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With WidgetKit developers can code once for iOS 16's Lock Screen and Apple Watch

iOS 16 Home App Widget
iOS 16 Home App Widget (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple announced WidgetKit as part of the WWDC22 opening keynote yesterday.
  • Developers will be able to use WidgetKit to create complications and widgets using one framework.
  • The iOS 16 and watchOS 9 updates will ship this fall.

With the release of Apple's next generation of iPhone and Apple Watch software, Apple will give developers the ability to use WidgetKit — a new framework that will allow them to code once for both the iPhone Lock Screen and Apple Watch complications.

The WWDC22 unveiling of iOS 16 brought with it the addition of new widgets to the Lock Screen and they're very similar to the complications that we're used to on devices like Apple Watch Series 7, the best Apple Watch available today. With that in mind, Apple has announced WidgetKit to allow developers to create these things just once and then deploy them in two places — in your pocket and on your wrist. And yes, iPadOS 16 support is included, too.

Easily build widgets and make them available in iOS, iPadOS, and macOS using the WidgetKit framework and the widget API for SwiftUI. Now you can use WidgetKit to create widgets for the iPhone Lock Screen, as well as complications in watchOS. And later this year, you can create Live Activities to deliver real-time updates.

Apple Watch

Apple Watch (Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe / iMore)

Apple says that WidgetKit is also what developers will use to create the new Live Activities that will allow them to put bigger blocks of information on our Lock Screens. Think of Live Activities as a large widget, but one that is live and can be updated by the app that powers it. Apple used the example of a Live Activity showing how close an Uber ride is, or a scorecard from a big game. All of that's powered by WidgetKit, although the Live Activities portion won't be ready until "later this year." Expect that to be a point release after iOS 16 ships in or around September.

Developers keen to learn more about WidgetKit can do so over on Apple's developer website with videos also available to help explain how the framework functions.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.