Based on clues found in some early iOS 14 code that was recently leaked, it looks like Apple may finally be planning on undertaking a wholesale redesign of the iPhone (and iPad) home screen, which could mark a huge departure from the standard icon grid layout that’s been the hallmark of the iPhone ever since the first model was released in 2007.
To be fair, Apple has made some changes to the home screen over the years, but these have all been iterative at best. As hard as it is to believe, the original iPhone didn’t even let you move your icons around — they were all in a fixed position, and as the App Store took off, Apple eventually added the ability to organize apps into folders, but the overall design and layout of the home screen remained unchanged.
Meanwhile, many iPhone users envied the level of home screen customization that Android devices have supported since the very beginning, ranging from something as simple as arbitrary placement of app icons anywhere on the screen to actually being able to drop in widgets right alongside app icons. Apple attempted to roll its own solution to widgets by creating a separate “Today” screen that could be accessed by swiping to the left of the first page of the home screen as well as adding them to popup menus accessed via 3D Touch or Haptic Touch.
So we’ve already seen some pretty cool ideas on what the iOS 14 home screen might look like, but another leaked screenshot found by Twitter user DongleBookPro shared some more information on the new wallpaper settings in iOS 14, corroborating the improved wallpaper support that 9to5Mac found earlier this year that would let you add custom wallpapers and organize them into collections.
These latest screenshots also reveal a new “Home Screen Appearance” option that’s simply to the Watch Face settings in the Apple Watch app that would bring smart dynamic wallpapers to the home screen.
As 9to5Mac points out, however, this is probably just the tip of the iceberg in terms of Apple’s plans, since evidence has also been found of a new feature, internally codenamed “Avocado” that is tied to the home screen’s “Springboard” app.
According to 9to5Mac, this module is intended to actually deliver real Android-style widgets to the iPhone (and iPad) home screen for the first time. Not the pinned widgets that Apple debuted in iPadOS 13 last year, which was really just a sidebar variation on the “Today” screen, but “real widgets” that “can be moved around just like any app icon.”
It also seems likely that the new iOS 14 redesign would also add the ability to place app icons anywhere on the home screen, rather than having them always ordered in a left-to-right sequence, since it wouldn’t make any sense for users to have to wrap icons around home screen widgets.
Of course, the usual caveats apply here, and it’s still too early to say if the feature will actually make it into iOS 14. The code that’s been leaked is already several months old, so this could even be something that Apple has already stopped working on, or may have pushed off to a future version of iOS. We first saw evidence of Dark Mode hiding in iOS 10 beta code back in 2016, but it took until iOS 13 before the feature actually showed up.
Still, even though Apple has moved WWDC to an online-only format this year, we’re still expecting to see iOS 14 unveiled during the event, so we should know in a couple of months whether this one is going to make the cut or not.