iPhone 5 black out: Going dark on wallpaper

After using Twitterrific 5 for a only few hours, and its dark-as-in-black theme, I exited the the app and immediately found my default iOS wallpaper... distracting. So, I whipped up a solid black 1136x640 PNG file, saved it to camera roll, and applied to both my Home screen and Lock screen as a "wallpaper". And now I'm in love with the look. All over again.

Unlike previous generations, which had a shiny silvered or stainless steel band around the sides, Apple made the dark version of the iPhone 5 "black and slate", which I like to call "Vader black", but is more widely known as "blackout". It's popular look for high-end watches and cars. If you put it down on a dark or shadowed surface, you'll have trouble finding it later. Yet as the iPhone's hardware has gone dark, it's software has gone bright. Back in 2007 when Steve Jobs first held it up on stage, the Home screen background was solidly, unchangeably, black. 5 generations and almost as many years later, you can put any image you want there, from textures to faux finishes to photos. You can light up every pixel, all the time.

Apple's head of design, Jony Ive, has spoken about hardware that's authentic to its purpose, and about taking way everything superfluous, everything distracting, until only the essential remains. Twitterrific 5 did the same thing with their dark theme, making it just as authentically digital. (We have a full interview with Gedeon Maheux and David Lanham, with a behind-the-scene look at the making of Twitterrific 5 on this week's episode of Iterate so make sure you check it out!)

Removing the textures, the faux finishes, and the photos from the Home and Lock screen does the same thing for the iPhone as a whole. It sets those intermediary pixels free and brings attention back to information and interface elements that matter. (Would that the Lock screen could go blacker.)

It makes the iPhone seem even more integral, more whole.

Here's the black PNG file if you want to try it. Just touch and hold on the images, save them to your camera roll, go to the photos app, choose the image, tap the action button, and choose the wallpaper option.

And if pure black is too much, here's a slightly textured version called Anthracite by Marc Edwards of Bjango.

There are lots of other subtle variants out there, so if you have a favorite, please do share.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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