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Apple surpasses Android in customization as fanboys bring out decade-old failed concepts

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The big new feature in iOS 16 is lock screen widgets: real, usable, customizable widgets that work on everything from a 5-year-old iPhone 8 to the latest iPhone 13 series.

And now a bunch of bloggers are claiming that Apple “stable” this feature of android.

However, accepting this premise is a very, very slippery slope for… Android itself! The reality is that by 2022, no major Android phone will support lockscreen 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 it doesn’t really exist natively on Android.

Google had widgets on the lock screen… but then removed the feature!

See, Google had native widgets for the lock screen… in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean! We’d forgive you if you don’t remember those times (we hardly), but that was exactly 10 years ago with devices like the Nexus 4 and Nexus 7 in vogue at the time.

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

Does this mean it is absolutely impossible to get lock screen widgets on Android? Technical: no, it is actually still possible. To do that, however, you have to go through some serious hoops. And let’s face it, what percent of Android users actually use widgets on the lock screen right now? I can bet it’s less than 1%! But why is this feature that Android users are so quick to invent about… missing in action on most users’ phones right now?

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

A quick attempt at using lockscreen widgets will take you to one of two places. If you’re one of the few who knows about Samsung’s powerful user tools, you probably download the Samsung-made Good Lock app that unlocks all kinds of power moves. For most other phones you will end up in the Google Play Store. This is exactly what I was looking for “screen lock widget” app for the Pixel 5a I have as a backup phone. The Play Store gave me dozens of results, but most of the apps seemed old and had a relatively small audience. I’ve tried using the most popular one, KLCK, probably short for Kustom Lock Screen, an app with 100K+ downloads. 100K+ wasn’t a comforting number, and it certainly isn’t the mass adoption you’d expect to see on an app that Apple is said to have. “stable” from android but i tried.

Trying to use KLCK was an exercise in frustration. The app itself is free, but if you want any sort of useful presets you’ll have to buy them separately (they cost $1-$2 each), and users may also need the $6 Pro Key app. But even a quick glance at the app in the Play Store and you notice that the screenshots showing its functionality appeared to have been captured on a device running…Android 7?! I may not get the exact version right, but it’s in that ballpark and yes, that’s a terribly outdated version of Android. Widgets looked equally outdated.

Here’s a review of the Circles widget for the Kustom app on the Google Play Store: “I will never understand how to use the 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: “Have been using this app for about a year now. If I could give it negative stars I would. The app is complete junk. Yes, it’s customizable, but the app is so incredibly clunky at best.”

In one of the responses to customer complaints, the app developer says: “I know [about the issues]† And I’m working on a new UI that will gradually make this better. It will take time, however, as the team is microscopic.”

Claiming that Apple stole THIS from Android is not only absurd, it’s laughable.

It’s as valid a comparison as saying that the original iPhone is the… LG Prada! Yes, some people 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 one can only laugh at such a comparison, it sounds really crazy. Yet some people still run with titles like LG has once surpassed the iPhone…

Moral of the story: we should demand better from everyone!

So going back to my original point, we now have something similar going on with iOS 16 and the new widgets on the lock screen. Yes, technically you had something similar on Android before, but it was never as powerful nor as intuitive as it is now on iOS. Not to mention that Android never had powerful features like the ability to switch between lock screens with just a few swipes and associate each of those custom lock screens with a particular focus mode.

It is this unprecedented level of customization that Apple offers natively in a highly accessible format that anyone can use versus an obscure app on Android that uses 6 year old design concepts and is run by one or a few enthusiastic developers. So my plea here is to not just be blind defenders of one ecosystem and defend it anyway. This is what fanboys do. In this case, let’s not be afraid to actually hold Google accountable instead!

Yes, in this case it’s clearly Google and Android that now feel like they need to catch up, not the other way around. And even if Google first came up with a vague idea about lock screen widgets a decade ago, let’s not forget that that same Google turned its back on that idea and abandoned that idea shortly after.

Of course, the process has to go both ways. In quite a few other aspects, Apple deserves criticism for lagging behind Android. However, let’s not close our eyes and defend our favorite brand, even if the best thing we can do to grow it is… give it some warmth!

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