Friday, September 25, 2020 [Tweets] [Favorites]


David Smith (tweet, App Store):

Widgetsmith lets you personalize your home screen like never before.

It starts with a wide collection of highly customizable widgets, which range in function from date, to weather, to astronomy. Each can be adjusted precisely to best fit your desired function and appearance.

This set of widgets can then be dynamically scheduled to appear on your home screen following rules you define. For example, a particular widget could show the weather first thing in the morning, then your calendar during your work day, then switch to your Activity ring progress as you wrap up your day. This lets you take full advantage of each slot on your home screen.

It’s currently #1 in the App Store’s Productivity category.

Rebecca Jennings:

There was a time not so long ago when buying an Apple product meant buying into a very specific aesthetic, one designed by men in glass-walled offices who liked to think of themselves as high-minded futurists. Their vision for that future was almost always the same: sleek, minimalist, and above all, simple.

But according to my TikTok feed over the past weekend, iPhones are now bastions of complex personal micro-identities. “How to make your iPhone home screen aesthetic AF!” begins a video tutorial with 3 million likes. On Twitter, users boast screenshots of their own creations, from Studio Ghibli to cottagecore, Mean Girls to “Katy Perry in the ‘Never Really Over’ video,” and“dirtbag Shia LaBeouf” (a personal favorite). To do so, they’re using customizable widgets with Apple’s refreshed Shortcuts app as well as other downloadable tools like Widgetsmith (The Verge has a good explainer on how to wield them). Used particularly artfully, the effects can turn the home screen of your phone into an ode to Animal Crossing or what BTS would look like in a late ’90s teen magazine — far removed from the traditional grid of rounded-edge squares with company logos.

Nick Heer:

I have no idea if Apple thought that Shortcuts and home screen widgets would allow for such wild customization, but I think it is terrific.

Jason Brennan:

I genuinely love how many people are going crazy customizing their iOS 14 homescreens and icons.

The instant craze is proof to me people are starved for (and can handle!) more options and customizability and don’t need “simplicity” as much as Apple seems to think

Julia Alexander:

It’s hard to say how long the fad will last, or how long users will keep their intricate home screens. Parrotte and Gia think part of it is simply creating the designs for clout. (“I think it’s a way for people to flex,” Gia says.) But with form factors and operating systems settling into a dull sameness, there’s a powerful appeal to having a home screen that looks different from everyone else’s.


Update (2020-09-28): See also: Accidental Tech Podcast, The Talk Show.

Update (2020-10-01): See also: Under the Radar.

Steve Troughton-Smith:

After seeing how widgets have played out on iOS 14, I bet there are people at Apple feeling pretty foolish for choosing to not enable the feature on iPad 😅

Update (2020-10-02): See also: The Talk Show.

Update (2021-02-05): John Voorhees:

Yesterday, Jason Aten of Inc. published an interview with Smith about his career as an independent developer and how his 12 years of experience building 59 different apps prepared him for the unexpected success of Widgetsmith, which has been downloaded more than 50 million times.

1 Comment

>There was a time not so long ago when buying an Apple product meant buying into a very specific aesthetic, one designed by men in glass-walled offices who liked to think of themselves as high-minded futurists.

As Siracusa points out, that period wasn't as long as some people may think.

Ive in particular seemed to like the purity + glass + aluminum aesthetic, and it dominated roughly Apple's 2010s. But there were other periods that were quite different:

* the original Mac stated, "I have cute personality", including its boot screen, and quirks like Clarus the dogcow.

* I'm not sure how soon this shipped (I'm guessing System 6-ish?), but as Siracusa discusses, customizing your app and folder icons was huge around 1987-1997.

* the early Jobs + Ive era of 1998 to about 2005, just before the iPhone, was also quite colorful: obviously the pinstripe-era Macs, Aqua, anodized aluminum on the iPods mini and nano, etc. (Arguably, pre-7 iOS was also fairly bubbly.) However, the era wasn't very _customizable_. Jobs limited Appearance Manager, either because he hated it or also because of quality concerns, and Mac OS X never had quite the same level of deep customization (in part due to security concerns).

Right now, Apple may mostly exude the image of "men in glass-walled offices who liked to think of themselves as high-minded futurists", but I think (hope?) that that's just a phase, whose end we're nearing.

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