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iOS 15 unfortunately did not give us the customization we were hoping for

Iphone 12 Pro Ios 14 Custom Hero
Iphone 12 Pro Ios 14 Custom Hero (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) keynote has now come and gone, with plenty of ways to rewatch it if you missed out the first time around. With WWDC, we got iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, macOS 12 Monterey, and tvOS 15. Even though there are a few nice changes coming in iOS 15 that I'm excited about, I'm still let down overall by what we didn't get, especially when it comes to iOS 15 customization.

With iOS 14 last year bringing users the option to customize the appearance of the Home screen through the Shortcuts app, I was really expecting more from iOS 15 this year.

To be honest, I'm actually more bummed about this than I feel like I should be.

Customizing your iOS Home screen remains as tedious as ever

Customize Ios 14 App Icons Hero

Customize Ios 14 App Icons Hero (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

If you're not aware, iOS 14 was the rise of the "aesthetic AF" trend when it came to iPhone Home screens. Because Apple began allowing people to use custom icons for their apps through the Shortcuts app, people came up with all kinds of amazing themes and setups, especially with the help of Home screen widget-making apps, like Widgetsmith.

For those who have never customized their phone yet without a jailbreak, the process involves using the Shortcuts app to create custom app icons. While the process itself is not hard, it's tedious and time-consuming because you have to create a shortcut and add it to your Home screen one at a time. So if you want an entire Home screen filled with custom app icons and no widgets or blank spaces, you'll need to do this at least 20 to 30 times (depending on the iPhone you're using) to create your custom Home screen.

I don't know about you, but that's a lot of damn shortcuts, and honestly, who has time for that? I managed to change the icons on my iPhone 12 Pro Home screen once to a theme that I like, and I haven't found the motivation or urge to change it since; it's annoying and involves so much time. I see so many cool setups in r/iossetups that make me want to change things up, but with the current process, I just can't find the motivation right now.

And well, at least Apple kind of improved the Shortcuts method over the course of iOS 14 updates. When it originally came out, the Shortcuts method would open the Shortcuts app first before taking you to the app you want to open (this was why I didn't bother at first). But over time, Apple changed it so that your app opens directly from tapping an icon shortcut on the Home screen without going to the Shortcuts app at all. The only thing you need to deal with is a large banner that pops up at the top, informing you that you've technically launched a shortcut. I've grown used to it but still would prefer if I didn't need to deal with any of these minor inconveniences, but I digress.

Maybe one day we can get more customization tools

Iphone 12 Pro Mask Unlock Hero

Iphone 12 Pro Mask Unlock Hero (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

Seriously, with iOS 14 making customization possible at all, I was really hoping for some improvements to the process in iOS 15. Things like making it possible to just change an app icon to a custom one (from an icon pack you download or purchase, not just ones the app developer includes) from within the app itself, thus being able to have notification badges still would have been nice. Or even having some kind of theming app, like Nova Launcher on Android, would have been amazing.

But alas, I suppose I just had my hopes up too high. Not every generation of iOS can be a huge release, and iOS 15 definitely feels more like a Snow Leopard release. You know, where many basic features are getting proper refinement, except customization, of course. I suppose that Apple even allowing customization at all without a jailbreak was a surprise last year, so I shouldn't expect something like that with every update.

However, Focus does help a little bit, as you can make it so that you get certain Home screen pages displayed when a Focus is on. This makes it a little easier if you want to switch between certain theme setups, I suppose, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.

I'll just hold out some hope that iOS 16 or beyond will one day make the customization process for the best iPhone and iPad more streamlined and easy, without the need for hacks and workarounds.

Were you hoping for more customization in iOS 15 too?

What say you? Are you disappointed like I am with the lack of new customization features in iOS 15? Are you still holding out hope that the customization process will be streamlined sometime in the future? Drop your thoughts below.

Christine Chan
Senior Editor

Christine Romero-Chan has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently the iMore lead on all things iPhone, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed.

When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.

6 Comments
  • Ms. Chan, switch to Android and customize to your heart’s content. Based on your negativity about iOS why are you still using an iPhone? Free yourself from the walled garden and be happy.
  • There is more to platform choice than the superficial aspects…
  • Totally agree with you.
  • Apple is missing a huge revenue stream but not allowing icon packs. Think about it. If only a fraction of IPhone users purchased icon packs for, lets say 4.99, apple is missing out on potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue with very little effort on Apples part. It makes no sense.
  • Ah, yeah didn't even think about that. They would totally make a killing if they had a store for just icon packs alone, not even thinking about full on themes yet. I know I would totally be buying a ton, LOL.
  • I was hoping to have few icons on the homescreen with the ability to place them wherever I want. I'm running the beta of iOS 15 right now and I love what Apple packed in there so I'm not too upset anymore lol