A Guide to iPadOS 15 Widgets and Home Screen Layout Customization

Apple announced the 15th gen iPadOS, and it’s looking to bring in some of the most requested features to the iPad. In addition, the ability to customize your home screen and widgets is looking to compete with Android levels of freedom, and there’s a lot more that makes the new update a serious contender for the best iPadOS version to date.

We’ve got the developer beta ready and tested all the new features coming with the stable update. However, do note that some of this might change with future releases. So, let’s get started with making your home screen as customized and beautiful as ever.

iPadOS 15: home screen refresh with new widgets

iPadOS 15 brings a lot of changes and updates to features that were introduced in iPadOS 14. Some of the features are updates to older components, and some are entirely new that change the way you interact with your iPad home screen and other UI elements.

Newer Widgets – iPadOS 15 brings many new Widgets and an entirely new UI that helps you manage all the app widgets. There are five brand new widgets – App Store, Find My, Game Centre, Main and Contacts widgets that allow you to browse through the apps and perform different operations quickly. Most widgets are also interactable and will enable you to stack them with other same-sized widgets for quick access and a clutter-free experience.

Widget Stack – Widget Stack is a new introduction to the iPad OS widget system, and it allows you to club in similar sized widgets from various apps together, save a lot of space on the home screen and make it look a whole lot cleaner, and provide better functionality throughout the experience. For example, you can just drag and drop one widget on another, creating a stack. You can scroll up and down on the widget stack to access different widgets and edit the stack to show the primary widget with other secondary widgets.

App Library – Finally, App Library has been ported over from the iPhone to the iPad, and it makes your life a whole lot easier. You can change and edit your home screen pages and even entirely remove them. All your apps would be automatically adjusted in the App Library, and you can access it straight through your dock. App Library can also be accessed by swiping to the end of the home screen, and you can also disable the dock button in the settings for a cleaner dock interface.

Quick Notes – The bottom right section of the iPad now houses a new feature that changes how you note down stuff and add in a lot of information quickly. You can drag it in from the bottom right to bring in a quick note area that allows you to note and add pictures or to-do lists. The quick notes are a powerful feature-rich system and can also house images and notes straight from a website or an app, and oh, and it works perfectly with Apple Pencil.

Files and Folders – The widget system has a new file widget. It is much more powerful and allows you to place in multiple folder destinations or locations right to your home screen. It also has a powerful progress bar that helps track downloads and other transfers and can be a great way to minimize search time for data or different files. The widget is also interactive, so you can add in more or remove files straight through the home screen.

Interactive iPad Widgets – Most widgets are now interactive and present you with a variety of options. For example, you can use the clock widget to set alarms and timers while getting the weather or music widget to look at the weather condition or listen to music. This makes the widget system powerful and feature-rich and enables other third-party developers to add quick access functionality through their widgets.

How to add or remove widgets on an iPad?

Freely moving around the home screen and customizing it as you like was a feature that was greatly anticipated to come with the new update and Apple delivered. You can freely reposition apps and widgets on your iPad now, and you can follow the steps below to add or remove widgets on your device.

Adding Widgets to the Home Screen:

  • Hold on to any blank spot on your iPad Home screen.
  • Tap on ‘+’ at the top left of the screen.
  • Choose the widgets from a variety of sizes (Larger sizes are now available).
  • Now add it to the home screen and organize it according it to your preference.

Removing Widgets from the Home Screen:

  • Hold on to a widget and wait for a menu to pop up.
  • Click on the ‘x’ button to remove the widget.

How to customize your iPad home screen layout?

iPad home screen is not limited by anything now, and you can have a clean and clutter-free experience with just a small time investment. Firstly, you can start from the basics and adjust the icons and widgets according to your preferences. Secondly, you can change your dock and use App Library. Finally, you can use different apps to customize your icons and change shortcuts with ease.

Shortcuts help you make quick access shortcuts for different settings, apps and files and use it straight from the home screen, and if you have the magic keyboard, you can use the ‘Command’ button to access a variety of pre-built shortcuts and commands for your iPad. You can also customize the layout and choose which pages you want to keep or delete. This makes organizing a clean experience much more seamless and allows for some great minimal screen options.

[ Further reading: iPad’s Magic Keyboard Walkthrough and Shortcuts ]

The process for customizing your home screen layout:

  • Hold down on any app or an empty area until all the apps start to jiggle.
  • Now you can freely move your apps and widgets across screens.
  • You can also delete pages and make a primary home screen page.

Besides, here are two useful apps that make iPad home screen customization a piece of cake

1. Customize your icons and shortcuts – Iconboard

Iconboard is a fantastic app available for your iPad, and it helps you use custom icon packs for all your downloaded apps. You can even customize the app font or remove the names for an overall cleaner look. We use the two icon packs listed below to create a multi look home screen that looks amazing.

These two icon packs are very feature-rich and also have built-in support for shortcut customization, which helps you bring the look together and quickly have a unique personalized home screen for your device. We’ll also be looking at some layouts below that take full advantage of the brilliant icon packs.

2. Customize your Widgets – WidgetSmith

Widgets can also be customized now, and you can also make custom widgets for personal use. However, you would need an app, and WidgetSmith is the best app for the job. It delivers an excellent user experience and allows free editing for a lot of widgets.

We recommend you download the app and use its unique functionality to create personalized and unique widgets associated with your work and other similar quick access feature with the help of shortcuts and other apps to fit your design scheme. Follow the layout inspirations below to use WidgetSmith at its best.

Creative iPad home screen layouts inspiration

There are a lot of modern home screen layouts which will inspire you to make your personalized home screen layout a reality, and here are some examples.

Sukikano’s iPadOS 15 layout – Beginner Friendly Home Screen

This layout is a classic take on iPad home screen design and uses the upcoming reposition ability of iPadOS 15 to change and add widgets over the top section of the screen and add all the most used apps on the bottom.

The dock also houses some of the most used apps and the app library icon to manage all your apps on a secondary screen. Finally, he uses the files widget to access all the most used files quickly and folders and other informational widgets to round off the entire experience.

v-23’s Desktop Layout – Easy Folder Management

This modern layout takes full advantage of the new features and widgets that iPadOS 15 brings and uses the reposition ability to store all the folders and files on a single screen. It can contain your most-used apps on the dock, and the App Library icon and the home screen houses all the widgets.

The files widget helps you manage and quickly access all your files and folders, and the shortcuts widget manages all your shortcuts on a single page. Finally, the mail widget collects and shows all your inbox mails, and the weather widget displays the weather forecast for the week.

Protomize’s Developer Setup – Coders Rejoice

The Home Screen setup from Protomize brings a unique take on making a coder and media-friendly space. It has all the essential apps listed on the top and fills the rest of the screen with developer and media apps. It also houses a great organized folder collection that helps bring quick access to multiple similar apps.

The widget on the left features crucial battery information, and the weather widget helps you plan out your day with the knowledge of the surrounding conditions. Finally, the dock houses some essential apps such as Safari and Messages, and it also features quick access to multiple social media apps.

Zack-Shurin’s Widget Setup – Information at Your Fingertips

Zack’s Home Screen Setup relies on a lot of widgets and folders to work the best. He uses it to bring light to multiple quick access widgets to help you stay organized and perform better. In addition, he uses a launcher widget for all his apps and folders to keep rarely used apps organized.

All the widgets range from productivity and data analysis, and it helps him through clean weather, location, and mail widgets. In addition, he also has a crypto widget to help get data on pricing and a quick access note widget.

Lmtlrt’s Monochrome Home Screen Layout – Designer Friendly Approach

This Monochrome setup helps bring a new and unique take on iPad Home Screens. It features dark backgrounds and dark icons that blend well with the entire home screen setup. The dock also uses black icons, and the widgets on the left follow the dark mode approach.

The contrast is impressive, and setting up something like this will take you a lot of time and work. However, apps such as Iconboard and Widget Smith will help you get the desired look and make changes to personalize it.

Marktheperson’s Clean Setup –  Beautiful Aesthetic Layout

This light and colourful approach to home screens is the complete opposite of what we looked at earlier, and the overall aesthetic makes it look like a friendly and intuitive home screen to work with. The background wallpaper contrasts nicely with the app’s icons, and the overall aesthetic blends well with users who want a productivity-centric primarily.

To make something similar to this would require you to have a clean and light wallpaper and an icon set that compliments the background with a playful approach to the home screen. The widget on the left also helps provide you with weather data, and the folders help you manage all your apps on a single page.

Christopher Lawley’s No Compromise Layout – Space Management at its Finest

Christopher has a lovely iPad home screen setup that uses custom icons with the help of Iconboard and widgets from Widget Smith. He also utilizes all the space available on the iPad home screen and adds in apps and shortcuts throughout the screen and the dock.

The widgets are also custom and provide a lot of information from the weather to the battery levels of all his connected devices, and the vast array of apps are all that he uses daily. He uses a black background as the wallpaper to make the icon pop more, and the titles are also removed for an overall cleaner aesthetic. You can follow the video linked above to get more insight into the process of setting up the home screen.

It’s now clear iPadOS 15 widgets bring big changes to the iPad

The new iPad OS update brings in many new features, and it is also promising to be a better OS with a stable release. However, with that said, if you’re a person that likes to edit their home screen for better personalization and personality and updating to the new upcoming version is looking to bring big changes to the iPad ecosystem.

Changing and repositioning an app to add custom icons and widgets, iPadOS 15 is finally becoming functional and beautiful with the new chip and the even newer craze for the best app and widget home screen layout, which rounds off the entire iPad experience and delivers a seamless and unique interface built for you, by you. Taking a look at all the home screen setups, we’re sure that the iPadOS customization options are not bound by creativity. You can also make a brilliant setup for yourself by following the process or videos above for a better-inspired home screen layout that will help you improve productivity and manage all your apps without being cluttered.

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