With the news that Apple is to bring proper home screen widgets to iOS there will be many Android fans bitterly pointing out that to them, this is nothing new. This writer saw the iOS 14 presentation and immediately thought back to Windows Phone and the tiles that made that operating system look so different to both Apple’s and Google’s mobile software.
It’s true that Apple has, as it often does, waited a hell of a long time and then boldly copied the ideas of others. But rather than start a fight about stealing ideas and being late, this should be seen as good news for fans of all smartphones no matter the allegiance to brand.
The Android faithful can be smug in the knowledge that widgets have been part of their mobile life for nigh on a decade. If you’re that tuned into tech then you know it’s normal for Apple to be pretty late on features seen in Android phones (we’re still waiting on a 120Hz screen iPhone) and know that you always get them first. Be happy! You won, again.
But it should be a positive thing that millions of iPhone users will now get to customise their home screens with useful widgets of information. These people are on iOS for a multitude of reasons, be it the convenience of iMessage, syncing to their Mac, or just plain habit.
These folks will now see a cool new feature when they update their software later this year and be able to access information at a glance rather than diving into apps. It’s a much better solution than the widget view currently to the left of the iPhone’s home screen.
It’s also great news for fans of Windows Phone still mourning the death of the platform. If they’ve moved over to Android but aren’t fully in love, then iOS’ move to widgets could be an excellent second option. Live tiles on Windows Phone were useful and had a striking aesthetic, and along with Apple’s new App library (basically an app drawer or list) you can now scroll through apps in an alphabetical list – you guessed it – just like on Windows Phone.
Steve Jobs famously paraphrased Picasso, saying that good artists copy but that great artists steal. This is a tad pompous, we know, but we should all celebrate it if iOS is better for the ideas it implements that echo the functions of other operating systems. Android mega fans will be livid, but if you can tune out from the noise, then none of that matters.
We must remember that not all iPhone users are plugged into the tech press’ output and will innocently one day accidentally discover the new features that iOS 14 brings. A weather widget will make their lives that few seconds easier every day, and they’ll move on.
Tech enthusiasts, us included, could learn a thing or two about stepping back from fighting over iOS vs Android and just celebrate that Apple is striving to make its iPhone software better. Yes, even if it did take it the best part of a decade to break up with the rigid grid of apps by resurrecting something Microsoft did several years ago.