Feature Request: Offer more iOS themes than just Light and Dark

We got the first iOS themes last year, when Apple brought a system-wide Dark Mode to the iPhone as part of iOS 13. But the way that iPhone users have been taking advantage of widgets and shortcuts in iOS 14 to completely transform the look of their devices suggests that there is demand for more system-wide iOS themes.

Indeed, one app designed to help users create customized widgets shot to the top of the App Store charts …

Widgetsmith topped the charts, while Color Widgets and Photo Widget rounded out the top three apps, providing testament to the huge popularity of customized home screens.

We responded by bringing you hands-on guides to creating both customized widgets in Widgetsmith and customized app icons using Shortcuts. Using Widgetsmith is simple.

The Widgetsmith process is incredibly straightforward. You simply click the “Add” button for the size of widget you want to create, then tap on the widget to customize it.

The first decision you have to make is what sort of information you want the widget to display on your home screen […] Within each data type, there are a variety of different options for displaying whatever data type you’ve picked. From there, you have additional customization options including the font style, tint color, and background color. The result can be as colorful and aesthetically pleasing or as information-dense as you so desire.

Creating custom app icons in Shortcuts is a little more involved, with an 8-step process.

iPhone owners have been incredibly creative in some of the results they’ve achieved, but some may not be happy with both the work and the clunky nature of the Shortcuts approach.

Something to keep in mind when you make an iOS 14 aesthetic with the Shortcuts app/custom icons, when you tap them to launch an app you will briefly see the Shortcuts app on your iPhone before it opens the app linked to it. It’s a bit clunky, but it’s the price we have to pay for a custom iOS 14 aesthetic (at least as long as Apple doesn’t allow changing icons of the actual apps).

Macworld’s Jason Snell suggests that Apple should respond to this demand by creating more iOS themes (which some argue are more properly termed modes).

Apple needs to seriously consider expanding its theme system beyond Light and Dark modes. Imagine a handful of official themes that users could choose from, and then every app on their device could adjust its appearance to reflect that theme. These themes could include color schemes and, yes, custom icons for every app. Consider it the logical extension of the custom background images that Apple builds for devices of different colors.

I’d love to see this. For example:

  • Monochrome
  • Pastels
  • Primary colors
  • Minimalist
  • Classic

Yep, Classic could even use skeuomorphic icons given that some users have been going back to a ye olde style aesthetic.

For example, if a developer chose red, amber, and green for their apps, choosing the Pastels or Primary colors theme would leave the colors intact, but apply different palettes to give a significantly different look.

Rather than have to do all the customization work manually, we could just flip a switch to change up the look any time we fancied a change.

What’s your view? Is a variety of iOS themes something you’d like to see Apple offer? Are there other themes you’d add to my list? Please take our poll, and share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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