Researcher Finds a Way to Create Animated Icons in iOS

Create Animated Icons in iOS

iOS researcher Bryce Bostwick has recently found a way to create animated app icons in iOS. The process involves tricking the system into constantly changing the app icon, giving the impression of an animation.

Currently, only Apple’s Calendar and Clock apps utilize animated icons in iOS, as Apple denies third-party developers access to this functionality. Third-party developers must settle for the Alternate App Icon feature, which allows apps to provide a set of alternate icons for users to choose from.

The Alternate App Icon feature severely limits apps’ ability to change icons. The change must be initiated by the user and only happens if the system verifies that the user has indeed taken the action. If the system fails to recognize the user action, it aborts the change. On top of that, users can only choose from a set of static icons, as GIFs and other animation techniques are not supported.

However, Bryce Bostwick bypassed the restrictions by finding an exploit that lets apps change icons without user confirmation. The researcher also modified the test app used for this experiment to always be seen as active, even when running in the background.

These adjustments allow apps to independently change their icons as many times as they “want.”The best way to showcase this is by combining multiple slightly different frames to create an animation effect. Check out Bostwick’s full process in the video below:

But as appealing as the animated icons are, we’ll probably never officially see them in iOS. Additionally, Apple will likely make changes to the system and render Bostwick’s method obsolete. Although there are legitimate use cases for animated icons, leaving them unregulated leaves too much room for malicious intent.

Even though animated icons will likely meet their end soon, there are still reasons to be excited about the future of our Home Screens. iOS 18 will bring significant changes, including the ability to change icon colors, improved icon placement flexibility, and more.


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