iPad widgets concept

An iPad widgets concept perhaps provides the answer to why Apple didn’t do what many of us wanted: allow flexible positioning of widgets on the iPad, in the same way as on the iPhone.

I raised the issue as soon as iPadOS 14 was announced …

I don’t think I’ve ever before written a feature request the moment a new operating system version has been announced, but one super-disappointing discovery prompts me to do so: iPad widgets in iPadOS 14 get less flexibility than iPhone ones […]

In iOS 14 on the iPhone, you can have widgets anywhere you like, on any screen. You can mix-and-match apps and widgets as you like.

In iPadOS 14, however, widgets are still limited to the sidebar – and only on the first screen. You can’t freely mix-and-match apps and widgets across the full width of the home screen, and you can’t have widgets on the second or subsequent screens.

More than 95% of you agreed with me that iPad widgets should be as flexible as iPhone ones.

I said at the time that the decision not to allow this seemed inexplicable to me, but a concept showing what flexible widgets would look like on larger iPads may provide the explanation.

On the iPad, the new widgets can only be added to the Today view, which appears along the left-hand side of the first homepage screen.

Matt Birchler’s new concept imagines what “proper widget support” on iPad could look like. In this scenario, you would be able to add widgets directly to your iPad’s home screen and intermingle the widgets with traditional app icons.

As iPad screen sizes have grown, the grid spacing has looked increasingly ridiculous and would mean that even the smallest 2×2 widgets would look almost comically over-sized.

This doesn’t mean that Apple shouldn’t do it, of course: it means that Apple should instead have grid patterns appropriate to each iPad screen size. It’s absolutely crazy that on a 12.9-inch screen, my app icons have to be this far apart:

I’d be perfectly content with my iPad icons being the same physical size as my iPhone ones, and my widgets being the same physical size as the iPhone ones. That would make for massively more efficient use of the screen, and mean that we could combine quite a few widgets with having our most-used apps on the home screen.

What’s your view? Should Apple allow icon spacing on the iPad to match that of the iPhone, then give us flexible widgets of the same physical size? Please take our poll, and share your thoughts in the comments.

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About the Author

Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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