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Hands-On With iOS 14 Widgets, Custom Icons, and Home Screen Setup

MacRumors

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Apple with iOS 14 introduced widgets on the Home Screen, leading to unprecedented levels of customization for the iPhone. Combined with Shortcuts that let you change an app's icon, iOS 14 lets you create a whole new look for your Home Screen.



We've been following along with some of the creative alternative Home Screen designs that MacRumors readers have come up with and thought we'd even try to build out a custom app icon and home screen setup to mimic an old school Mac design. In the video up above, you can check out our superficial attempt at making iOS 14 look like Mac OS X Aqua, arguably one of the most iconic Mac looks.

Widgets are simple enough to use and hundreds of apps are now updating with innovative widgets that you can add to the Today Center and the Home Screen with just a few taps. Widgets run the gamut from weather to fitness to finance and travel, so there's a good chance most of your favorite apps have widgets you can incorporate into a design.

There are also apps that are dedicated just to making different customizable widgets with unique styles and functions, such as Widgetsmith, or Widgeridoo, which are essential to custom designs. We've used Widgetsmith for our OS X setup because it lets us create widgets with custom graphics.

Widgets are simple enough to use, but taking a Home Screen design to the next level requires custom icons, something possible through Apple's Shortcuts app. Custom icons are more pretty than useful, and everything you create a custom icon for will route through the Shortcuts app, which is less than ideal.


We've seen custom designs that have taken hours upon hours to create, and even our own Aqua theme took quite some time to complete, so expect to invest some time if you want a unique iPhone Home Screen. Our setup looks fantastic and is reminiscent of an old-school Mac, but it's worth noting that it's not particularly functional. Most of our widgets are really just for show, so creating a design that's nice looking and useful is a real effort.

If you want to recreate our "Mac OS X Aqua theme" for the iPhone, we've got a link to the assets available here. All the elements, however, are really just a carefully crafted illusion. But we'd love to see a developer build functional Mac OS X Dashboard styled widgets, and for Apple to allow for transparency in icons and widgets.

Wondering how to set it all up? Just check out our how to on using Home Screen widgets and our how to on customizing app icons using Shortcuts.

Have you made an awesome Home Screen setup that you want to share? Post it down below in the comments, and feel free to share your icon skins, wallpapers, and widget setups.

Article Link: Hands-On With iOS 14 Widgets, Custom Icons, and Home Screen Setup
 
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Scottsoapbox

macrumors 6502a
Oct 10, 2014
983
3,772
So far I have 1 non-stock app with a widget out of 497 apps (settings>general>about).

Pretty underwhelming. Maybe give developers more lead time in the future.
 

Kierkegaarden

macrumors regular
Dec 13, 2018
249
397
USA
The customization of the icons seems to be generating quite a bit of excitement, and rightfully so. For such a simple thing, giving your home screen and icons a look that nobody else could potentially have is pretty neat.
 

ouimetnick

macrumors 68030
Aug 28, 2008
2,713
2,666
Beverly, Massachusetts
I do wish Apple would allow users to have the option to further customize the look of iOS. These custom icons are neat and the old school Mac OS X Tiger icons bring back memories. I would definitely like the option to change icons. (Some of them don’t look that great imo)
 

Tsuki415

macrumors newbie
Jun 3, 2012
6
8
The whole “opening Shortcuts” for each app seriously turns me off. Everyone is so on board but loading Shortcuts to load an app isn’t a great implementation. I’m surprised that people enjoy doing this. But hey, to each their own...
 

aleni

macrumors 68020
Jun 2, 2006
2,368
605
The whole “opening Shortcuts” for each app seriously turns me off. Everyone is so on board but loading Shortcuts to load an app isn’t a great implementation. I’m surprised that people enjoy doing this. But hey, to each their own...

This turns me off too. I think it’s pretty stupid to launch shortcuts app first before the app itself. This feels like those trendy people who keep up with the joneses wearing fast moving fashion trend who prefer looks over comfort and functionality.
 
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Jim MinorThreat

macrumors newbie
Jul 17, 2020
8
2
... This would look super simple clean if so:
 

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007p

macrumors 6502a
Mar 7, 2012
839
332
The whole “opening Shortcuts” for each app seriously turns me off. Everyone is so on board but loading Shortcuts to load an app isn’t a great implementation. I’m surprised that people enjoy doing this. But hey, to each their own...

Its also not new, been doing it for at least a year if not more - not to customise the home screen, but to actually run actions when loading apps.
Sure widgets are, but the custom icon through shortcuts isn’t :confused:
 

pdaholic

macrumors 65816
Jun 22, 2011
1,322
1,159
I would love it if Apple would just let us place icons wherever we want instead of making them snap to the upper left corner of the screen. 14 operating systems later and we still can’t position icons on the bottom of the screen (easier to reach one-handed) without putting apps above them to push them down.
 

tonywalker23

macrumors regular
Dec 21, 2003
226
20
SC
Maybe I'm sentimental, but 10.2–10.4 were the glory days of a beautiful interface. When I saw the widget hashtag start spreading, my first thought was to find some screenshots of someone make a OS 9 design. This, however, brings back so many memories.
 

JGIGS

macrumors 65816
Jan 1, 2008
1,361
1,209
CANADA!
Nobody praises the people buying all the chrome accents they can find from eBay to deck out their 2005 accord. Why is this any different?

"ultra creative" ... for skinning their iPhone?

I'm sure they praise each other. I think both are a version of art personally and art is subjective as it should be.

Besides, if they aren't hurting anyone let people do what makes them happy and don't worry about it maybe?
 

JGIGS

macrumors 65816
Jan 1, 2008
1,361
1,209
CANADA!
Looks awful, I'm surprised Apple allows this.

Man are people so brainwashed by Apple these days that they feel like Apple should restrict and decide every aspect of what we can do with our own devices that we pay money for? If this is the case things really need to change. Mindsets need to change.
 
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