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Bringing the fun back to our screens

September 2020

I used to spend a lot of time customising how my Home Screen, dock and desktop looked. The obsession was at its height around 2009-2011. I had a jailbroken iPod Touch, then iPhone. CandyBar by Panic had a permanent place on the dock of my iMac. I spent hours upon hours searching for applying and combining themes for Winterboard, at one point I even ported the minimal scroll bars from iOS to Snow Leopard, which meant trawling through thousands of tiny images locked inside the deepest parts of the OS.

The community was full of people with the same obsession as me, swapping and sharing their own setups. It was lots of fun, and a great example of what the internet should be. A small niche community creating stuff and generally being cool to one another, some highlights include:

Unfortunately, and slowly the scene started to slow down. Mac OS X theming became next to impossible after new security features arrived. iOS 7 killed skeuomorphism, jailbreaking became harder and meant staying behind on old version to wait out the next breakthrough. And, honestly I lost interest. It was a lot of fun, and something I think back on warmly. I still tinker with my setup in more practical ways, mostly my development environment.

I started reminiscing about all this after seeing how the introduction of widgets in iOS 14 has spawned a whole new generation of people having fun with their home screens. Louie Mantia also started tweeting screenshots of the ‘old days’ . It’s been a lovely trip down memory lane, and great to see.