We’ve spent plenty of time bashing themes on Cydia, but it’s always good to focus on the ones that aren’t completely awful. Jaku (Japanese for tranquility) is a well-designed theme that stands head-and-shoulders above the rest on Cydia. The creator, William Szilveszter, spent more than a year perfecting each icon to make it “absolutely perfect.”
The theme was compelling enough to make us reach out to Szilveszter. We briefly talked to him about themes, customization, and iOS aesthetics.
Edited for grammar and clarity
Details of the Interview
What inspired you to make Jaku?
I have always tinkered with a design from the moment I could on my first computer. From Windows XP to Linux, to OS X, I would always find elements that I didn’t particularly like and find ways to alter them. With iOS, I found the icons to be one of the weakest components of the operating system, especially 3rd party ones. Jaku allowed me to fix that.
Is there any chance of legacy support for older devices?
No. I used to get asked this quite a bit, but not so much anymore (as non-Retina displays have started to fade away). Retina displays (or any HiDPI display for that matter) is the future. From a design point of view, the pixel density allows from some truly wondrous designs. To sacrifice that for what I believe to be deprecated technology is not something I’m interested in doing (I was a bit saddened the new iPad mini didn’t get a Retina display).
How difficult was it to develop Jaku?
The initial release of Jaku took about a year of development which ate up pretty much all of my free time. But to me, every minute was worth it. I’ve since more than doubled the initial icon count and have reworked nearly all of the original ones included in v1.0. Changes to the UI has also seen a surge of activity in most recent updates.
What was the hardest part of making Jaku?
I think the hardest part of making Jaku was having to constantly reverse engineer Apple’s implementations. It wasn’t as easy as just copying a PNG’s dimensions; I had to find out how they were used by iOS and that often involved a lot of trial and error.
What are your thoughts on the rumors of a redesign in iOS 7?
Apple has always struck me as an incredibly intelligent entity. They have a very well thought out reason for every single thing they’ve ever done. I’ve had a chance to talk with people that work there and they were all exceptionally good at their trade and even better at quantifying design.
The whole notion of “flat vs skeuomorphism” is nonsensical. The design relies heavily on scientific data in regards to the components of a system and how it’s tailored to the user in a given environment. Aesthetics do play a roll (mostly in user experience), but it’s the icing rather than the cake.
Apple may shift gears with iOS 7, Lord knows they do need to ramp up some aging elements of the operating system, but I seriously doubt they will make changes just for the sake of making changes. They’ve been chipping away at their operating systems (both OS X and iOS) for years now while others have been trying to reinvent the wheel, incrementally making them more concise (in true Bauhaus fashion), so I doubt iOS 7 will veer abruptly from the roadmap.
In your opinion, what changes could iOS use?
I’m not sure. Functionally, I’m quite happy with the current iOS. I think a lot of people want gimmicky things. Then again, I’m a minimalist. I would just like to see more optimization, fewer bugs, and perhaps a reworking of the stock icons to better make use of the Retina display. Or at the very least, to have them be redone by a small team or just one artist. I love the Passbook icon and would love to see that much detail given to the rest of them (especially the first gen icons like Calendar, Mail, Photos, etc.).
How popular has Jaku been?
I think it’s been insanely popular. Far more popular than I would ever have dreamed.
What would you like to add in future versions of Jaku?
I continue to refine each and every element to be absolutely perfect. That really is, and always has been my most pressing concern. New icons would trail closely behind that. Ideally, I would love to do every single icon of every decent app out there so that when a user installed Jaku, they could flick through screen after screen of 100% originally crafted icons.