Add Shortcuts to Open Your Favorite Apps Instantly from iPhone’s Lock Screen « iOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks
Widgets can display important information from an app right on your iPhone lock screen, but there’s an even bigger reason you should use them: quick access to the apps you use the most.
Thanks to iOS 16, you can add one widget over time to the lock screen and up to four small ones over time. And you can do that for each of your lock screen backgrounds. So you can keep an eye on app details on all your lock screens, and match like-minded widgets with the themes and focuses of your wallpapers.
Once you have a lock screen widget set, you’ll tap it to open the app on your iPhone, most likely right to what the widget is showing. For example, when you add a symbol widget to the Stocks app, tapping it will open Stocks directly to the stock you’ve assigned.
It’s part of the answer to quick access to your favorite apps. But what if you want the app to open to the home page instead of a specific view? Some apps may give you widgets that do that, but most don’t, and there’s a good chance the app you want a shortcut for doesn’t even support lock screen widgets.
Adds lock screen shortcuts for all apps
Unfortunately, Apple hasn’t created any lock screen widgets for its Shortcuts app, which would probably be the best solution for opening apps from the lock screen. Until that happens, there are third-party apps that can fill the gap. One of them is Launchify.
While Launchify is free to install, it bugs you to subscribe to a paid monthly or yearly plan. However, the app allows you to 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 options 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, such as opening and selecting apps from a folder directly on the lock screen. The icons it automatically assigns to apps are always off, and you can just replace them with other symbols or image uploads.
- Top widgets: There seems to be no limit to free app shortcut widgets, and there are a few different styles to choose from. But you’re stuck using Top Widget’s icon design. The interface is quite cluttered, so it’s visually difficult to find and select anything, 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 widget design, and you can use URL schemes to open apps that aren’t supported for your two free app shortcuts. The app’s pro version, which unlocks everything, costs $4.99 one time, so there’s no subscription. It is currently on sale for $0.99.
- Widgetbar: Widget for lock screen: As with Top Widgets, there seems to be no limit to free app shortcut widgets. It will choose a user-submitted icon for you, but you can change it to a symbol. The interface is also quite cluttered and very similar to Top Widget’s design, so it’s visually difficult to find and select anything, 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 free three-day 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’ll need to know the URL form, as it doesn’t offer any pre-populated options. You can choose from your own images, symbols or a pre-designed theme. Some themes require the pro version for $1.99 per month or $19.99 per year. There are ads that also remove the pro version.
- ScreenKit- Widget, Themes, Icon: As seems to be the norm, the user interface is quite confusing to use. Free app shortcut widgets appear endless, but you are limited in their designs. However, one cool feature allows you to use GIFs. ScreenKit charges to unlock various themes, ranging from $2.99 one time to $49.99 per year.
While steps 1 through 3 below on designing your widgets will differ from app to app, steps 4 through 7 will be very similar when it comes to actually 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 lists of URL schemes for Apple apps and third-party apps to explore.
Step 1: Choose an app
In Launchify, tap the plus sign (+) on the Apps tabs, then select “App.” You will then see the complete 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 assigns itself a scheme name will work.
Don’t see your app listed? You can tap “Add App” to add one yourself, but this is a premium feature. If that doesn’t bother you, you can go to my URL form lists for Apple apps and third-party apps to find the app you want.
Step 2: Assign an icon
After choosing a URL string for the app you want, tap “Add Icon” and choose a way to add an image. To keep the same app icon, select “App” from the menu, search for 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 Symbols library, or choose an image from Launchify’s icon pack.
When you’re done, hit “Save” and you’re ready to add Launchify’s widget.
Step 3: Repeat for more 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 the 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 Lock Screen Editor
To add a lock screen widget, long press on the lock screen to open the lock screen selector. Note that you must authenticate yourself before the lock screen selector opens. Then choose the right lock screen if you have more than one. Then select “Personalize” below it and open the lock screen editor.
Step 5: Add Launchify’s widget
By pressing the point over time, you can add a small widget, but Launchify does not support this space. Instead, tap the widget row below the time, then select Launchify from the list. In the preview, tap or drag the widget into place to add it to the bottom widget row. The Launchify widget should be empty since you haven’t assigned an app yet.
Step 6: Assign your app to the widget
Tap the empty Launchify widget to bring up the app selector. The app shortcuts you created in steps 1 to 3 appear here. Select the one you want and the icon will replace the blank 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’s security features, the Launchify app will first open with a message letting you know that Launchify wants to open the app you selected via the URL form. Press “Open” to continue.
In the future, you won’t need to authorize Launchify again to open the app in question. However, the security message will appear when you open a new app with Launchify.
When the associated app opens, you’ll notice that Launchify is listed at the top left as a back-to-previous app button. Your iPhone will show this back button every time you open an app from Launchify’s lock screen widget since it technically uses the Launchify app to retrieve the URL form to switch to the assigned app. This is an iOS feature that cannot be disabled.
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