Why Apple Should Give Us Custom App Icons (but probably never will) according to The Verge people want custom iPhone designs, but Apple is resistant to change. iOS 14 these days has a lot of iPhones looking pretty some with pastel styles ripped right off of Pinterest, others with classy monochrome color schemes and some that look like they’re straight out of Animal crossing or emulating Windows mobile.
Thus, the changes are not some new, radical shift by Apple, but rather a viral wave of enthusiastic users taking advantage of widgets and other tweaks to bring an unprecedented level of customization to the usually rigid Apple-enforced design of the OS.
Nevertheless, it happens that many people have been dying to theme iOS, and as any number of viral videos showing lavishly designed home screens, they’re going to great lengths to do it. This is proof that Apple should continue to trend down this path and also let users have even greater control of how their smartphone looks, though it seems almost impossible that the company ever will.
Why Apple Should Give Us Custom App Icons (but Probably never will)
Users have been clamoring for the ability to customize the iPhone since the very minute Apple first announced the phone. It took them two weeks after the initial iPhone jailbreak in 2007 for the launch of a custom design app known as the summer board. The custom design app allows users to personalize icons, replace the home screen wallpaper, and use new fonts across the OS.
However, to modify the iOS look has always been one of the biggest draws of the jailbreaking community, and remains a popular modification for those willing to mess with iOS to this day. But Apple largely stamped out jailbreaking entirely, instead of meeting that interest.
Newly Added Features
Although since the launch of iOS 14, the demand for custom iPhone styles has skyrocketed, thanks to the newly added widget and a revitalized interest in a shortcut workaround that allows for custom Icons. The two features together can let users create a fully customized iOS experience with a unique look and feel, complete with images, text quotes, and unique matching icons. Thus, provided they’re willing to suffer the limitations of the two features.
None of the options is elegant. The shortcuts method involves using the open app command within the app to create a link to the application on your home screen that comes with a custom icon. But crucially, clicking on the icon causes those apps to ferry users through the shortcuts app, adding a few seconds of lag to each time you open an app because it has to invoke the launched app command.
However, the new app library in iOS 14 does not make theming easier, allowing users to fully hide the original app out of sight without having to delete it.
While personalizing widgets led by apps like Widgwtsmith, give users a blank canvas to add interactive elements to their lock screen, they’re still limited by Apple’s restrictions over size and shape, along with its obsessive labeling that mars the illusion of a perfect style.
So, there’s no reason that Apple was not able to do more here. It’s very easy to imagine Apple allowing more direct app icon replacement, or for users to easily switch between entire themes. Though it could expand widgets to make them more functional or allow users to take more control over the colors and design of overarching UI elements.
Widgets have only given iOS users a taste of the levels of customization that might await them. Thus, they can go the extra mile to get what they want. Each app needs to be converted into a shortcut one after the other in a time-consuming process. There’s no way to just upload an icon or set everything in a batch to match a particular look, as both jailbroken options and Android allow. Unfortunately, Apple seems unlikely to grant it’s level of control and customization.
While Google has allowed Android users and developers near free rein over the look of its software, Apple prides itself specifically on its design. It does not just view the icons and interface of iOS as just a coat of paint over its software. It is an integral part of the design of the phone, as much as the glass and metal. What Apple cares about so much are those icons that it once sued Samsung over copying its overall designs and layout, in a lawsuit that dragged on for seven years. However, no company but Apple makes a video like this to announce their latest software update or spends more time and effort on app icon design.
There’s hope that Apple may grant users requests, by giving them more control. iOS 14 and the recent additions here are the biggest shift in Apple knows best approach that the iPhone has ever seen.