One of the biggest differences between iOS and Android has always been customization. Google’s mobile operating system gives more control over how the software looks and feels, while Apple limits these changes in the name of consistency and usability. But with the launch of iOS 14 last week, iPhone and iPad owners are suddenly discovering how to make their phones and tablets look and feel really different.
For example, search for “# ios14” or “# ios14homescreen” on Twitter, and you’ll see hundreds of examples of theme layouts that combine custom apps, wallpapers, and widgets. (Be careful though, as a couple of results for these searches are very much NSFW.) Across TikTok and YouTube, people are also displaying custom home screens and layouts.
Many have themes around pop culture phenomena such as Animal crossing, Steven universe, Harry Potter, Minecraft, and BTS, while others focus on a single aesthetic, such as line drawings or neon icons. Some even recreate older user interfaces, such as ripping off PlayStation 2’s memory card screen or making iOS 14 look like iOS 6. Overall, it’s the kind of beautiful visual chaos you usually associate with custom PC themes or Winamp. leather. .
Why is this happening now? This is partly due to the launch of iOS 14, which provided the ability to add widgets to its home screen. Widgets are typically used to add quick access functionality to your home screen, so you can see information about reminders, weather, or calendar appointments at a glance. But you can also use them to display the image you choose, which has led users to turn them into picture frames for their digital front rooms. You can also, with the right app, customize the look of the standard widgets.
The other customization options that users use are much older. Choosing your own wallpaper is obviously an option that has been around for decades, but creating custom app icons was only made possible by Apple’s shortcuts. This was first introduced in 2018 in iOS 12 and allows you to automate certain actions in iOS. People have been using shortcuts to create custom app icons for several years, but it seems with the launch of iOS 14 and the advent of widgets, many people are discovering this feature again.
Creating your own home screen is simple but time consuming. The most important thing you need is the actual images: a custom background image and associated icon pack. Some designers already share these in easy-to-load packages (as with Animal crossing example above) but a little Googling usually gives you what you need.
For the Windows 98 layout I made for the top image of this article (inspired by this tweet), I found all the wallpapers and app icons I needed through a few quick searches. Although it must be said that it was a total pain to take all these assets in shape, including staining in the background of the transparent PNG icons, and took at least an hour. Definitely go for ready-made packaging if you can.
To add custom widgets to your home screen, you need to download an app called Widgetsmith. Once you have downloaded it, just open the app and click to create the widget size you choose. You can then customize standard iOS widgets like the clock and calendar with different fonts and colors, or create a widget that displays a static image. Once you have created your widget, just go to your home screen, long press on the screen to display the customization options, and then click the + sign at the top left of the screen to add a widget. Scroll down to find your widgetsmith creations.
Finally, to add custom app icons, you need to download Apple’s shortcut app. Once you have it, open it and click on the + sign at the top right to create a new app. Then go> Add Action> Scripts> Open App> Select and select the app you want to customize. Once you have done that, click on “Next” at the top right, name the app and click Done.
To customize the icon and add it to your Home screen, click the three-point menu next to the shortcut action you just created, and then click the three-point menu again, and then select “Add to Home Screen.” Then click on the icon under the “Home screen name and icon” box and select the image you want to use from your camera roll. Few! Completely clear.
Now you have an app with a custom icon, but there is a very annoying warning: every time you click on an app, it first jumps to the shortcut app and then to your app of your choice. This means that there is a slight delay each time you open an app, but who said it was easy to get the #aesthetics you chose? But if you know a way to get around this, please let us know in the comments – and share all the creations that you have been inspired to make yourself!