8 Control Center Widgets for iPhone that Are Actually Useful

Useful Control Center Widgets Hero

In addition to the app shortcuts embedded in Control Center, iOS offers access to uniquely functional shortcuts through the Control Center menu. While shortcuts like Notes, Calculator, and Voice Memos simply launch the associated app, they’re still useful. But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why. Not every Control Center widget works the same way: some are actually useful. Here are our favorite control center shortcuts for your iPhone that you could be using today.

Control Center widgets can be added and removed in “Settings -> Control Center -> Customize Controls.” The order of the widgets can be changed by dragging and reordering items in the list.

1. Magnifier

Useful Control Center Widgets Magnifying Glass

The Magnifier shortcut instantly opens the camera and zooms in. This gives you a handheld “magnifying glass” by virtue of your iPhone’s camera lens.  The slider adjusts the zoom level. The white shutter button grabs the current view and locks it in place in the viewfinder but does not save the picture to the camera roll.

Useful Control Center Widgets Magnifying Glass Filter

The lock icon locks in the current focus point. The lightning bolt icon turns on the flash, illuminating the scene and helping brighten the corners. The filter button offers several vision-aiding filters, include red-black, green-black, and blue-yellow. These are most useful for people with low vision or who are color blind.

2. Assisted Hearing

Useful Control Center Widgets Live Listen Crop

If you have AirPods or Made For iPhone hearing aids, you can use the Live Listen function to transmit the sounds picked up by your iPhone’s microphone into your hearing aids or AirPods. It’s not just for eavesdropping, either – it allows folks with difficulty hearing to selectively “tune in” to the sounds in their environment by positioning the microphone for optimal capture.

3. Low Power Mode

Useful Control Center Widgets Low Battery

When your iPhone battery drops below twenty percent, an alert will provide the option to turn on Low Power Mode. This mode selectively disables different background functions to reduce battery drain and prolong battery life. If you want to get access to this setting at any time, add the Low Power Mode widget to Control Center.

4. Screen Recording

Useful Control Center Widgets Screen Record

Taping this widget will start the countdown to produce a screen recording. While your iPhone’s screen is being recorded, a red banner will display at the top of the screen. To end the recording, tap the screen recording widget (which is now red) once more or tap the red banner at the top of the screen and then tap “Stop” on the pop-up alert. Force-touch the Screen Recording icon, and you can choose the screen recording’s source and toggle the microphone availability.

5. Apple TV Remote

Useful Control Center Widgets Remote

Control your Apple TV with your iPhone. This widget searches for and connects to Apple TVs on the same Wi-Fi network. This remote might even be more useful than the Siri Remote. It provides the same features but with a better touch interface for the user. There’s a full slide-up keyboard available for text entry, and you can use voice search just like you would in any other app.

6. Flashlight

Useful Control Center Widgets Flaslight

This turns on the flash connected to your iPhone’s camera. Force-press the Control Center widget, and you’ll have an option to set the power level of the flashlight to one of four levels. The flashlight will stay on until turned off. Tap the widget again to turn off the flashlight.

7. Scan QR Codes

Useful Control Center Widgets Qr Code

QR codes might be largely forgotten by everyone but marketers, but that doesn’t mean they’re never worth examining. The QR code widget opens the QR Code Camera and scans any visible QR codes. Once scanned, a notification with the QR code’s contents will appear at the top of the screen. If the QR code contains a text string, the notification provides a shortcut to Safari to search for the term. If the QR code contains contact information, the notification will provide an option to create a new contact with that information. URL QR codes will provide a notification linking to the referenced site, and messaging QR codes can create an email or text message, as appropriate. If you don’t tap the notification, nothing will happen.

8. Additional Tips

Useful Control Center Widgets Camera

Timer: normally, this provides a shortcut to the Timer pane in the Clock app. But if you force-touch the widget, you’ll have a slick option to set a timer directly from Control Center.

Calculator: force-touch to copy the last calculation’s result.

Camera: force-touch to get four shortcut options to access the front camera, video recording, portrait mode, or the QR code camera mode.


The most useful Control Center widgets are those that reveal otherwise hidden functionality. The other Control Center widgets do little more than provide a different icon for an app. They can still be useful for quick-draw applications but only in the right scenario. The widgets above are uniquely useful because they expose new and useful functionality to the user.

Alexander Fox
Alexander Fox

Alexander Fox is a tech and science writer based in Philadelphia, PA with one cat, three Macs and more USB cables than he could ever use.

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