One of the lesser known features on iOS 10.3 is customizable app icons. What it does is give you the ability to customize your home screen icon for a particular app after it has been installed on your device. NHL and MLB.com at Bat have debuted the feature on their respective apps, the first to do so.
The feature is called ‘user-selectable icons’, and requires the app developer to submit image files when the app is submitted to App Store for review. The downside to that is that the developer has to do a full app update whenever they want to add more options for the icons.
MLBAM developed both the NHL and the MLB.com at Bat app, and has set it up in such a way that the user is asked to select an icon when the app is opened for the first time. The in-app settings can be tweaked to show a different icon later on, but it has to be one of the original images submitted by the developer.
The functionality is fairly limited, but we suspect that Apple is just testing this out on iOS 10.3. In the future, the customization could become more open and dynamic, but Apple needs to change its rules for that to happen. Right now, an app cannot change the icon on its own without user permission, which is effected by a notification pane. It’s a pain, in short.
Every app platform has its own iconography rules, and these are Apple’s design rules to make the experience as smooth for the user as possible. Randomly altering apps could confuse most users. In such a case, the app name is the only thing that will clue you in on what a particular app really is.
Now that these two apps have debuted the feature on iOS 10.3, we expect to see updates from several app developers just so they can bring some quirkiness to their app icons. Let’s hope Apple doesn’t stifle them too much.
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