Among iOS 8's many new features are some cool ways to let you interact with your apps without actually having to open them. Interactive notifications are one example, and another is the brand-new widgets available in Notification Center. Apple is a little late to this game — Android has had widgets for years, and users can put them right on their home screens — but at least what we have is both elegant and functional.
Getting started takes a little bit of setup, but once you have it down you will be relying less on the grid of icons and swiping right into your favorite widget for quickly accessing what you need. Even though iOS 8 has only been out a few days there are already several great widgets, so be sure to keep your apps updated so you'll have access to widgets as developers roll them out. The only problem you may run into is managing such a long scroll of them once you find all the ones you like.
It's time to add some widgets
Widgets are enabled by default on iOS 8. To get started, swipe down to the Notification Center, then choose the tab on the left entitled Today. A few of Apple's own selections are already in place, such as the Today Summary, which gives the weather and notifies you of upcoming appointments, Calendar, and Reminders.
There is also a Calendar widget, traffic conditions, and the ability to add in Apple's Reminders app. You can rearrange, add, or remove any of these by scrolling all the way to the bottom of the list, tapping Edit, and then dragging them to a new order, or pressing the plus and minus icons to add or remove widgets from your list.
With that down, it's time to check out some of the better widgets that third-party developers have whipped up. Here is a sampling of what's available, and how this extra functionality can change how you interact with these apps.
Forget searching through your icons to find a calculator. Adding the PCalc widget puts a fully-functioning calculator right in the Notification Center.
Unlike a notification it doesn't kick you out into the app — just swipe down and start punching the buttons. If you don't have PCalc already, it's one of the best calculators on iOS, so go grab it now for $10.
Leave it to Evernote to be ready with excellent iOS 8 integration on day one. If you use the service then installing the widget will change how you interact with Evernote. The widget puts five key actions in the Notification Center: text, camera, photos, reminder, and list.
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