Beyond Android: Why iOS 18 Icon Customization Is Better

In Short
  • iOS 18's new icon customization feel like an improved version of what Android has to offer.
  • With icon tinting, Apple lets you access a full range of colors for icons, instead of limiting them to colors based on your wallpaper.
  • There's a dark theme for app icons, which adds a black-ish background to the icons and complements the system-wide dark mode.

This year’s WWDC event was jam-packed with features and improvements coming to Apple’s lineup of devices. The highlight has to be iOS 18 and all the new stuff coming to it like the revamped Control Center, and changes to the Photos, Messages, Maps, and the Notes app. Not to forget Apple Intelligence arriving later this year. However, the feature that got me excited about iOS 18 was icon customization.

Here’s a recap: On iOS 18, you can alter the app icon to match the dark mode theme of the UI. You may also customize the accent color and tint for all icons. By default, it will match the color of your background wallpaper.

Accented Icons Over Material You

I won’t deny that Apple took some major inspiration from Android’s Material You theming, which allows you to apply the same accent color as your wallpaper. Apple gives you more freedom to choose the colors that you want to apply.

Color Picker iOS 18
Tinted icons on iOS 18

There’s a color picker tool that you can use to select and match with your wallpaper. Or you can use the slider to go with whichever color you like. Sure, it might not always look great, but it’s my home screen and should appeal to me. The theme applies to all app icons, even third-party apps, and widgets, bringing an overall consistency to your home screen.

Limited Color and Customizations on Android
Theme icons on Android

On Android, the color palette is constrained to your current wallpaper. Plus, the pastel-style colors of Material You have always looked quite dull to me. Several third-party apps still don’t support theming to this day. Not to forget that Themed icons on Android continue to be under the “Beta” label even after nearly three years of Android 12’s release.

iOS 18 Customization: Not Completely Perfect

The new customizations are surely nice to have and will offer a unique look to every iPhone home screen. However, there is room for improvement as it isn’t perfect. Apple needs to tweak it to look more refined, like removing the accent colors on every widget. As you can see, it applied the red tint on the Photos widget, making it look like a crime scene. And the Spotify widget is unrecognizable.

Accent Color on Widgets iOS 18

The tinted icons should also have a light mode option, as it defaults to dark and there is no option to change that.

Dark Theme Icons Complement Dark Mode

Apple also brings a dark theme to app icons. This preserves their original colors for the app icons, changing only the bordering areas to match the dark theme of your phone. Take a look at the difference in icons between the light and dark modes below.

iOS 18 Custom Icons
Custom Icons – Light (Left) | Dark (Right)

Unlike accented icons, the dark theme is currently limited to stock apps. Hopefully, developers bring it to their apps later down the line. Not to sound like a broken record, but I wish that Android adapted this as well. I like the look of stock icons, and having them in a darker accent elevates the look of the dark mode and compliments it better to match the rest of the UI.

For the first time, I will say that Android could learn a few lessons from Apple when it comes to customization. I know I may sound like a complete Apple fanboy, but I have rarely used an iPhone all my life. But credit is where credit is due, these new customizations seem better to me than what we currently have on Android.

But enough of me. I want to hear what you have to say about icon customization on iOS 18? Is it everything you wanted to do to your iPhone home screen? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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