Your iPhone’s Home Screen May Be More Customizable Than Ever in iOS 18

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If there’s one area where our Android-toting brethren have an advantage, it’s in the much greater customizability offered by the rival smartphone platform. However, Apple may soon narrow that gap if the latest rumors about what’s coming in iOS 18 are true.

While Android users have enjoyed things like widgets and random app icon placement on their home screens since the days of Android version 1.1 (aka “Cupcake”), the iPhone has always lagged far behind the curve on this one.

For example, Android 1.0 supported folders when it debuted in 2008, but Apple didn’t add those until iOS 4 in 2010. Meanwhile, while widgets were a big new thing in 2009 for Android users, it would take another 11 years before iPhone users got an even marginally similar experience.

That’s not to say that the iPhone isn’t well ahead of Android in many other areas, but customizability has never been one of them. Both companies borrow ideas from each other, but Apple has stuck with its more opinionated designs when it comes to the Home Screen. However, for some folks, it feels like it’s just very slow at catching up to what Android users have been able to do for years.

Now, it appears that iOS 18 will be another big step in that direction. In his latest Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman teased that Apple’s next major iPhone software release will pack in a “more customizable” Home Screen.

Gurman didn’t elaborate on precisely what he meant by that, but the folks at MacRumors checked with some of their sources, who told them that Apple will finally abandon the requirement that you arrange all app icons in a sequential grid.

In other words, you’ll now be able to easily create blank spaces between app icons, letting you organize them in whatever way makes the most sense for you. While clever folks have figured out how to accomplish this using Shortcuts and third-party apps like Widgetsmith, these are kludgy workarounds for something that should be built into the operating system — and something that’s been possible on Apple’s rival smartphone platform for about 16 years.

It’s unclear if iOS 18 will abandon the grid layout entirely; app icons will likely still have to “snap” into specific positions on the screen. However, even if those 24 spots are fixed, the ability to drop them into any one of them is a welcome change for those who prefer to space their apps out, group them into more logical arrangements, or just keep them out of the way of a background wallpaper image.

Sources suggest there will be a few other Home Screen customizations, building on the Lock Screen changes introduced in iOS 16. They haven’t expanded on those yet, other than to say that this could be the biggest Home Screen revamp we’ve seen since widgets came along in iOS 14.

There’s reason to believe that iOS 18 will pack in a lot more goodies, with a strong focus on generative AI — possibly powered by Google’s Gemini if talks between the two companies work out. These AI changes could encompass everything from Siri improvements and auto-generated Apple Music playlists to an all-out ChatGPT-style chatbot. Gurman expects a slew of AI features specifically aimed at helping you “manage your daily life.”

With Apple’s June Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) fast approaching, we’ll likely hear more news slip out as the company prepares to unveil iOS 18 and the rest of its major software releases. Although specific dates for WWDC 2024 have not yet been announced, it’s typically held in early June, with the official announcement going out in late March or early April — in other words, any day now.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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