iOS 14 has brought a welcome refresh to the iPhone's interface, with the addition of widgets, the App Library and a number of other improvements. One that has garnered less attention, but could be the single biggest way of personalising your device, is the ability to change your app icons. In this article we show how to use this new customisation feature in iOS 14.
How to change the app icons in iOS 14
Before we begin, it should be noted that changing the icons on your iPhone is a little bit of a hack. You don't need to jailbreak your device or install any weird software, mind you; it all revolves around Apple's Shortcuts app. This should be on your iPhone already but if not, you can download it for free on the App Store.
As you'll be creating shortcuts on the Home screen, when you tap the icon it won't directly open the app itself; rather it will use Shortcut commands to do so, all of which results in a slight delay. There's also the disadvantage that you won't see any notification indicators on the icon itself, although you'll still receive messages in the Notification Centre.
If you're happy to work within these conditions, then changing the icons is a quite straightforward procedure.
To do so, open the Shortcuts app on your iPhone (it also works on the iPad) and tap the + icon in the top-right corner of the screen to create a new Shortcut.
On the next page you'll see the option to Add Action. Tap this and then on the following page use the Search bar at the top to find the Open App command and select it to create the first part of the Shortcut.
You'll see a new box with the title Scripting, inside which is the Open command you added. To the right of this is the option Choose. Tap this and you'll be presented with a list of apps that are currently installed on your device.
Select the one you want to give a new icon and you'll see it added to the Open command back in the Scripting box.
Nearly there now. Above the Scripting box you'll see three white dots in a blue circle. Tap this, then select Add to the Home Screen.
On the following page tap the icon displayed in the Home Screen Name and Icon box.
You'll see a small menu appear with three options: Choose File, Choose Photo and Take Photo. Here's where you select the icon you want to use. If you go for an existing photo then you'll be able to resize it to fit the icon dimensions, but we're sure there will be plenty of downloadable options available online as this feature becomes more popular.
With the image selected, tap on the area to the right of the new icon and give the shortcut the same name as the app you want it to launch, then tap the Add button in the top-right corner followed by Done.
Now, when you go to your home screen you should see the newly created app, replete with your custom icon. Tap it and you will briefly see the Shortcuts app appear (very briefly), swiftly replaced with the open app of your choice. It's not quite as smooth as native apps, but it's close and a lot more representative of your own personal style.