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A story as old as time – Six colors

home screens
Image: 9to5Mac.

One of the great features of iOS 14 is the addition of home screen modules. Combine this with a bunch of new widget apps like Widgetsmith, designed with many options to add decoration or information to an iPhone, and iPhone users now have the ability to radically customize their home screens.

(iOS 14 is not quite the whole story here – users used to be able to use shortcuts to create app launch apps with custom names and icons, but the new ability to hide pages on the home screen really makes the icons disappear.)

The result, which started immediately after the release of iOS 1

4, has been a viral avalanche of home screen customization tips, mainly driven by young people on platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

So now comes the setback – people complaining that other people are having fun doing things with iPhones.

I will say I’m surprised, but this is the most predictable thing ever. People talked about Memojis, and Animojis, and emojis in general! Sticker shamers exist. People who hate flashy iPhone cases. Why would not people also indulge in this thing?

Some people can not go beyond their point of view and imagine why someone else might want to do something they do not. And some of these people respond by denigrating the people who are having fun.

What’s worse, I can imagine that many of these assassins are old enough to remember when they enthusiastically customized their own devices!

Macs have a long history of customization. When I became a Mac user in the early ’90s, that was it of rigueur to give your Mac hard drive a name and a custom icon. Ideally, you also had a custom wallpaper or image. Apps like SoundMaster let you set custom sounds for different actions. The list went on and on. Your Mac felt like home – and like no other.

What’s more surprising is that Apple was so slow to bring real adaptation to the iPhone home screen. Adding widgets to iOS 14 has caused tremendous creativity, it’s just because all this desire had built up over the years and years with very little outflow.

This is not a surprise. This is not the effect of young whip snails raised on social media wanting to do silly things with their phones. Users of computer platforms have wanted to customize and customize for decades.

David Smith, the developer of Widgetsmith, has seen his app rocket to the top of the App Store lists as part of this trend. I’m sure his roadmap for new features has changed dramatically since they discovered what people wanted to use it for.

Apple should get the message, loud and clear. The company realized a while back that new emojis and animoji characters and memoji designs and the like can help convince people to update the operating system on their devices. It is quite clear that iPhone users desperately want more tools to customize the home screens. If multiple customization features do not pop up Apple’s priority list for iOS 15 (or before), something is wrong.

So party on, home screen designers. Do not let curmudgeons lead you down. You’re just the last in a proud line of people who have wanted to do the natural thing and make their technology more personal.

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