How to Use Google Lock Screen Widgets for iPhone
Google’s lock screen widgets not only make information available at a glance, but also let you access search with just a touch.
In October 2022, Apple made it easier to get information at a glance with two important changes. First, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max added support for an always-on display, selectable with a setting: Settings > Display & Brightness > Always On, swipe to activate. Second, with iOS 16, you can not only customize wallpaper and backgrounds, but also add a limited number of lock screen widgets: lift your phone, then touch and hold the lock screen until until the customization options appear.
See: How to customize your lock screen in iOS 16 (TechRepublic)
The lock screen offers two widget areas, with up to four custom widgets added below the clock and one custom widget selected above the clock. To add a widget, you must first have installed the corresponding application. For example, you need to install the Google Drive app to add the Google Drive widget. Also, you may need to sign in with an account for a widget to work. For example, you need to sign in with a Google account to the Gmail app before a widget can display the number of new emails received.
Here are some of the most useful lock screen widgets available from Google as of mid-October 2022.
Gmail Lock Screen Widgets on iOS
You can choose from three different Gmail widgets, two of which display below the clock (Figure Aon the left) and one available above the clock (Figure Aright):
- The circular widget displays the number of new unread emails you have received.
- The rectangular widget displays the new number of emails for five different categories: Inbox, Social, Promotions, Updates, and Forums.
- Alternatively, if you tap above the clock indicator, you can add an online indicator that shows the number of new emails received.
Google Drive lock screen widgets on iOS
Google Drive’s three lock screen widgets offer different degrees of data:
- The rectangular widget offers suggested files, with the specific item recommended based on your actions (Figure Bleft).
- The circular search widget (Figure Bin the middle), when tapped, opens the Google Drive app and places your cursor in a Google Drive search box, ready for your input.
- The circular star widget (Figure Bon the right), when tapped, opens the Google Drive app and displays all tracked Drive items.
Google Search Lock Screen Widgets on iOS
The Google Search app lock screen options on iPhone provide one-click access to:
- Look for (Figure Cleft) for a standard text search by keyword;
- Voice Search (Figure Cmiddle left) for voice entry of a search;
- Lens (Figure C, middle right) for a search based on camera or image; and
- Goal shortcuts (Figure Cright) for customizable access to three selectable lens functions.
On the Customize screen, after selecting and adding the Lens Shortcuts widgets, you can again directly tap the added widget and then choose whether the widget will provide access to Google Lens’ Translate, Shop, or Homework solving features . For example, if you set the default translation, when you tap the widget, the Google app will automatically open and activate the camera. You can therefore point your camera at the text to be translated into the selected language.
Chrome Lock Screen Widgets on iOS
Interestingly, the Chrome browser includes two lock screen widgets that essentially duplicate the functions available in the Google Search app: Search (Figure E, left) and Voice Search (Figure E, middle right). The other useful lock screen widget available is the private search access (Figure E, middle left). Unlike Google app widgets, which expressly rely on Google search, these Chrome widgets connect to your configured search engine, which on iOS can be adjusted in the Chrome app settings to be Google, Bing, Yahoo , DuckDuckGo or Ecosia.
If you urgently need one-click lock screen access to Chrome Dino game, this is also available (Figure E, right). As of mid-October 2022, however, no Reading List widget is available for people who would rather read saved articles than play a game to pass the time.
Google Calendar lock screen widget on iOS
Although the Google Calendar app does not have a lock screen widget, as of mid-October 2022, Apple offers three different lock screen widget options: a circular widget, a rectangular widget (Figure Fon the left) and an embedded widget that displays above the clock (Figure Fright).
So, to view upcoming events from Google Calendar, connect your Google Calendar to the built-in Apple Calendar. Go to Settings > Calendar > Accounts > Add account > Google, then enter your Google account details. Next, select a Calendar widget. The circular widget displays the least information, as it only shows the time of an upcoming event, while the other two display at least part of the event name.
What is your experience?
If you have an iPhone model that offers always-on display, do you find it useful? What lock screen widgets did you choose to add? Have you filled all available widget spaces on your phone? Or don’t you want or need an always-on phone screen? Which of the Google widgets do you like the most? Are there any other widgets that you highly recommend? Mention me or send me a message on Twitter (@awolber) to let me know how you use lock screen widgets on iPhone.
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