Title: 2185

Monday, Mar 16, 2009

March 2009

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LCARS on the iPhone

March 16, 2009
6:06 PM

So, I’ve gotten a number of e-mails today asking how they, too, can get LCARS on their iPhone. (LCARS, for the uninitiated, stands for Library Computer Access and Retrieval System – it’s the computer that they use in Star Trek: TNG) Now, while it relies on some fairly standard iPhone customization features, (winterboard, changing backgrounds and system sounds, etc…) I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy. It’s not. Especially if you’re used to the way you use your phone – it requires drastically changing some things, and it even goes as far as requiring some basic photoshoppery skills to work properly. I’ve got illustrator templates that I’ve got to keep maintained if I ever add an app – this isn’t what you’d call “forgiving” in that regard, but it works.

For starters, I got the idea after seeing a post on Gizmodo last week talking about it. In it, the guy doesn’t give info on how to do it, but mentions that he pulled a lot of the source material from elsewhere – one of those elsewheres is here, the other is here. I use kind of an amalgamation of the two of those, though I recreated the entire interface in Illustrator so I can modify it to meet my whims. :) To get this working properly, you’ll need to install Winterboard, Categories, and be able to SSH into your phone to access the file system manually.

The way this works, in a nutshell, is by making all icons transparent, removing icon labels, and then placing them over the LCARS background you make. In that way, pressing a certain area will perform a certain action. Categories are used to prevent you from having to have 4 or 5 pages of apps – you can funnel them into category pages, which have the ability to have custom backgrounds, so using the same theory of transparent icons over a backdrop, it’s not too hard. All you have to do to make an icon transparent is to copy the “transparent icon” file in that icon directory, rename it to the name of the app EXACTLY, and then upload it along with all those other icons.

Where it gets a little more complex is things like changing the system sounds – I did some searching online to find a bunch of LCARS audio files and converted them to iPhone formats. I also did some serious font hacking to get Swiss 911 Ultra Compressed converted over, so now my lock screen clock is ALSO in the LCARS font. :)

Realistically, at this point I’d say follow that guy’s youtube videos from the Gizmodo post, ’cause he said he’d have something up this week, and I’m eyeing his LCARS calculator right now, too. I don’t really have the time for a full tutorial, but you should be able to kind of piece things together from there. :)