Widget

The best Notification Center widgets of 2014

When Apple first revealed that iOS users would be able to access information from the Lock screen in iOS 8, I wasn’t that excited. I’ve never had a problem just unlocking my iPhone and opening the app I want to get information from. However, once Notification Center extensions became available, I was hooked. Now, I’ve got to-do lists, weather forecasts, news updates, and all kinds of widgets sitting on my Today view.

Everyone at iDB is excited about widgets, so it was pretty easy to come up with a big list of nominations. However, it was hard to narrow it down to the best one. With much hair pulling involved, we came to a final vote. The list below reveals our winner for best Notification Center widget, as well as the runner-ups. Since the feature has only existed for a few months, we are not going to name any “best ever” widget this year.

DockPhone lets you easily place phone calls from your Mac

DockPhone is a new app that lets you dial and call any number directly from your Mac. Based on FaceTime’s capabilities, and taking advantage of the new Continuity feature found on OS X Yosemite, DockPhone lets you make calls via your iPhone cellular connection right from the Mac, effectively adding a simple feature that users would have expected Apple to ship with Yosemite in the first place.

Nest Notification Center widget Thermos gets a warm update

A couple weeks ago, I told you about Thermos, a widget for Notification Center on Mac that lets you adjust the temperature of your Nest thermostat. At the time, I was quite impressed with the widget, despite the fact that I felt it was a bit limited and contained a minor bug. This is now a thing of the past as Thermos was just updated with new features, and a fix for the pesky bug.

Glimpse lets you check your favorite webpages from Notification Center

Glimpse is a new app that lets you pin one or more favorite webpages to the Today tab of Notification Center, allowing to have a quick glance at your most visited websites, without having to launch Safari. The Notification Center extension is particularly handy to check news-focused websites where information is often time sensitive, and where a quick look is usually enough to get an idea of what is going on, without necessarily unlocking the device and opening up the full web browser.

My Verizon Mobile app lets you track your data usage from Notification Center

Verizon customers who use the official My Verizon Mobile app can now track their data usage directly from the Today tab of Notification Center. The app was updated yesterday with this new feature that should allow users to keep their data usage in check. The widget is updated automatically based on users’ plan and usage, showing the total data allocation as well as currently used data.

Thermos lets you set your Nest thermostat temperature from OS X Notification Center

Thermos is a recently released Mac application that works hand in hand with Nest to allow you to set the temperature of your thermostat right from Notification Center. Additionally, and if you also have Nest Protect smoke detectors in your home, the app will be able to send you push notifications in case smoke or carbon monoxide has been detected by the devices.

Apple asks ‘Neato’ to remove keyboard in ongoing war on widgets

Apple is once again going after a Notification Center widget for overstepping its bounds. Neato, a popular note-taking widget with a built-in keyboard and share controls, says the Cupertino firm has threatened to remove the app for violating its App Review Guidelines.

More specifically, the developers behind Neato told Gizmodo that Apple has asked them to remove the keyboard from their widget, or else. The team tried to appeal, but Apple wasn’t going to budge, and gave them two weeks to submit an update to correct their issue.

Sunrise gets iOS 8 widget, Google Tasks and Eventbrite apps and iPhone 6 support

After gaining push support for Google Calendar, enhanced search and Todoist integration back in September and issuing a few maintenance updates since, Sunrise, the popular cross-platform calendar and to-do application, on Thursday launched a major new version in the App Store.

Sunrise now features native display support for the new 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus resolutions so it will no longer run enlarged on the new iPhones.

You can now authorize both Google Tasks and Eventbrite services for use in Sunrise and there’s a brand new widget for the Today view of the Notification Center on iOS 8.

Respective iOS and OS X edition of Sunrise are available free in the App Store and Mac App Store.

Mooncast adds the current moon phase to Notification Center

In general, most of us take the moon for granted. It’s always there. All we have to do is look up at night to see it (depending on the time of the night and the moon’s phase). Some people claim that it has an effect on how we act.

Mooncast is a simple app that displays an image of the moon in its current phase with a few additional bits of information about its status in the night’s sky. The app recently received a major update that adds the moon’s phase to your Notification Center’s Today view.

Google News & Weather gets iOS 8 Today widget

Nearly a month following its App Store debut, the search giant’s News & Weather application for the iPhone and iPad has received a Today widget for iOS 8’s Notification Center, along with a handful of bug fixes.

Bumped from version 1.0.232 to 1.1.276, the software now provides an at-a-glance overview of the top three headlines within the Notification Center, but no  interactivity.

Google News & Weather is free in the App Store.