The shutdown of the third-party Reddit app, Apollo, hasn’t stopped developer Christian Selig from continuing to publish iOS apps. Instead, he’s moved on to an Apollo spin-off app called Pixel Pals, which puts cute little virtual pets on top of your iPhone’s Dynamic Island — that is, the black bar at the top of the screen surrounding the camera hardware. But Pixel Pals is shaping up to be more than just a virtual pets toy. The app has also been rolling out an eclectic collection of iOS widgets, ranging from interactive games to a playable fidget spinner to transparent widgets for iPhone customization and more.
Today, Selig is adding one more to the list — a language-learning widget that puts vocabulary from a variety of languages on your Home Screen.
At launch, the widget supports French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, German, Arabic, Korean, Hindi, and…Canadian? The latter will teach you Canadian slang and common words, with a bit of humor. For example, “sorry” means “hello,” the widget informs you.
The language learning widget could have been bundled as a separate app, given it has nothing to do with virtual pets or games. In fact, many of the widgets could have been broken out of the main app into dedicated apps of their own. But Selig explained, in a post on X, he’s been having fun with the interactive widgets in Pixel Pals, so he added the latest feature there. That way, users can get all the widgets in one download, he said.
The idea isn’t just a way for Selig to delight his apps’ users with extra goodies –it’s also an interesting and fairly successful strategy to court iOS subscriptions. With the release of Pixel Pals 2.0 last month, which added more social networking features for the pixelated pets, users could also choose to upgrade to unlock more pets and other features for $1.99 per month or $14.99 per year.
Along with the interactive widgets — like those for your virtual pets and interactive games — the app includes its own versions of standard iOS widgets, like calendar, clock, battery percentage, time, countdown, weather, forecasts, and quotes widgets in different sizes that also often feature the virtual pets. There are also crazy variations of these, like a “magic clock” that spells out “It is five to four,” for example, in a hidden word scramble; an “emoji clock” that shows the time using a variety of emojis to form the numbers; and a friendly “Jarvis” widget that includes a greeting alongside the date and time and various metrics, like the battery percentage and storage space.
The strategy to bundle widgets into an all-in-one app appears to be working. Though Pixel Pals is only a year old, Selig says the app has just under 50,000 subscribers at present. Though details like the split between monthly and yearly subscribers and churn rate will vary, that’s still a healthy income for an indie developer.
The language widget is included with the updated version of the iOS app, out today.