How will Apple implement widgets in iOS 5?

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| Published: May 30, 2011

Ever since iOS was first introduced, it has been considered the most smooth and polished mobile platform of them all. While that is certainly hard to contest, iOS does have its rough spots. What was once believed to be the most functional phone on the market is aging quickly as the ever-popular Android continually boasts its magnificent home screen features.

Rumors of what the iOS 5 update will hold have been circulating for months now. The word on the street is that Apple will be overhauling their notification system, changing the way multitasking is done, and adding home screen features like widgets in the pending update.

Naturally, people have taken stabs at how they believe these changes will look. The notification hacks have been available for months in Cydia and to put it bluntly, anything is better than Apple's current method. There are also some alternate methods of multitasking available, if you've been so brave as to jailbreak. And while some of these alternate methods are cool to show off, they seem to be a little laggy, battery killers, or no better than the current method.

More recently, however, people have tried their hand at putting a face to the most current rumor. Widgets are nothing new to the mobile realm, but to iOS users, they are something many have only dreamed of having mixed in with their hundreds of app icons and neatly organized folders.

Before a flame war begins in the comments section below, I will note that Android was not the first to create widgets, they were simply the first to utilize them on a mobile platform. Mac OS X has had widgets for quite a some time now. So for once, let's try not to play "who had it first" or say anyone is "copying" someone else, and let us embrace the thought that iOS may be getting a facelift soon.

The first approach comes from Jan-Michael Cart (click the link for videos), a graphic designer with a unique but not too far-fetched idea. Well, two ideas, actually. Cart's first method is a Lion-styled dashboard that leaves the application and folder pages alone and separately manages widgets on "dashboard" pages. The spotlight page is replaced by widget pages, which can be added by tapping a button beside the search bar. The second method is probably more logical as widgets, applications and folders are all managed together. To add a widget, you simply scroll to the spotlight page and place the widget on the desired home screen. Quick and simple.

The second concept comes from Federico Bianco, who thinks the iOS widgets will take after their OS X brethren. Nothing is said about how the widgets will be added, but he believes they will be used alongside applications and folders, much like Cart's concept. What's truly different about Bianco's idea is that he also believes changes will be brought to the lock screen and photo application, making them much more functional.

Both concepts look ultra smooth and I could definitely see Apple's implementation favoring one – or both. In all honesty, I don't know how they could do it any different. That said, these concepts don't deviate too far from the path and didn't require a whole lot of thinking outside the box. I wouldn't underestimate Apple here; they're long past due for a major update – one that fixes the more torn and ragged aspects of the platform. So I'm almost positive they will come out with guns a-blazin'.

What say you? Will Apple default to the obvious widget implementation, or will they blindside us with an off the wall method? Do you think other aspects (aside from notifications, multitasking and widgets) need overhauling?

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