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iPhone + Icons

September 25, 2007
Chalkwork iPhone Mini-Set

Given that the last two posts around here were about the iPhone and icons, you knew what was coming next, didn’t you? The latest member of the Chalkwork family is a mini-set of 16 icons built specifically for the iPhone UI. Once installed, your iPhone looks like this. Oh, and did I mention they’re free?

Installation is a little tricky. You need to have AppTapp Installer and an FTP program. It’s a bit of manual file replacement, but nothing the audience of this site can’t handle. Full detailed instructions are included in the ZIP file along with the icons.

During the creation of this set, I was looking at Apple’s default icons closer than I previously had. They seem to be making a half-hearted attempt to use colour as an indication of the phone’s functions. Blue signifies an application that uses wireless data; Mail, Safari, Stocks, and Weather. Green means an application that uses mobile phone-specific features; Phone and Text. Orange is audio and video; iPod and possibly YouTube. And photo-realism means the icon either doesn’t do any of those, or isn’t categorized as doing just one.

iPhone icons sorted by colour

Figure: iPhone icons sorted by colour. Phone functionality is green, wireless data is blue, audio & video is orange, the rest are photo-realistic.

It’s inconsistent enough that it obviously isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it also seems a bit too deliberate to be random chance. Just an interesting observation, and I decided not to follow it too closely, but I did make a few token efforts with the SMS and Phone icons in particular.

So, two questions are bound to come up. First, why not make these a SummerBoard theme? (Update: done! Read the addendum below.) Maybe one day. As near as I can tell though, today there’s very little way to provide credit to the designer of a theme. Right now it comes in the form of the theme’s name, “Chalkwork”, and the short text description accompanying it (which appears to be simply “made by X”). Given the growing list of themes already available, that’s just enough to ensure each individual one gets lost in the crowd. I’d prefer a way to grab the package directly from this site, which would obviously have the added benefit of more exposure for the rest of the Chalkwork family. I don’t think that’s so unreasonable. I’ll keep on eye on how Summerboard themes develop, and if a method of putting more emphasis on the designer emerges, I’ll give it a go.

And the biggie, what problems does all this custom iPhone hacking get you into? There are two separate issues here: installing custom software or hacking the phone in any way (which this icon set and the instructions to get it on your phone fall under), and actually unlocking the iPhone. With the former, you essentially void your warranty… if Apple catches you doing it. You may be able to get away with it if you’re able to restore your phone to factory state before bringing it in for service. But it’s a risk you need to be aware of if you do anything to your iPhone beyond officially Apple-approved interaction.

And for those who are interested in the separate issue of unlocking for use on a carrier other than AT&T, here’s a mini follow-up to my past post on the issue. Emerging news suggests that the firmware update coming later this week will cause serious problems for unlocked phones. Now to be fair, it seems as if it’s more of a by-product of what the update will do, rather than proactive unlock retaliation from Apple.

The iPhone dev team who created the unlock in the first place is on it, they’re promising a way to re-lock the phone shortly, followed by a post-update re-unlock. The long and the short of it is, don’t update your firmware when the new release comes out, give it a week or two, and watch what the iPhone dev team does to make sure you don’t end up with a useless iPhone. Which is just repeating what I said in the previous post.

Update: Thanks to a nudge from Thomas Finley who packaged one up for me, I realized it’s stupidly easy to create a SummerBoard theme after all, and so v1.01 now comes with a package you can drop into your SummerBoard themes directory. Still not as nice as tapping your way to a theme directly from the iPhone, but my concerns about proper credit remain. Bonus: now comes with a dock graphic and (quickly whipped together not very inspired) wallpaper. Look for another update that smoothes these over a little more.


1
September 25, 12h

Is there a way to package it as a SummerBoard theme, but only offer it for download here? Surely there’s a way to plop the SB themes into the filesystem via FTP?

Credit issues aside, I also noticed that as people theme, they are now recycling icons from other custom themes (unless this is some automatic function based on the previous theme).

To me this is somewhat troubling, and my personal sentiment is that unoriginal themes (at least derivative work with no credit given to and/or approved by the original creator) shouldn’t be put on the repository. Those same themes also happen to generally suck, but it’s the principle, right?

2
September 25, 13h

Wow, those look great! Now if only I had an iPhone…

3
Dave S. says:
September 25, 13h

@Tom Finley - “Is there a way to package it as a SummerBoard theme, but only offer it for download here?”

Hopefully. I’ll be looking into that over the next few days as I have time. I’d certainly be inclined to go that route, it’s way less manual file transfer and skips the need to backup the defaults since SummerBoard handles that for you.

4
September 25, 17h

These look absolutely fantastic. I’d only ask to create one for the app that most will have to have installed to use this (AppTapp). It’s practically a default icon now :)

5
Ken Seals says:
September 26, 07h

These babies really shine on the iPhone screen. I’m loving the textures in the background. I can almost feel ‘em!

6
September 26, 10h

While I appreciate the work you put into this, you worrying over the credit issue comes off as a bit pompous.

Seriously, it’s a theme you made for your phone and you’re sharing it. That’s great and appreciated; but why do concerned over getting credit for it? It’s not like an icon package you’re trying to sell - it’s a theme for a hack.

7
Dave S. says:
September 26, 11h

“why do concerned over getting credit for it?”

I think I explained that. I want exposure for the rest of the set. Call it a loss leader. Call it marketing.

If you don’t understand, that’s fine.

8
September 26, 13h

In figure description: “audio & video is green,”

Don’t you mean orange/yellow?

9
September 26, 14h

You clearly have every right to not put it out there, but I just wonder how large the intersection is between people that come to your site for this theme and thos who don’t already know about your icon sets.

Then again, with that “if you don’t understand” remark my initial reaction doesn’t seem to be too far off

10
Dave S. says:
September 26, 15h

“my initial reaction doesn’t seem to be too far off”

I don’t know what you’re getting out of arguing my motivations for putting something I created out there for free on my own terms, other than a platform to throw out snide remarks.

Think you’re going to be able to insult me into changing my mind, or something?

11
September 26, 16h

I’m not trying to use this as a platform to make snide remarks; nor am I saying anything against designers, or anyone who creates anything for that matter, being able to delineate the terms under which they release their work. I didn’t mean to insult; hence why I said the actions were pompous, not that you were pompous.

As for this being an argument, I’m sorry you see it that way. I though this was simply an open discussion. I’m not quite sure I see the logic in the way you’ve decided to release the theme - especially if you’re trying to use it to drive people to check out your icon sets. In short, your methods seem contradictory to your goals. As for trying to get you to change your mind, why on earth would I want, or care, enough to do that? I clearly already read your site, so I really gain nothing by trying to change your mind.

However, when you respond to something with an air of “you wouldn’t understand”, it comes off as a bit insulting. Granted, this is the internet and nobody should take a blog comment to heart enough to be insulted by it. Apparently, one isn’t allowed to be the least bit critical of a position held by an a-lister; so let me fall a bit more in line with everyone else.

I love the icon set. You’re a superstar designer that’s taken the art-form of iPhone theming to olympian heights. Great work, thanks for the theme, and may I one day have the honor of bowing before you at SXSW.

12
Dave S. says:
September 26, 17h

Wow. Just wow.

We’re done here.

13
September 28, 06h

Well, *I* think that the icons look very nice, and I feel no particular need to antagonize the author… ;-)

Also, I find the “hacking” information quite interesting, even though I don’t have an iPhone –yet.

14
Optimo says:
September 28, 09h

Love the icons, Dave!
here’s to getting it to work on iTouch eventually (fingers crossed)

15
Jonathan Seeberg says:
September 29, 08h

Habla Mierda:

‘However, when you respond to something with an air of “you wouldn’t understand”, it comes off as a bit insulting.’

Sort of how “you worrying over the credit issue comes off as a bit pompous” comes off as a bit insulting?

“I didn’t mean to insult; hence why I said the actions were pompous, not that you were pompous.”

Actions aren’t totally separated from the person committing them. You can call anyone pompous for any reason, but if it’s unfounded, it’s an insult, whether you criticise a single action or a person’s whole life. You can claim it’s not an insult because it’s the truth, but you can’t claim it’s not an insult because you’re only criticising a small part of a person’s behavior.

“Apparently, one isn’t allowed to be the least bit critical of a position held by an a-lister; so let me fall a bit more in line with everyone else.”

Congratulations, you just lost. Personally, I’ve had more than enough of people who pretend that they “aren’t allowed” to speak their opinions, just because no one agrees with them.

Did someone hold a gun to your head and tell you to shut up? Did Dave threaten to sue you? Did he erase your comments or block your IP? Have your right to free speech in any way been compromised? No? Then stop playing the martyr!

16
Optimo says:
October 11, 22h

Thanks for the cool icons. Thanks to the latest jailbreaking they are running on my 8GB iPod touch. Just to let you know, here is a screencap. Smashing sexy good looks
http://img340.imageshack.us/img340/9463/ipodtouchsg3.jpg

17
Johan says:
October 13, 13h

Dave, you seem to be into icons today. Do you still design websites as well?

18
October 14, 15h

I absolutely love these icons! The attention to detail in them is just amazing, and they look splendid! I’ve only had my iPhone for three days now, but I’m allready certain that your theme is the one I’ll stick with for a long, long time!

Thanks for making it a SummerBoard theme as well, makes it a lot easier that replacing all the SpringBoard icons manually :)

19
Youuuuuuuuuuuuu says:
October 17, 23h

How about a chalky itunes icon now.

20
xxdesmus says:
October 25, 15h

Looks great, please please please keep creating icons! This icons are beautiful. I prefer them to most of the other icons I’ve seen so far.

Would you consider releasing the PSD you use to create these? (I assume it’s a PSD template)

21
indir says:
November 05, 10h

nice - any chance of getting more blank ones with coloured backgrounds? eg plain black/plain orange/plain silver?

22
Matty says:
November 06, 11h

Please release the PSD so we can continue this theme. Very good work.

23
Marko says:
November 28, 10h

Awesome Dave I just got a iphone a few das ago and your icons just rock!
Cheers!

24
Fantasy says:
March 01, 18h

Very cool icons.

25
indir says:
March 01, 18h

The attention to detail in them is just amazing, and they look splendid! I’ve only had my iPhone for three days now, but I’m allready certain that your theme is the one I’ll stick with for a long, long time!

26
Andy says:
March 02, 17h

Wow! Great job! Poor suckers without jailbroken phones will be jealous!