Wednesday, 16 November 2011

How to get rid of the dependency on Icon Project when using it to make iOS 5 shortcuts

The Icon Project app is great way to get custom app icons onto your home screen. In combination with iOS 5 exposing deep links into Settings, its a must have.

However installing the app from the App Store did make me pause and reconsider when it says "your icons won't work if you uninstall Icon Project".

Wow, I thought, one extra icon I have to keep around. Because once you have your icons, why should you need it?

Turns out that the URLs for the icons are redirected through the Icon Project app. Making them truly standalone is better and this is what I set out to do.

To do this we edit the URL back to what it should be before saving it to our home screen using the technique for Mobile Safari bookmarklets.

Create your icon as normal and when Icon Project sends you into Safari follow these steps:

1. Save the icon's web page as a bookmark (not on the home screen yet).

2. Edit the bookmark (tap Bookmarks, then find it, tap the Edit button and tap the bookmark).

3. Copy the Address text to the clipboard (tap the text, tap Select All, tap again, tap Copy).

4. Press the Home button and launch the Notes app. Create a new note and Paste in the text (the address is an embedded web page therefore it's easier to edit this way).

5. In the note, look for the URL starting with iconfactory:// ending with a numerical ID. Replace this text with the URL you want the shortcut to load.

6. Select All and Copy the text again.

7. Return to Safari. Select All on the address and Paste to replace it with the modified version. Save the bookmark.

8. Go to the bookmark. This will reload the web page with the new URL in it.

9. Now Save to Home Screen as normal following it's instructions. This icon won't require Icon Project to be installed.

Now you can delete the temporary bookmark you created but I instead recommend you keep it so you can quickly re-create the one on the home screen should you delete it and later want it back. Think of them as backups. You can move them into their own folder too if you want.

Now to prove it, you can delete Icon. Project. (Don't panic after proving your icons work simply reinstall it from the App Store Purchased page.) Icons created without being modified freeze on a white screen. The modified ones should still work.

Bonus tip: If you want some other icons, use Google Image Search in Safari, saving the icons you want to the Camera Roll (long tap and then select Save Image) then get the icons via the Camera button in Icon Project.