Customizing My iPhone

Everyone wants to make their most personal device actually personal. Some more than others. Since the launch of iPhone there have been opportunities to do some intense changes to SpringBoard (SpringBoard is the standard application that manages the iOS home screen) but they all required jailbreaking. Now the problem is that not only is jailbreaking a bit more difficult than swiping to unlock, it’s also a quick way to screw up the security and privacy protections that keep you safe.

That doesn’t need to stop you from making some cool things happen.

There are a couple of things going on here on my iPhone XS:

  1. Apps moved down one row
  2. Hidden folders
  3. Hidden dock

But a quick aside about the apps installed, I actually like most of the stock apps but am insanely particular about a couple (and maybe I’ll even write full reviews one day). Email is a critical component of my work and Apple Mail just does not cut it. Spark by Readdle is number one in my book with its killer snooze feature. There are other email clients which do this (Airmail is a great second place) but I have found usability overall better with Spark (on iOS and MacOS). Next you’ll notice I’m using stock Calendar and Fantastical. Why? Well Fantastical is the best calendar app for iOS so that’s easy (though I’d love an update to that icon!) but Apple prevents dynamic icons except for its own apps (Clock and Calendar). So to have a nice in-your-face reminder of what day it is requires having Calendar available.

Back to the look. To achieve the effects above requires the right wallpaper, “empty” web Home Screen icons, and an invisible character.

This specific magical and mysterious wallpaper is provided by Mysterious iPhone Wallpaper (of course). The art and magic of Hideaki Nakatani is absolute genius. I don’t even pretend to understand how this voodoo gets created. I’m guessing some insane math and understanding of iOS rendering, regardless there is an area devoted to dock-less wallpapers. I chose one that would fade to white since I new I wanted to keep the stock calendar available to have a quick look at the date and moving that icon to the dock also hide the app title.

To arrange icons we need to add “blank” icons. Using iEmpty requires a few interesting steps. Start with Create BLANK icons, this will require uploading a screenshot of a blank area of your phone. Instructions follow every step of the way. I created blank icons for the top row as well as multiple “white” icons to be utilized to hide icons within folders. You’ll also want to use the Set EMPTY folder name feature to grab the hidden character which will allow you to have no name for the icons or folders you may create. There is actually a row of folders below Spark | Todoist | Dropbox | Copper and can be tapped to open just like normal. Each first screen of every folder only contains one blank white icon while all the apps hide in subsequent screens. There is also one folder to the left, and one to the right, of the calendar in the dock. Most of the apps in the folders are not utilized on a daily basis or have alternate methods of being reached (we’ll see this in the Notifications screen later). One great thing about many of the recent iPhones is 3D Touch. So if notifications bubbles appear for any of the apps in the invisible folders, you can force push the folder and get a list of the apps the need attention.

So how to get to a bunch of the apps that needed to be used? The magic of Launcher Pro and Notification widgets.

Launcher Pro does a million cool things but what I really needed was a screen that made reaching apps easily with one hand. I’ve sized the launchers and Fantastical so that swiping left from home gets me 30 apps in the bottom half of the screen. There are additional widgets that can be reached by swiping up. For the app icons I customized with Glyphicons.

That’s it! I look forward to seeing your great concoctions on Twitter!

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