One of iOS 14’s best new features is the ability to add and stack widgets on your home screen, so you can check in with your favorite apps without having to open them. Apple takes the concept one step further with “Smart Stacks”, where iOS smartly stacks widgets together based on how you use your iPhone.
So what differentiates Smart Stacks from manually created widget stacks? In fact, not much. Both types of stacks are fully customizable – you can add, edit, sort and delete individual widgets in the stack – and they can both rotate intelligently through your widget list with a feature called “Smart Rotate”;.
What’s unique about Smart Stacks is that when you add a Smart Stack to your home screen, iOS automatically selects widgets that fill that stack for you based on your iPhone usage. For example, if you’re always getting the latest news, looking for rain, and bothering with your favorite tunes, expect your Smart Stack to include news, weather, and Apple Music.
Once the stack has been added, it basically becomes a regular stack. Your iPhone does not add or remove widgets on its own from the stack, so the apps it started with will always be there. Instead, it is up to you what to do with the stack manually. Still, if you are looking for a quick way to create a stack of widgets that are relevant to you, a Smart Stack is the way to go.
Step 1: Choose a smart stack size
To start, activate the home screen editor. The fastest way to do this in iOS 14 is to long press an empty space on the home screen until the apps jiggle. From here, tap the (+) icon at the top left, which takes you to the widget gallery. Type “smart” in the search field or just scroll down and find “Smart Stack” and then select it.
Once you tap it, iOS gives you a summary of how the feature works. Below that summary, you will find your stack options: small, medium and large. The small stack takes up four icons for screen properties (2 of 2), the medium stack takes up eight icon spaces (2 of 4) and the large one fills up 16 large (4 of 4).
Step 2: Add Smart Stack to your home screen
There are a couple of ways to add your selected Smart Stack size to the Home screen. First, long press on the widget preview and drag and drop it to the exact location you want it. Second, tap “(+) Add widget”, and iOS automatically adds the widget to the top of the current home screen.
In our tests, iOS adds seven widgets to each Smart Stack. However, your mileage may vary depending on your use. We’ve always seen it at seven o’clock, but we can not say for sure if that is or will always be the case.
Step 3: View and customize your smart stack
From here, you can browse through the various widgets in your Smart Stack, and the order in which they appear will change based on the time of day, what activities you usually perform at that time, and so on. Basically, if iOS thinks you want specific information when viewing Smart Stack, it will show you it first.
If you are happy with the widgets that iOS chose for you, you can leave the stack completely. But if you want to add, sort or delete any of the stacked widgets, you can. To add some, drag and drop widgets that are the same size on top of the stack.
To make other adjustments, long press on the stack and select “Edit Stack” from the quick actions. Here you can delete widgets by left swiping them completely or briefly swiping to the left and pressing “Delete”. You can also drag each to a different location in the list to rearrange them, but if it’s a Smart Stack, it does not matter. To turn it into a “stupid” stack, turn off “Smart Rotate”. All of these options are the same for regular stacks.
By default, all stacks you create manually are “Smart Stacks”, which means they always have “Smart Rotate” enabled. Be sure to disable “Smart Rotate” to prevent the widgets from moving on you every time.
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