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.

I’ve been calling for iOS to evolve beyond a static grid for more than six years now

On the left is iOS 1, on the right the recently-leaked iOS 8 homescreen. Seven years apart, yet still essentially identical in form: a grid of static icons. Looked at in one way, that’s incredibly impressive: that a user-interface that worked in 2007 still works today.

But it does make me wonder at what point the iOS homescreen will move beyond this format? […]

Think about all the times in the day when you pick up your iPhone. Of those, how many times are to check something and how many times are to do something? I’d suggest we pick up our phones to check a message or appointment or the weather way more often than we do so to open an app.

So if checking live data is the primary usage, and using apps secondary, shouldn’t that be reflected in how the OS works? Shouldn’t displaying live data be the initial view, swiping that away to access our apps?

A little over five years later, we finally got widgets on the iPad, though not the iPhone. Another year on, and widgets are coming to the iPhone too.

But there’s one really bizarre aspect to this: the iPhone gets far more widget flexibility than the iPad!

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.

That seems utterly inexplicable to me. Why would you make a more powerful device with a larger screen less capable?

It’s to me a decision that is not only baffling, but also immensely frustrating. With iOS 14, Apple has finally given me the kind of home screen experience I’ve been wanting for literally years. If I could do the same on the iPad, I’d be delighted.

For example, I have one screen on my iPad for travel. It’s where I keep my airline and hotel apps, translation app, flight tracker, airport apps, and so on. This is the screen I have selected by default while traveling. It would be the perfect place for a widget with live info relevant to my journey: live transit status to the airport, live info for my flight, live weather at my destination, and so on. But nope, I can’t put them there.

I’m not alone in this view – see these threads, for example.

Despite Craig Federighi telling us that, of course, the iPad also gets all the iOS 14 features, it seems it doesn’t.

Some have suggested it’s coming in a later build. I very much hope that’s the case. If this is not already the plan, Apple, please make it so.

Do you agree? Please take our poll and share your views in the comments.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

MacStadium macOS VM

Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel

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!

Ben Lovejoy's favorite gear