Customizing the look of your iPhone or iPod touch requires some tricks. That’s because you can’t truly, completely change the look of the iOS without jailbreaking your device. Apple’s tight security control prevents it. But that doesn’t mean that the smaller changes you can make are ineffective. In fact, if done well, those smaller changes can sometimes be enough to make your iPhone or iPod touch look like a whole new device.
With its combination of images and tricks, Pimp Your Screen excels at helping you create small changes that have a big impact.
What you need
An iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad running iOS 3 or higher.
- A huge number of graphics to customize your device
- Mix and match elements to create your own images
- Customize different lock screen elements
- Doesn’t actually change the look of your iPhone, just creates the appearance
- No way to change look of app icon
Choose your images
Fundamentally, Pimp Your Screen is a collection of iPhone wallpaper images that you can choose from and, to a certain extent, customize. When you launch the app, it offers you a set of options: shelves (graphics that make your apps appear to be sitting on shelves), home screens, icon skins, and tools to make lock screen and home screens.
When you choose a category, you’re then able to scroll through the dozens (probably hundreds, actually. I didn’t go all the way to the end) of options. You can also choose to turn on a preview of what the image will look like with your apps laid on top of it for even better customization.
When you find one you like, you simply tap Save. This not only saves the image to your Photos app where you can then select it as your new wallpaper, but it also pops up a handy set of instructions explaining how to change your wallpaper. While the process of changing wallpaper is fairly simple, it’s not well-known to all users, so these instructions are a nice touch.
Changing the wallpaper creates one effect, though working with skins creates another. While you can’t actually change an app’s icon in the iOS, Pimp Your Screen’s skins option is the next best thing. It uses special wallpapers that are designed to have the background image match up with the apps that will sit on top of it. Using these, you can make it appear that your apps are contained in frames of film or are racing from far in the distance right up to the screen.
If providing images to change your iPhone wallpaper was all that Pimp Your Screen did, it would be a fairly useful app, but perhaps not all that worth writing about. The thing that I think makes it worth commenting on is that it allows you to not only choose images but also combine them into new looks. While technically this may not be a cutting-edge technical achievement, it adds exponentially more customization options to the app.
When you choose the Home Screen Maker option, you begin by choosing the background image you want to use—including a photo taken with the iPhone’s camera or saved in your Photos app. When you’ve found that, you can then add a shelf, and if you want to complete the triple play, also add app skins.
You can do something similar with the Lock Screen Maker, except that it lets you change the wallpaper, the image under the time, the image under the unlock slider and add a calendar view.
One nice touch—not unique to Pimp Your Screen; any app that works in the same way has this—is that when you’ve created a look you like and saved it to your Photos app, you’ll always have it to use. As a result, you can create a library of custom iPhone wallpapers, store them in your Photos app, and then rotate through them when the mood strikes you without having to recreate them from scratch.
The bottom line
Pimp Your Screen doesn’t fundamentally change the way your iPhone or iPod touch looks. But the things it can change—the wallpaper, the graphics that surround apps—give the impression of enough change that your device really does look different.
Whether that justifies a purchase is up to you. Could you do the work of creating backgrounds and shelves and skins yourself? Are there sites all over the Internet that offer them for free? Yes and yes. But doing that would require a lot of time tracking down the right images, and the skills to manipulate and size the images properly. Why not try a customization app that saves you time?
Pimp Your Screen offers a lot of great customization options and doesn’t promise anything it can’t deliver or misrepresent itself. Instead, it supplies a collection of good images and provides a framework within which you can create your own images to customize your iPhone or iPod touch.