Is your social media feed full of screenshots of newly-decorated home screens? You can thank Apple’s iOS 14 update for that. The update allows users to customize their home screens and showcase their own personal aesthetic, and Gen Z is all over it.
For Gen Z, creating a personalized space or style with things like LED light strips, plants, and clothing are important ways to express themselves. Now they can add stylizing their home screens to the list of things to make uniquely theirs. No matter what their interests are, it’s important to spend time understanding what our teens care about, and why they enjoy those things. As Gen Z designs their home screens and shares them with peers, they’re joining a community of like-minded people in something fun and creative. It also gives them a sense of comfort when they specifically create something that feels uniquely them. If this is something your teen has done, or wants to do, we invite you to redesign your home screens together! Stepping into a space that your teen actually cares about can allow for meaningful connection.
How do I get the update?
You can achieve this aesthetic with the use of iPhone widgets and the Shortcuts app. First, you’ll need to make sure you’ve updated to the latest version by going to Settings > General > Software Update. Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how you can customize your iPhone home screen. We encourage you to take these steps with your kid and customize your home screens together!
Set up Widgets
The iOS 14 update brought a new wave of attention to iPhone’s customizations features, old and new. Widgets provide a new way for you to make important features of your iPhone easily accessible. You can display the date and time, reminders for the day, maps, music, and more at a larger size than your other apps. And if you need a little inspiration, Apple has a few preset widgets ready for you to use as soon as you download the update. Here’s how you can set them up!
- Press and hold anywhere on your screen until the apps start shaking.
- Click the (+) button at the top right corner of your screen and browse for a widget you like.
- Once you find what you want, click on it and place it wherever you’d like! If you don’t like where you placed it, press and hold anywhere on your screen again to move your widgets and apps wherever you want.
Do you want more widgets to use? Well, you’re in luck! Apps like Widgetsmith and Color Widget give you more widget and customization options. Here are a few ways you can use Widgetsmith to make your home screen even more personalized:
1. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll be taken to a page where you can select a small, medium, or large widget.
2. When you select a size, click the box that says Default Widget to start customization.
3. You’ll have several different options to choose from:
- First, you can pick the style of your widget. You can choose a functional widget (date, time, calendar) or a decorative widget (photo, blank, text), which are free. To get full access to the app’s features (like temperature conditions, tide clocks, etc.) you must pay $2/month.
- Once you select the style, click on the tabs underneath to choose the font, text color, background color, and border color.
4. After you’re done making your widget, use the back arrow at the top left corner that displays the widget’s name. Click Save at the top right corner then exit the app.
5. Now, you can access all of your phone’s widgets by holding down anywhere on the screen and pressing the plus icon at the top right corner like before.
6. Search “Widgetsmith,” then click on the listed app and place the size of the widget you made.
7. Once you place the widget, press and hold the widget until it’s isolated and a small list appears. Press Edit Widget, then select the name of the widget you made.
8. And voila! You’ve taken another step toward making your home screen uniquely yours.
Other widget apps:
Customize your icons
This is where the customization gets more complicated. Many teens want their iPhone screens to reflect their own personal style and interests, which they can achieve by using the Shortcuts app (if they’re willing to spend the time to do so). Even though this feature has been around for a while, many people are just now discovering the full extent of the feature with iOS 14. Here’s how you can use Shortcuts to make your home screen aesthetically pleasing:
1. Design or download pictures that you would like to replace your current icons. These don’t have to match the type of app since you will still have the app’s name below, so feel free to be as creative as you want! There are many icon packs you can download from creators, or make your own using Canva!
2. Once you have those downloaded and saved in your photos, go to the Shortcuts app > click the top right (+) button > Add Action > Scripting (button with an ‘x’ icon) > Open App > Choose > and lastly, select the app you want to change.
3. Next, click the three dots at the top (if it’s hidden, you may want to drag the page down to reveal it). This will take you to the Details page. Once you click Add to Home Screen you can then click the text box and type in the app’s name. Then select the icon next to the text box, select Choose Photo and select the picture you want.
4. Once you have your aesthetically pleasing app, you’ll notice that the original is still there. If you want to take the original app off of your home screen, you can move it to your App Library where it will be stored in the farthest page to the right of your phone. To move an app to your library, press down on the app until it's shaking and has a (-) button at the corner of the app. Click the (-) button and select Remove App in red > Move to App Library. Some people prefer to compile a folder to put all the originals in so they’re hidden from their home screen, but still easily accessible. The choice is yours!
*One thing to note is that every time you use the app now, it will briefly direct you to the Shortcuts app before opening the app itself. Then it automatically sends you to the app you chose; however, it takes a second’s delay every time. If this bugs you, this video can help make the delay smoother.
Despite many of these steps being time-consuming, Gen Z is plunging head-first into this new home screen project. Now that you have the steps to customize your own iPhone, we encourage you to explore this with your teen! If they’ve already set up their own home screen, that’s ok. Invite them to take over your phone for a couple of hours and make it look awesome, or sit down with them and do it together. Or, if you’re not interested in updating your own home screen, one great way to connect over this is to simply talk about your teen’s personalized screen. What icons did they choose? Did they go with a specific theme from their favorite band, TV show, hobby, or color? Why did they customize it the way they did? The key here is to be interested. Use this update as an opportunity to connect over something personal and fun!