In 2022, Apple introduced iOS 16, which brought with it vastly improved lock screens — and made the iPhone so much better.
With iOS 16, you can now set things on your lock screen, like different clock fonts, lock screen widgets, and new wallpapers, in just a few taps. Anytime I want to give my iPhone a fresh coat of paint, I can do it right from the same screen I see every time I wake my phone — without having to dive into settings. And even better, when you start to make a new wallpaper, the page contains a bunch of suggestions and options to help you decide what it might look like.
Want a lock screen focused on the weather? Apple has a recommendation for that. Want a fancy pattern of emoji? There are a bunch of patterns to pick from, and Apple even lets you feature up to six different emoji in your wallpaper. (Might I recommend the waffle or yawn emoji?) If you really want to get fancy, you can even make your iPhone’s wallpaper a rotating gallery of good vibes.
Personally, I love Apple’s options for wallpapers that fill the background with a color or shade. My background is usually a gradient color of some kind, and in the past, I’ve resorted to scouring the web for good-looking images that often weren’t quite right. Now, I can pick from a huge swath of colors right from the wallpaper menu, tweak the intensity of the gradient, and mess around with different shades.
Even better, you can now tie wallpapers to Focus modes to match different vibes. I have a calming blue attached to my “Vacation” Focus to remind me to chill out. My colleague Victoria Song set an image of the “This is Fine” dog for her Focus mode when things are not fine.
What about homescreens?
As my colleague Allison Johnson wrote, the new iOS 16 lock screens rule. But now that Apple has relinquished some control of the lock screen, it’s time for Apple to give us more personalization tools for the homescreen.
What if we could easily customize app icons? Yes, it is possible to do that now, but it requires a fair amount of work. While you can follow our handy guide, I’d like something closer to the easy theming options you can set on Android. I personally don’t need to set a dramatically different theme — I’m not looking to Windows-ify my iPhone — I’d just like to make everything have similar colors to compliment my gradient wallpapers.
I also want more ways to organize my icons. I typically keep just three or four rows of apps on my homescreen and relegate everything else to the App Library. (No widgets for me — I don’t find them very useful.) But it would be amazing if I could align my homescreen apps at the bottom of the screen instead of at the top without making extra spaces with special widgets or hacked-in invisible app icons.
In 2020, my former colleague Chaim Gartenberg argued that Apple will probably never give us custom app icons. At the time, I completely agreed with him. But now that Apple has opened the door with iOS 16 and its excellent lock screen tools, I believe there’s a not-so-far future where the company will make it a lot easier to mess around with the things on our homescreens, too. Fingers crossed for iOS 17.