Widgets can display essential information from an app right on your iPhone’s lock screen, but there’s an even bigger reason you should use them: quick access to your most-used apps.
With iOS 16, you can add one widget above the time on the lock screen and up to four smaller ones below the time. And you can do this for each of your lock screen wallpapers. So you can have app details on all your lock screens at a glance, matching like-minded widgets with your wallpaper themes and purposes.
When you have a set of lock screen widgets, tapping it will open the app on your iPhone, most likely directly to whatever the widget displays. For example, when you add a symbol widget for the Stocks app, tap it to open Stocks directly on the stock you assigned.
It’s part of the answer for quick access to your favorite apps. But what if you want the app to open on its homepage instead of a specific view? Some apps might give you widgets that do this, but most don’t, and chances are the app you want a shortcut to doesn’t even support lock screen widgets. .
Add lock screen shortcuts for any app
Unfortunately, Apple didn’t create any lock screen widgets for its Shortcuts app, which would probably be the best solution for opening apps from your lock screen. In the meantime, there are third-party apps that can fill the void. One of them is Launchify.
Although Launchify is free to install, it requires you to subscribe to a paid monthly or yearly plan. However, the app lets you create two app shortcuts for the lock screen for free. Similar apps may cost more, while others may give you more free app shortcut widgets. Here are some alternatives you can check out:
- LockFlow Lock Screen Launcher: No limit on the number of free app shortcut widgets you can create, and you can even create a widget for a folder containing any number of app shortcuts. However, it costs $2.99 per month, $9.99 per year, or $32.99 one time to unlock other features, like opening and selecting apps from a folder directly on the lock screen. The icons it automatically assigns to apps are always disabled, and you can only swap them with other symbols or image downloads.
- Best Widgets: There doesn’t seem to be a limit on free app shortcut widgets, and there are several different styles to choose from. However, you are stuck using icon designs from Top Widgets. The interface is quite cluttered, so it’s visually difficult to find and choose something, and there are ads. But you can remove ads and unlock other features for $1.49 per month, $3.49 per quarter, or $8.49 per year.
- Lock Launcher – Screen Widget: Like Launchify, you’re limited to two app shortcut widgets before you have to pay. There are more customization options for the design of the widget and you can use URL schemes to open unsupported apps for your two free app shortcuts. The pro version of the app, which unlocks everything, costs $4.99 one time, so there’s no subscription. Currently it is on sale for $0.99.
- Widget: Lock Screen Widget: As with Top Widgets, there doesn’t seem to be a limit on free app shortcut widgets. It chooses a user-submitted icon for you, but you can change it to a symbol. The interface is also quite cluttered and very similar in design to Top Widgets, so it’s visually difficult to find and choose something, and there are ads. You can remove ads and unlock other features for $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year, and there’s a three-day free trial.
- widgetsmith: If you can get past the clunky and confusing UI, you can probably add as many free app shortcut widgets as you want, but you need to know the URL scheme because it doesn’t offer any pre-populated options. You can choose from your own photos, symbols or a predefined theme. Some themes require the pro version for $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. There are also ads which the pro version removes.
- ScreenKit – Widget, Themes, Icon: As seems to be the norm, the user interface is quite confusing to use. Free app shortcut widgets seem endless, but you are limited in their designs. A nice feature, however, allows you to use GIFs. ScreenKit charges for unlocking various themes, ranging from $2.99 once to $49.99 per year.
While steps 1-3 below on designing your widgets will be different from app to app, steps 4-7 will be very similar when it comes to adding them to your lock screen. However, most of them use URL schemes to open apps, and you can submit your own if you can’t find one for your app; Visit my URL scheme listings for Apple apps and third-party apps to explore.
Step 1: Choose an app
In Launchify, tap the plus sign (+) in app tabs, then choose “App”. You’ll then see the full list of apps supported by Launchify, and you can use the search tool to find your app faster. Launchify uses URL schemes to launch apps, so any app that calls itself a scheme name will work.
Your application is not listed? You can tap “Add app” to add one yourself, but this is a premium feature. If you don’t mind, visit my lists of URL schemes for Apple apps and third-party apps to find the app you want.
Step 2: Assign an icon
After selecting a URL string for the desired app, tap “Add icon” and choose a way to add an image. To keep the same app icon, choose “App” from the menu, find the app and select the icon, which is pulled directly from the App Store. You can also upload your own image, choose an icon from Apple’s SF Symbol Library, or choose an image from Launchify’s icon pack.
When done, hit “Save” and you’re ready to add Launchify’s widget.
Step 3: Repeat for other apps (optional)
Before adding Launchify’s widget, remember that Launchify only allows two free app shortcuts before you have to pay for a subscription. So if you want a second app icon on your lock screen, repeat steps 1 and 2 above. If you want more than two, Launchify charges $0.99 per month or $7.99 per year.
Step 4: Open the lock screen editor
To add a lock screen widget, long press on the lock screen to open the lock screen picker. Note that you need to authenticate before the lock screen picker opens. Then choose the appropriate lock screen if you have more than one. Then choose “Customize” below and open the lock screen editor.
Step 5: Add the Launchify Widget
Tapping the spot above the time lets you add a small widget, but Launchify doesn’t support that space. Instead, tap the widget row below the time, then choose Launchify from the list. In the preview, tap or drag the widget into place to add it to the bottom row of the widget. The Launchify widget should be empty because you haven’t assigned an app yet.
Step 6: Assign your app to the widget
Tap the blank Launchify widget to show the app switcher. The app shortcuts you created in steps 1-3 will show up here. Select the one you want, and its icon will replace the empty one. Tap “Done” to finish, then select the lock screen to load it.
Step 7: Launch your app from the lock screen
Back on the lock screen, tap one of the app shortcut widgets you added with Launchify to open the app. Due to iOS 16 security features, the Launchify app will first open with a prompt telling you that Launchify wants to open the app you chose via the URL scheme. Press “Open” to continue.
Going forward, you won’t have to allow Launchify to open that particular app. However, the security prompt will appear every time you open a new app with Launchify.
Once the assigned app is open, you will notice that Launchify is listed on the top left as a back to previous app button. Your iPhone will show this back button whenever you open an app from Launchify’s Lock Screen widget because it technically uses the Launchify app to call the URL scheme to switch to the assigned app. This is an iOS feature that cannot be disabled.
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