Lock Screen Widget Limitations

iPhone Lock Screen Widgets

Lock Screen widgets launched with iOS 16 and I haven’t touched them at all until just a few days ago. I remember the good old days when I would update to the latest version of iOS on day one and had thoroughly explored every new feature within a week.

But times have changed. I have some additional responsibility that has a much higher priority and the features included in Apple’s software updates haven’t been a massive draw for me lately. I can’t remember the last time I felt compelled to try a new feature.

I finally started tinkering with Lock Screen widgets, though, and I have some observations that I’m sure everyone else already found their way to.

The thin widget area above the time will always display the day of the week followed by the date. It’s added by the system. So when you build a widget for that area, the developer is only able to add the section following the day and date.

This seems unnecessarily limiting. It discourages developers from building widgets that display the date because, no matter what you do, the system will always show it to you. Any third-party widget that displays the date — regardless of how cleverly it’s depicted — will feel redundant.

This also artificially limits how much screen real estate developers have available to them in that widget area. If you want to use the Things widget there, you’re lucky if you get more than a few words of your top to do list item before it’s truncated.

Apple should offer the option to hide the day and date in that area and allow users to select no widget for that area as well, if they prefer a more minimalist look or would rather utilize a third-party widget to display that information below the time instead.

The widget area below the time feels much more useful to me than the other. You can fit up to four widgets and can choose between two different widget sizes — square or rectangular.

iPhone Lock Screen Widget Limitations

But this comes with its own set of limitations, unfortunately. If you place a single square widget in this section, it will display centered on your device. Great. But if you choose a single rectangular widget, it will display left-aligned. Why?

If you add one or two square widgets to sit next to your rectangular widget, the rectangle can only be placed on the left, and the square widgets will always show in the right. Why can’t I adjust the order of those to my liking?

Perhaps even more maddening, if you select a single rectangular widget and a single square widget, you’re left with a gap in-between. Why can’t I eliminate this gap and have the two widgets right up next to one-another, centered on the display?

You could say that this is a first iteration and they’ll fix these limitations over time, but again, this feature shipped in iOS 16. iOS 17 released two months ago and these limitations remain.

I have found a setup that I’m fond of. I’ve placed Hello Weather above the time with three battery widgets below showing the charge of my headphones — Sony WH-1000XM5, AirPods, and AirPods case. But I suspect I would have come to a much different setup if Apple removed the annoying and completely unnecessary limitations on this feature.

And for anyone curious, I’m using the Aqueux Aqua wallpaper.