If you’ve been running the iOS 7 beta, or have seen it up close, then you’ll be familiar with the ugly icon problem, in which some icons have janky edges thanks to a change of the corner radius in iOS 7. You can see the changes in this animated GIF from Czech site Letem Světem Applem (or something), which shows the design change as applied to the icons in the iTunes Store.
We’re a few weeks away from the final release of iOS 7, but it looks like Apple is starting to prep its non-stock apps with an iOS 7 update. This morning Apple released an update for Find My iPhone that comes with a new icon more fitting for iOS 7.
A few bug fixes were tossed in, but early reports claim the update has broken the app for non-developers, so we’d advise against updating right now. The new Find My iPhone icon was also added to the beta.iCloud.com homescreen, but hasn’t been updated on iCloud.com yet.
As someone who has been testing iOS 7 for months, I can tell you that when it drops, some app icons are going to stick out like a sore thumb. Why? Because icon design that looked good in the house Scott Forstall built are going to look really out of place in the house Jony Ive knocked flat to the ground.
Unfortunately, unlike on OS X, there isn’t an easy way to swap out an app’s icon for a custom one of your choosing. That said, a new app called Iconical has figured out a workaround. The app lets you customize your homescreen, no jailbreak required, by taking advantage of the custom URL schemes of over 14,000 apps. This, my friends, is a clever idea.
If you thought the switch from the squat screen iPhone of the iPhones 1–4 to the tall and slim screen of the iPhone 5 was bad, then wait for iOS 7. I have the beta in daily use on my iPhone, and when I go back to my iOS 6-encumbered iPad mini, it feels like I’m visiting my grandmother’s house. Worse: any apps with a lot of heavy UI chrome start to seem as oppressive as a serial killer’s basement.
Thankfully, there’s an easy fix in the simple and clean shape of Glyphish, a set of beautiful icons, illustrations and (not so hot) backgrounds.
With iOS 7, Jony Ive designed an icon grid that was meant to give developers some guidance on how to proportion their icons so they would look “harmonious” on the new iOS 7 homescreen.
As you can see above, though, Jony Ive has been using a similar mental grid to design Apple’s physical products for a long time. As Reddit user Kepano notes, however, Ive has probably not used this grid as a precise guide to design in the past.
“In my opinion as an industrial designer this image suggests that there are some intuitive similarities between all of Ive’s designs but that the iOS7 icon grid is probably the first time he’s defined those proportions so strictly. The fact that certain shapes match so closely (e.g. the width of the donut shape on the iPod) is probably not a coincidence but a matter of taste. What the image doesn’t show is that these products have radically different dimensions which is why the corner radii are very different from one another.”
“Officially the ugliest icon ever,” said one Twitter user in response to the app’s announcement. “Its icon isn’t home page worthy,” said another. Some used their available Twitter character counts to criticize the icon with even more ruthless efficiency: “That icon is ass.”
The icon was such a bust that less than a month later, Yahoo made the extraordinary move of replacing the logo with one that was even uglier. Despite this, the new mark was widely hailed as an improvement. Yet just last week, Yahoo updated its official Weather app again, and surprise! The original logo is back, with not a whiff of controversy.
Here’s why everyone hated the Yahoo! Weather app icon… and why Jony Ive and iOS 7 might have helped the design eventually get accepted by iPhone users at large.
Louie Mantia is a renowned icon and visual interface designer in Silicon Valley who has worked at big companies like Apple and Square. He was involved in designing many of Apple’s pre-iOS 7 app icons, like Trailers, Remote, Garageband, and iBooks. He even designed the Starbucks and Obama campaign app icons, for crying out loud.
The point is that this guy knows good icon design. He’s posted the above iOS 7 concept on his Dribbble, and I think it looks fantastic. He did the same thing last year for iOS 6. This time around, I think he’s nailed it better than Apple.
“Today, I revisited that original task and took about a day to understand the new style,” said Mantia. “Simpler, smoother, subtler. While I don’t employ the grid they created (and while I instead use the colors I chose), these feel interesting and balanced. Vibrant and bold, but not overbearing.”
Indeed. Please hire this guy back, Tim Cook. He gets it.
As the new Director of Human Interface, Jony Ive has gone from making beautifully beveled Macs, to redesigning iOS into a multi-layered Parallax operating system. By drawing from his deep well of hardware design brilliance, Jony brought a lot of his hardware philosophies to iOS, and the Messages app icon shows just how insanely detailed Jony can get.
As discovered by Brad Ellis, Jony made sure that the Messages icon’s corners have the same tapered edges which can be found on the iMac and other Apple products.
The difference is just a small number of pixels that most users would probably never notice, so Brad created his awesome comparison GIF so you can actually see the changes:
Okay, so not everyone thinks Apple has ruined iOS with its newfound support of flat icons and whacky, eye-stinging colors. In fact, some iOS users love the new look. But many think it’s a gut-wrenching mess. In fact, some hate it so much that they’ve taken some time to fix it.
User interface designers have taken to Dribbble to showcase their own iOS 7 concepts, and I think you’ll agree that they’re a welcome improvement.
You know what I’m hearing a lot of today? “Whine whine whine. Don’t like the icons. This really is kind of a mess.” And this, from our very own chatroom: “It hurts the eyes,” and “The hideousness of this is blowing my mind.”
It seems that a lot of people don’t like the look of iOS 7. But you know what? I love it. Sure, some of those icons are a little garish, but in iOS 6, all of the native Apple icons were hideous. And whatever you want to say about the new look, you have to admit that it is now way more consistent.