During the first few months of the pandemic in 2020 when the UK was in lockdown, I decided to finally follow through with some plans for the house to help make some appliances easier to manage.
The first easy win in this was smart lights. Over a weekend, I replaced every light that we used across the house with a smart one that would be available to manage over Apple's Home app, or Amazon's Alexa as a way to command the lights in the living room.
But while Apple's Home app, in which you can manage all of your lights and other smart home appliances, was easy enough to use, it's never had widgets, which has always baffled me.
Widgets first arrived in iOS 14 back in 2020, but it's taken an innovative app called Home Widget (opens in new tab) to lessen my annoyance with the lack of a Home one. Now, I've got a bunch of widgets on my home screen for my lights, without opening a single app.
Let there be (smart) light
Available for free, alongside an in-app purchase of $8.99 / £8.99 / AU$10.99 to let you create an unlimited amount of widgets from the three you can create, the app will monitor every smart appliance that's connected to your iPhone, and these will show in the app.
After this, you can create different panels for the lights or other appliances in your home, alongside choosing the colors, icons, and more.
Once you're done, you can place them on your iPhone or iPad home screen. Pressing one of these will either switch on or off what you've selected, without having to go into an app like Apple's Home.
Yes, this may sound very obvious to those who don't have smart lights in their home that manage them through an iPhone, but after two years of using the Home app, it's always felt off that a tentpole iOS feature that Apple has been showcasing since 2020, is nowhere to be found in its own Home app.
But Home Widget does it well, especially in how easy it is to manage your widgets. There's also a nice touch of the app showing all the widgets you've made on its launch screen, in a Tetris layout.
The app recently updated to 1.2, which brings support for HomeKit cameras, battery sensors, the color of your lights, and more.
Regardless of whether Apple brings widgets to its Home app in the future, perhaps at WWDC 2022, Home Widget is already a favorite and scratches a big itch that I've had for my house for two years.