to be used that way, but thankfully Momentum filled the void.

Momentum widget

The widget lets me check off my habits for any day in the current week. Adding notes or checking my current habit streak has to be done in the app, but this works fine for me. It's a great split between app and widget functionality.

Hours

I stopped using the Hours time tracking app because I couldn't get into a habit of remembering to turn the timers on and off, but I'm planning on using it again when the Mac app is available. I'm hoping it'll be easier to remember to use the Mac version (and if I end up with an Apple Watch the watch version will be a great addition to the family).

Hours widget

The iOS Hours widget lets you start and stop timers which will be really handy for starting them when I'm not at my computer or stopping the ones I leave running by mistake when I'm no longer at my desk.

Fantastical

Although I use Calendars 5 as my everyday calendar app, Fantastical is the only calendar widget I've found that lets me see a whole month at a time and swipe through future months.

Fantastical widget

It's perfect for quickly entering an appointment when I'm away from my computer—for instance, booking a haircut when I'm at the hairdresser. I can check when I'm free and enter the appointment without having to fire up my calendar app and navigate to the right screen first.


It's really easy for the Notification Center to get cramped from all the widgets available, so I try to only add widgets I'll use often. So far these have been the most useful widgets I've found. Let me know if you have a favourite that I didn't mention—you can find me on Twitter at @BelleBCooper.

P.S. I make some stuff you might like: Exist, a personal analytics app to help you understand your life, and Larder, a bookmarking app for developers.


Image credits: Woman on phone via Sebastiaan ter Burg, Weather Underground widget via ActualidadiPhone, BeWeather widget via BeWeather, Momentum widget via iDownloadBlog, Hours widget via TechGet, Fantastical widget via iMore.

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