Custom app icons are the latest iPhone trend, and they look awesome. People can give their iPhones a unique aesthetic with unique icons and widgets. There’s just one problem: Custom app icons slow down your iPhone.

If you’ve set up custom app icons on your iPhone with iOS 14, you’ve already seen this problem in action. But, if you’re thinking about setting up custom app icons on an iPhone or iPad, you should know what you’re getting into.

Update: In iOS 14.3, released on December 14, 2020, Apple has fixed this problem. The Shortcuts app won’t open when you tap a shortcut icon on your home screen.

Here’s the Problem in Action

Here’s what using custom app icons feels like in action: Whenever you tap one of your nice-looking custom app icons, the app launches slower than if you just used its built-in icon.

To create a custom app icon, you’ll actually have to create a special shortcut that launches an app. You create the shortcut, give it whatever name and icon you want, and then add it to your home screen. When you tap the icon, your iPhone will launch the Shortcuts app for a second or two and then launch the app you want to use.

All those nice-looking custom app icons will take you to the Shortcuts app first. All the apps on your home screen will take an extra second or two to launch whenever you tap their custom icons.

There’s no way around this if you want to use a custom app icon on iOS 14. (The problem is the same if you’re using custom app icons on an iPad with iPadOS 14, too.)

Let’s be honest: Apple never intended for people to create personalized app icons in this way. You can use the Shortcuts app for this because it’s so powerful, but Apple didn’t see this trend coming. It looks like a dirty hack because it is.

RELATED: How to Use Custom App Icons on Your iPhone and iPad

Yes, You Can Work Around the Slowdown

Sure, you can work around this problem. Here are some ideas:

  • Switch to recently used apps via the App Switcher rather than tapping their icons on your home screen, skipping the Shortcuts app. Swipe up from the bottom of your screen, hold your finger in place for a moment, and then release your finger to find it. You can also swipe up from the bottom of your home screen and then directly over to the app previews on the left—just don’t swipe up too fast or you’ll go straight back to the home screen.
  • Have one or two nice-looking pages of custom app icons on your home screen so you can show off. Then, add several pages of normal app shortcuts you can use to launch apps in the normal, quick way.
  • Set up a beautiful customized home screen with custom app icons and the perfect widgets and background. You can then take a screenshot, share it on social media… and set up your normal app icons again to have a speedy iPhone.

Of course, you could also live with the slowdown that the Shortcuts app introduces. Maybe you’re fine with the delays. It’s a trade-off you can make.

RELATED: How to Create Custom Widgets on iPhone

Apple Should Fix This, One Way or Another

Apple can’t be happy that the latest iPhone customization trend involves people slowing down their iPhones. You can get icon packs for Android phones, but they don’t slow down your phone.

Apple should respond by offering full icon customization options. People should be able to install themed icon packs and tweak their app icons—without involving the Shortcuts app and slowing everything down.

Or, at the very least, Apple could tweak shortcuts that just launch an app to launch that app immediately rather than going through the Shortcuts app. It should be possible to speed up shortcuts so they run more quickly.

Either way, though, the way it works as of iOS 14’s release is bad. Personalizing your phone is great, but you shouldn’t regret it every time you launch an app.

Profile Photo for Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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