iOS Exploit Allows Researcher To Add Animated Icons To Apps

Animated app icons iOS 17
Animated app icons iOS 17

A researcher has found an iOS exploit that allows developers to create animated app icons on iPhone’s home screen.

iOS supports multiple icons for apps that make it possible for users to change an app’s icon from within the app. However, animated icons are reserved exclusively for Apple’s Clock and Calendar apps only. With this exploit, third-party developers will also be able to take advantage of this feature.

The exploit discovered by researcher Bryce Bostwick still uses iOS’s official API for alternative app icons however it can change the app icon automatically without requiring the user to manually perform this action within the app.

By default whenever an app tries to change its icon iOS displays an alert to the user asking them to confirm the action. This prevents apps from changing icons automatically. This exploit bypasses that and lets apps change icons on their own.

The exploit also tricks iOS into considering an app as active even when it is running in the background, allowing it to change icons even when it is not in use.

While the exploit uses iOS’s system API for static icons, Bostwick demonstrates that you can change icons quickly enough to make it look like the icons are animating.

You can watch the researcher’s complete demonstration and explanation of the exploit in the video below.

With the launch of iOS 18 approaching we hope Apple would introduce a similar feature for developers to dynamically change their app icons and perhaps allow icon animations for certain apps that can benefit from it and display useful information right on the home screen.

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