I created the perfect home screen for iPhone, and you can too | digital trends

With iOS 14, Apple began to open the floodgates for software customization on the iPhone. For the first time, you can add widgets to your home screen and even change app icons to custom ones without jailbreak. And iOS 16 gave us more customization options in the form of the lock screen, although the interface for that is excellent, to say the least.

While I see many people still use a standard grid layout on their home screen, I took some time when iOS 14 first came out to customize my iOS experience. I enjoy that it’s not just a boring grid of common icons – having custom icons and widgets really mixes things up a bit and gives me a more informative home screen.

Here are some tips on how I created my perfect iPhone home screen and how you can too.

Add some depth to my home screen icons

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

When iOS 14 first launched and people started the “aesthetic AF” home screen trend on TikTok, it blew up in ways I never thought possible. People were theming their home screens with unified icon sets and widgets, and I had to join the bandwagon, too.

But after seeing all the necessary steps to make a single custom app icon in Siri Shortcuts (it was about 20 steps for each icon), I knew this would be something I would only do very rarely because it’s so tedious. Two years later, it’s as cumbersome as ever: I seriously don’t get why Apple doesn’t simplify the process, or maybe just open a custom theme store of some kind. It would literally print money for the company.

So, with that in mind, I decided to put off changing all the main home screen icons until I found a nice icon theme pack that I liked enough to warrant an hour just to get everything set up. I forget exactly how I stumbled across the Polyphian depths icon issue, but I think it was while browsing the iOSsetups subreddit.

But why depths? Since iOS 7, app icons have gotten flat and boring, losing much of the unique charm and character that made them special before. And a lot of icons these days also look very similar to each other, which I’m not a particular fan of either.

Custom iOS 16 home screen with icons and widgets
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Depths retain most of what you see in stock icons, but add some much-needed depth to them, making them stand out. Polyphian also has variant color versions of the icons, all of which support light and dark themes (I’m a dark mode person myself). To me Depths is just like the original icons but much better. On my iPhone 14 Pro, since I have dark mode turned on 24/7, I have most of my custom depth icons set to the dark background, allowing the icons and logos of colors stand out, with the exception of a few where I prefer the colored background.

I’m the type of person who usually sets one thing down and sticks with it for a long time. For example, prior to non-jailbroken iOS customization, the apps on my home screen remained unchanged for several years, and the apps would be critical pieces of software that I depend on daily to earn a place on my home screen and base. The same can be said for my custom app icons; I’ve been using Depths on my home screen for about two years now.

Maybe it also has something to do with Apple’s cumbersome process with Siri Shortcuts that I just can’t be bothered to change my whole icon theme again, but I also really like Polyphian’s Depths, although it’s far from the only icon pack. themes (or wallpaper) is over.

iPhone 14 Pro with Widgy and Siri suggested apps widget on a home screen
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Another big change Apple made in iOS 14 was the ability to finally add widgets to the Home screen, instead of just having them in the Today view (a misnamed view that’s only seen when you swipe to the right of the Home screen). startup or lock). I was excited when this became a reality as I liked to break up the monotony of 1×1 app icons in a grid.

At the moment, I have a two page setup for my home screen. The first contains my custom app icons, but the layout is split with a stack of medium-sized widgets on top, and then a small stack of widgets below, before I go into my standard app icons.

I chose to stack multiple widgets on top of each other so that I could navigate through numerous chunks of information throughout the day. My top medium widget stack contains useful views for my calendar (Fantastical), drums, family memories via my Family Album app, the Mastodon timeline, and more. I’ve also enabled Smart Rotate and widget suggestions, and I’m still amazed at how helpful it’s been. I usually get some useful widgets related to work or just downtime as the machine learning on my iPhone 14 Pro has adapted to my regular day-to-day schedule.

iOS 16 Home Screen Page with Widgy Widget and Siri Suggestions
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

On the other hand, my smaller widget simply displays data from my Apple Watch’s activity rings, giving me an idea of ​​how active I’ve been throughout the day. Seeing this motivates me to get up and move when I need to. I also like to use this little space to stack other health related widgets, allowing me to easily slide around.

My second home screen page is just two medium-sized widgets, taking up the entire page. The first half is dedicated to the Widgy app, which allows you to create cool, custom widgets that can display all sorts of information or whatever you want. It’s highly customizable, but it can get a bit technical: I just search for cool Widgy widgets on iOSsetups Reddit and save them, since a lot of people use this particular app. My current Widgy displays the temperature for my location in large text, as well as the upcoming weather for the next three days. It also shows the time and date, although due to iOS limitations, they are not real-time.

Widgy App Screenshots
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Finally, the second widget I have is just a Siri Suggestions widget for apps. It took a few days for the machine learning to kick in, but it seems to give me trusted app suggestions, depending on the time of day, every time I turn to my second page. I’m more or less a creature of habit, so the Siri Suggestions widget almost feels like my phone is reading my mind, because the app I want almost always appears when I need it.

My current default lock screen has no widgets as it interferes with the depth effect of my wallpaper. However, I have one set up with two small 1×1 widgets for the weather and my calendar. Having this information available on the lock screen is useful, since all I need to do is take a quick glance at my phone without unlocking it.

Complementing everything with a fun wallpaper

iOS 16 lock screen on an iPhone 14 Pro
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Wallpapers will always be somewhat subjective – there is no one best wallpaper that is right for everyone. Personally, I like having fun colored backgrounds on my home screen, and I switched to using personal photos as my lock screen background. This was incredibly helpful when I almost lost my phone in a bathroom at Disneyland, and someone was able to return it to me because I ran back a few minutes later and someone recognized me because my phone’s wallpaper had a picture of me and my husband on it.

But sometimes, I like to switch it up. If I’m not using a photo I took myself, it’s probably going to be a wallpaper related to something else I love, like Disney-related images, or something with my favorite franchises, video games, or whatever. Maybe even something that looks cute. Before iOS 16 screwed up the interface for changing wallpapers, I changed my wallpaper as often as I change my phone case (very often).

iPhone 14 Pro with custom home screen on Mickey Mouse phone holder next to flowers
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

However, when it comes to home screen wallpaper, while I prefer fun colored backgrounds with my favorite hues (pinks, greens, purples, etc.), I also don’t like them to be distracting. That’s why my home screen wallpaper usually ends up being some kind of abstract image or something with a simple design or pattern, maybe even a simple photo (blades of grass, for example) if I feel like it. But I’ll never use something like a family photo as my home screen wallpaper, because they’re usually too busy and end up getting blocked by icons and widgets anyway, so what’s the point?

I tend to find wallpaper images on the internet. But some of my favorite places to find new and interesting images are on the r/Amoledbackgrounds subreddit, as well as The Iconfactory’s Wallaroo app. My current home screen background is one I made with the Pastel app.

The perfect iPhone home screen is up to you

Someone holding the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Joe Maring/Digital Trends

The home screen on my iPhone has stayed pretty much the same for years, but the customization options Apple gave us in iOS 14 allowed me to update it a bit without jailbreaking. Then iOS 16 allowed us to change up the lock screen with some new fonts, colors, and widgets.

I just talked about how I made my iPhone 14 Pro home and lock screen work for me, but again, this is all subjective. You can also customize your home screen with app icons and widgets, but honestly, if you’re a newcomer, it can be very daunting and overwhelming. I find r/iOSsetups Reddit a great place to start if you want ideas and inspiration, as some of the users have some very creative and fun setups. Most users also share where they got their theme icon packs, wallpapers, and widgets from, though be warned: not everything will be freely available.

As for widgets, I would think about the kind of information that you would find useful to see at a glance throughout the day. Whether on the lock screen or home screen, widgets let you see what matters most to you quickly. I wish Apple would add some interactivity to widgets because they’re still glorified app icons, but that’s a story for another day.

It took me a while to get the perfect home screen on my iPhone, but it was worth it. It all comes down to what you want to get out of yours.

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James D. Brown
James D. Brown
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