When acquiring a new iPhone, many new and regular Apple customers immediately face a difficult issue: how are you supposed to make this iPhone truly yours? iOS is notorious for its walled garden approach: you are entitled to great support, enhanced system security and curated services, as well as software integration across many devices. However, customization options are limited and your choices to make your phone suit your tastes, preferences and needs are often restricted.
There is a way to opt out of the closed ecosystem, allowing all customization you want in exchange for your warranty and customer support. That would be jailbreaking, a practice known to, and sometimes feared by, many iPhone users. The possibility of installing unauthorized software exposes you to many risks and prevents you from soliciting Apple’s official support in case your phone presents any problems. The risks can outweigh the benefits even for tech savvy users, especially in the case of newer models and if the objective is customization for convenience.
If your needs for customization are based on a desire to make your phone more stylish, accessible or quick to use, you don’t need to look any further and you absolutely don’t need to take drastic measures. The App Store does offer some great options for customization apps. We have selected the best iPhone customization apps and organized them by categories you may want to customize. Moreover, there is one free and one paid app in each category, taking into account both users who want and users who don’t want to spend money in this process.
Mobile keyboard most distinctive feature is their autocorrect function, which, for better or worse, has changed the way we type. For all good the algorithms do, they also tend to make a few common mistakes. For example, the default iOS keyboard famously replaces four-letter words and tends to mistake one of the most common words in English for an acronym. You can, of course, disable autocorrect, but that would remove its benefits too. So, you need a keyboard that lets you customize the autocorrect – or, even better, a keyboard that adapts itself to you behavior and vocabulary.
This is what SwiftKey was made for: its algorithms track the words you use the most and is capable of remembering entire phrases you commonly use, word by word. With multiple languages and analysis of your typing (or swiping!) behavior, it’s quite possibly one of the best iPhone customization apps overall, not only in the keyboard category. And, the best of all, it’s free.
- Summary: A smart keyboard that adapts its features to how you normally type.
- Pros: Working autocorrect, multiple languages, remembers words you use the most.
- Cons: At 116.3MB, its size can get quite big for a keyboard.
- Price: Free
Another issue users may face when using the iOS default keyboard is the lack of swipe support. Instead of typing letter by letter, it may be a lot more convenient to slide your fingers – or, even more conveniently, finger – across the keyboard, stopping and turning at the keys you want to type. It requires some training, but an app that provides this function and facilitates its continuous use
should make messaging and searching a lot less painful, literally and figuratively.
Thumbly was designed with ergonomics in mind: it was made specifically to allow comfortable typing with one thumb. This is wonderful both as an accessibility and as a quickness feature, since it makes typing so much faster once you get used to it, especially if you master the art of swiping.
- Summary: A keyboard designed to allow typing with one thumb.
- Pros: Ergonomic, can switch between right-handed and left-handed styles.
- Cons: Itmay take a little while until you get used to it.
- Price: $1.99
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Display – Wallpaper, Icons & Lock Screen
Nothing speaks personality in an iPhone like pressing the Home button and immediately recognizing the picture that pops up. It’s a matter of identity: two phones can have identical cases, but they will never have the same lock screen – which is actually useful in the case of lost phones. So adding your personal touch to your phone’s display goes a long way in making it feel like it truly belongs to
you. You naturally want a tool that allows you to customize everything from wallpaper to icons to fonts, if only because it’ll help you organize the layout of your phone.
Magic Screen provides these functions with the intent to make it “magic”. By offering a wide range of effects for photos, icons and even your calendar, it allows you to edit, apply filter and make themes for your phone’s home and lock screen. It’s free, too, so you can try it out easily before deciding it’ll really be your main customization tool.
- Summary: A gallery of filters, effects and editing tools you can use in every aspect of your display.
- Pros: Creative, gives everything you need to customize your screens, calendar and icons.
- Cons: Has ads. You may remove the video ads and the in-app purchases allow you to disable any add.
- Price: Free
When customizing the visual aspect of your screens, you may want to either design your own theme or pick from a premade one. When it comes to phone animations, however, you’ll hardly ever have the chance to customize your own patterns. Therefore, an app
that can “access” these features is always valuable. If it has integration with the standard Apple features and programs, expanding their use, that’s even better – it draws the best from customization and manufacturer’s support. Consequently, it’s hard to deny that the best customization apps are those that can provide both user freedom and support.
Pimp Your Screen has been highly rated for years, consistently being featured in articles about customization apps. Its unique Apple Watch features allow you to not only customize your phone but also make it match with another gadget, creating an interesting aesthetic experience that is as much about iOS as it about you.
- Summary: A full-on display customization app that lets you design themes and backgrounds.
- Pros: Very powerful, has tons of content – seasonal content included – for you to choose.
- Cons: For an app with so much content, not having a thumbnail feature makes it hard to browse premade wallpapers.
- Price: $1.99
Navigation & Performance
In the past, it was even more difficult to make your iPhone look, sound and work the way you wanted it to. You normally want to employ a method as straightforward as possible to access your apps, no matter how many of them you have. However and years ago, the first app that allowed you to launch apps and specific commands from your Notifications Center instead of swiping through your Home Screen for ages was removed, sparking a controversy. It has been back for quite a few years now, though, and is better than ever.
The main advantage of launching apps and functionalities from the Notification Center instead of having them docked in your Home Screen is that the former is always a simple swipe away, even if you’re running something else. This way, you can not only quickly launch a browser – you can launch a specific website.
- Summary: An app-launching widget that allows you to access apps and specific functions easily.
- Pros: The original and still the best iPhone navigation facilitator.
- Cons: Only certain apps are supported.
- Price: Free
The greatest complaint from iPhone users – perhaps from users of mobile phones of all manufacturers – is how rapidly battery health decreases and how much less of an idea about what’s going on we have the worse the battery health becomes. Battery levels start to fluctuate wildly, phones start to turn off for no apparent reason, chargers no longer seem to work as fast or as efficiently, as we’re always none the wiser about when or why these cursed phenomenons will start happening. Thus, having an app that monitors the quality of your battery is always a good idea to prepare yourself before the lights go out – and, if possible, detect and shut down what’s causing the problem.
This is why Battery Health – Your Doctor has been proven to be a valuable ally in the customization of your phone’s performance. The app makes it easier to identify over-consumption of energy from processes or other apps, allowing you to shut them down.
- Summary: A monitor for your battery health that can detect worn out batteries and test hardware functions.
- Pros: Great accuracy (up to 10% if your battery is worn-out), has a nice interface and provides precise runtime statistics.
- Cons: Due to Apple constantly blocking access to certain data, as of iOS 11 it can no longer display charger data.
- Price: $1.99
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It’s true the age of polyphonic ringtones is long gone, but we as people still like to customize our ringtones, setting them to our favorite song or to a particular funny message made to play whenever you receive a message, or perhaps only messages from a special someone. It may be very hard to find what you want in a sea of custom ringtones, and getting them to work isn’t the most straightforward routine in iOS and iTunes. There are still some apps, however, that allow you to customize ringtones and produce them from longer audio files, or have categorized sound clip vaults to help you choose.
Ringtone Maker is a good choice of free app to do that, as it’s focused on trimming audio files to make new ringtones and on providing a huge selection from which you can pick tones, filtering by category, length and much more.
- Summary: A ringtone maker with its own pool of premade popular ringtones to download and use.
- Pros: Has no ads even though it’s free, efficient trimmer
- Cons: Somewhat confusing interface despite having no ads due to weird category and filter naming
- Price: Free
When it comes to audio slicing, for the production of ringtones or otherwise, it’s comfortable to be able to record, play and edit the audio in only one app. A mini digital workstation is the ideal choice for the customization of your sound preferences, especially if it’s integrated to your iTunes library and other Apple devices. After all, the iPod Touch is still extremely popular and you might want to store your favorite songs there instead of in your phone. Thus, taking ringtone creation to a slightly more organized level is a good idea.
This is where Ringtone Designer Pro 2.0 comes in handy: when it comes to audio, it is one of the best iPhone customization apps out there. It’s an all-in-one audio program for all your needs, concentrating functions that would require a lot of apps and devices otherwise.
- Summary: A comprehensive, yet still simple, audio recording and editing app with which you can make unlimited ringtones.
- Pros: Works on iPod Touch, clean interface, precise trimmer for what you may need it for (0.2s tolerance)
- Cons: Has to sync to iTunes, which may be a little of a chore
- Price: $0.99
Settings that Allow Further Customization
Customization doesn’t have to end with apps. There are a lot of settings with which you can mess around in order to improve your experience with your iPhone and make it more personal. You can sort files, customize the ways you can interact with Siri – Apple’s virtual assistant – or turn notification previews forever to make notifications more bearable. Speaking of notifications, you can configure which apps can send them to you and which ones can’t.
Privacy settings are also a huge and understandable concern for most users, since you’d like to control which information about you Apple, or anyone else, is able to get. You may not want to share your location information all the time, for example. In order to allow protecting your privacy, there’s a setting that lets you disable location tracking by an app when you’re not using it. For the same reason, you can disable web trackers or set up a password to your notes. This is extremely important to make your iPhone and everything in it truly yours, but only yours.
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