I’m always amazed by the cool ideas developers come up with. Especially when they take a built-in feature of iOS and re-imagine it. The eighth iteration of Apple’s operating system introduced widgets to the Today Screen. Since then, we’ve seen some pretty cool use cases for widgets. You can check out our favorite Today Screen widgets here. But one we haven’t seen up till now is a browser widget. Granted, you don’t really need a browser in your Today Screen. It would probably be more hassle using than its worth. But how about having the ability to check a webpage periodically? Now that could be handy.
Glimpse is a neat widget that does just that. You can set a webpage to view in your Today Screen. Why would you want to do that? Well, imagine wanting to check for changes to a page. This could show you the latest stories on a news site. Or you could check your amazon product page for a price change. Or just visit any website that changes often.
Glimpse has a clean user interface that easily allows you to add multiple sites to track. Simply tap the + icon in the upper right to enter a URL and name it. Then you’ll be shown a preview of the page. I think the coolest part of Glimpse is the ability to navigate to any part of the page you’re on. That means you can scroll over to the precise area of the page you want to track. Once you pick the area of interest, tap done and you’ll now have that page available on your Today Screen. Note that Apple restricts the maximum size of widgets. So you may not be able to view the full length of the desired page. The larger your iPhone or iPad screen, the more you’ll be able to see in the widget. On my iPhone 5S, I was not able to view enough of some sites I wanted to track. But on my iPad, everything fits like I want it to.
To view your Glimpse widget, slide down from the top of your iPhone or iPad screen. This will bring up Notification Center and your Today Screen. There you will see all your enabled widgets. For more info on how to use Today Screen widgets, see this article. In the Glimpse widget, you can tab through your saved pages. If you don’t currently have an internet connection, you’ll only be able to see the last update. Taping on the widget allows you to refresh it or jump to the full website in Safari.
If you have an Apple Watch, Glimpse even lets you check webpages there. You can set up these sites the same way as you would those for widgets. Of course the screen is a lot smaller so Glimpse gives you a smaller preview box to work with. I had a lot of fun with the Apple Watch app which gave me little snapshots of products I’m interested in.
One last thing that I love about Glimpse is the ability to create “glimpses” right from Safari using the built-in extension. This works for both the iPhone and iPad widgets or Apple Watch app. When you’re on the page you want, tap the Share icon. Then scroll over to the Glimpse extension (you might need to enable it, more on that here). The familiar preview window will appear and let you pick the spot you want. Tap done, and you’re all set.
Glimpse definitely serves a specific purpose and not everybody will have a use for it. But if you have the need to view a webpage in an iPhone widget, Glimpse is the app you’ll want. The developer covered all the bases by providing a simple way to get a glimpse of any website on your Today Screen or Apple Watch.