Today, Google updated its application for the Gmail email service designed for iPhone and iPad devices, introducing a new mini-tool that can be added to the Today center with other mini-tools that can be added to the home screen within the iPhone.
The Gmail widget can be used to search within the email service application, create a new email, or view unread emails.
The widget provides shortcuts for these tasks only, does not list sensitive email information, and cannot be assigned to other functions.
But it might not be the kind of Gmail widget you might have been hoping for, as there is no real preview of inbox content, and no possibility to sort mail by archiving or deleting without opening the app, or any way to read an incoming message.
The most interactive component is a simple “unread” counter, something the app icon has been capable of for years.
Part of the blame lies with Google, as other email apps have created more powerful widgets, but the bulk of the blame lies with Apple, with its stringent restrictions on what iOS widgets can do.
Apple’s widgets are designed to be non-interactive, which is why you cannot select to-do list items in the reminder tool or see why Spotify widgets or Apple Music mini-tools do not provide play and pause controls.
As the company’s developer guidelines state: The gadgets provide read-only information, and they don’t support interactive elements, such as scrolling elements or keys.
Apple offers an option for developers to allow widgets to keep them updated periodically in the background, but it is far from allowing interactive elements.
Apple could relax its restrictions on what it allows developers to do with widgets in future versions of iOS.
IOS 14 marks the first appearance of this feature, but if the company hasn’t completely changed course about the kind of functionality it envisions providing the widgets, it looks like users will be stuck with these limited widgets for the foreseeable future.