Lock Screen widgets were only recently available on Android... 10 years ago!  - Apple overtakes Android in customization as fanboys conjure up failed decade-old concepts

Apple overtakes Android in customization as fanboys conjure up decade-old failed concepts

The great novelty of iOS 16 is all about lock screen widgets: real customizable and actionable widgets that work on everything from a 5-year-old iPhone 8 to the latest iPhone 13 series.

And now a bunch of bloggers claim that Apple “has stolen” this feature of Android.

However, accepting this premise is a very, very slippery slope for… Android itself! The reality is that in 2022, no major Android phone supports lock screen widgets in a user-friendly way. You don’t have the feature on the flagship Google Pixel, you have very limited customization on Samsung phones, the reality is that it doesn’t really exist natively on Android.

Google used to have lock screen widgets… but then removed the feature!

You see, Google had native lock screen widgets… in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean! We’ll forgive you if you can’t remember that time (we barely remember), but that was exactly 10 years ago with devices like the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 all the rage at that time.

Back then, you could actually add widgets to your lock screen and see information at a glance without unlocking your phone. Unfortunately, Google quickly changed its mind about this feature and it only lasted a short time before the company voluntarily removed the feature from Android and it has been gone in native form ever since.

Does that mean it’s absolutely impossible to get lock screen widgets on Android? Technically: no, in fact it is still possible. However, to do this, you have to go through some serious steps. And let’s be honest, what percentage of Android users currently use lock screen widgets? I can bet you it’s less than 1%! But why is this feature that Android users are so quick to invent… currently missing from most users’ phones?

Lock screen widgets on Android in 2022 are… a mess!

A quick attempt to use lock screen widgets takes you to one of two places. If you’re one of the few who know about Samsung’s advanced user tools, you’ll probably download the Samsung-designed Good Lock app that unlocks all kinds of powerful moves. For most other phones, you’ll end up in the Google Play Store. This is exactly where I looked for a “lock screen widget” app for the Pixel 5a which I have as a backup phone. The Play Store gave me dozens of results, but most of the apps looked old and had a relatively small audience. I tried using the most popular, KLCK, short for Kustom Lock screen probably, an app with over 100,000 downloads. 100K+ wasn’t a reassuring number, and it’s certainly not the massive adoption you’d expect to see on an app that Apple claimed “has stolen” of Android, but I tried.

Trying to use KLCK was an exercise in frustration. The app itself is free, but if you want some sort of usable presets, you have to buy them separately (they cost $1-$2 each), and users may also need the Pro Key app for $6 $. But even a quick glance at the app on the Play Store and you notice that the screenshots showing off its features look like they were captured on a device running… Android 7?! I may not have the exact right version, but it’s at this point and yes, it’s a terribly outdated version of Android. The widgets also seemed outdated.

Here is a review of the Circles widget for the Kustom app on the Google Play Store: “I will never understand how to use KWGT, KLWP apps even after watching the super confusing how-to videos on YouTube.”

And here is the first review of KWGT Kustom Widget Maker app on Google Play Store which has more than 5 million downloads: “I’ve been using this app for about a year now. If I could give it negative stars, I would. The app is complete trash. Yes, it’s customizable, but the app is incredibly clunky at best.

In one of the responses to customer complaints, the app developer states: “I say [about the issues]. And I’m working on a new UI that will slowly improve that. It will take time because the team is microscopic.

To claim that Apple stole THAT from Android isn’t just absurd, it’s laughable.

That’s as valid a comparison as saying that the original iPhone copied the… LG Prada! Yes, some people have said that in the past! In retrospect, the only real similarity is that they have a screen and a rectangular shape, but that’s about it… and we can only laugh at such a comparison, it sounds really crazy. Yet some people still run with titles such as “LG once took the iPhone out of the iPhone”…

The moral of the story: you have to demand better from everyone!

So going back to my starting point, we have something similar happening now with iOS 16 and its new lock screen widgets. Yes, technically you had something very similar earlier on Android, but it was never as powerful, nor as intuitive as you have now on iOS. Not to mention that Android has never had such powerful features as the ability to switch between lock screens with just a few swipes and to tie each of those custom lock screens to a particular Focus mode.

It’s this unprecedented level of customization that Apple natively delivers in a hugely accessible format that anyone can use versus an obscure app on Android that uses 6-year-old design concepts and is managed by one or a few passionate developers. here, it’s not just about being blind defenders of an ecosystem and defending it no matter what. That’s what fanboys do. Instead, in this case, let’s not be afraid to hold Google accountable!

Yes, in this case it is clearly Google and Android who now feel compelled to catch up, and not the other way around. And even though Google was the first to come up with a vague idea about lock screen widgets a decade ago, let’s not forget that same Google turned its back and abandoned the idea soon after.

This process should go 2 ways of course. In so many other ways, it’s Apple that deserves criticism for falling behind Android. Let’s not close our eyes and defend our favorite brand, even if the best we can do to help it grow is to… give it some warmth!

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