in Icon design

A closer look at the iOS7 icons

We’ve followed Apple’s WWDC and have taken a closer look at the new version of their popular OS for mobile devices; iOS7. Here’s a closer look at the new icons from IOS7.




Line strokes



The opinion of four professional icon designers

Update (June 12th, 2013): We started this post without giving our opinion about the new icons and let the discussion live in the comments and on Twitter. We have reached out to some of the best icon designers around to hear their thoughts:

P.J. Onori – Iconic:

“I don’t think most icons are all that fundamentally different, just a different veneer applied. I know there’s been some criticism around the icons. I think this is a whole new aesthetic for Apple and it may just take some time for them to find their own unique approach towards this style. What caught me off guard the most however was that the icons in OS X Mavericks doesn’t seem to have the same style. It strikes me as very odd that a company so focused on a unified experience would have aesthetics, which in many ways are diametrically opposed to each other. That was the most glaring issue for me.”


“After the first look, I was shocked. I’m known to be a big fan of flat minimalistic & colorful design, but some of the icons are really just a joke (e.g. Safari and Settings). The new UI in general, will be very polarizing. Maybe it would be better to make rather few smaller steps than this radical jump away from skeuomorphism.”

Minicons – Vincent De Moign:

“Did the Apple designers have an LSD flashback? It’s a chaos of ultra bright, shouting colors and bubble-rounded icons. It looks childish, and the colors are so vivid that each icon cries for attention, giving a blurred “rainbow” effect. It’s difficult to identify each icon in this candy store.

For the first time, Apple seems to be following the trend instead of inspiring others.
A true failure … but it’s still in beta, right? Let’s wait and see the next iteration.”

Scott Lewis – Iconify:

“I spent a good portion of the day mulling over the new iOS7 icons, trying to sort out my thoughts and feelings about them. Yes, feelings. Design is as much about intuition and emotion as it is logic and strategy. The complete disunity of the icons surprises me the most. There is no stylistic consistency and an overall lack of commitment to any particular design philosophy. They look rather amateurish, to be perfectly honest. The colors are also confusing. There are bright spots, however. The icons in the Weather app preview look really good and work well with the typography. Overall the entire design just feels “unintentional” for lack of a better word. It’s puzzling, shocking, and disappointing.”

What do you think about the new iOS7 icons?

You can find all the iOS7 icons on Iconfinder here.


        • Abstract usually means an abstraction of something. That abstraction should have some reference to the thing being abstracted but doesn’t have to be a literal depiction. These are just made up shapes & colors that users will have to memorize. There is no established visual lexicon to aide users in understanding what the symbols mean. That’s not always a bad thing, but to completely throw out the well-established interface and introduce new symbols puts a heavy burden on end users and is probably a usability error.

          • I disagree. Out of the set above there is only one new abstract that doesn’t match the pre-existing icon – Game Center. The rest aren’t far off from the previous icon. In fact they are nearly the same. The designs are inline with the current times and design trend – flattened pop. Drop shadows replaced by .5 strokes, two color gradient blends replaces the opacity lowered black-to-white blend set to multiply. The color trends are more gourmet-jelly-bean-ish (just not the popcorn flavor – yuck).

            Ultimately these designs are simplified in design yet demand more attention in it’s color use. My only fears of this trend is it only works against white and its lifespan. I consider it to be a short one.

    • and flat icons are made in 3 minutes 🙂

      horrible icons..

      • clean and soft, new art of design, go check up google or other apps… also has this flat things, great job to apple, but i m more thankful to cydia!

    • Photoshop is too far away from this work,I think windows paint is having a better eye candy colors than this… very terrible

    • Less-time work doesn’t mean it’s a worse work.
      We like what people like, we design what inspire us. But just few people in the world are able to design following a philosophy and not other design or an inspiration. They are the innovators.

  1. God these are terrible. The entire interface looks (a) like MS Windows, and (b) like prototype quality work. This is very sub-par work from a company that has traditionally been a ground-breaker in terms of product and interface design. Very disappointing.

    • They are very close to the ones that were presented at WWDC today. I noticed some colors were different and the shape of the Music node is changed a bit. But overall these are probably very close to the ones that are going to be shipped with iOS7.

      • and why did you look for a grid then when they’re not from apple? grid doesn’t matter then.
        and if you look at the photos app, it’s completely different.

  2. These acid colours burn my eyes. Previous icons maybe had to change a bit, but not this way… Apple why do you do this to me???

  3. A scrappy confused job done. There is no consistent visual language amongst the icons. Some of the icons are abstract, while some continue being representative of the physical objects. Apple really should think up more, and deliver some flak to their icon designers.

  4. Agreed… Those icons look like Windows 8 mixed with Android by Samsung. I wonder which drug they used to do something like that, which is far from the beauty of the new Mac OS X 10.9 !

    • start doing it! jobs did LSD and look what good it turned out on the iOS.
      the new iOS is like it was made by someone on very nasty shrooms. the ones no one should ever take.

  5. New iOS UI is just horrible. I hope they will change everything before releasing an update.

  6. iOS 7 takes heavy influence from Win8 UI. Tiles/colors/sharp-edged boxes.

  7. I don’t like new icons either, or the new wallpaper. It would be nice if we could choose to the old ones.

  8. Agree, they’re horrible and look like quick made…

  9. Well for me I love this icons since I’m a minimalist designer. Looks neat and clean.– Less is more! 😀

  10. Never been a good icon designer, especially when it came to IOS (<7) icons style. But i think this opens a niche for my work. I can do icons like this :)) Easily!

    • I totally agree. And the game center icon with the shiny bubbles is getting out of line completely..

  11. Apple used to be frontrunner, sadly this is copy paste of google/windows design. Yes it is flat, oh and there is helvetica light, all in all bit disappointed… And for iOS itself, they added best cydia funcionalities… So copy paste copy paste…

  12. Yep )
    Mega-photoshop-scills is not already need for good USER EXPERIENCE design )
    so sad, isn’t it? 😉

    maybe Apple just realised that icon design is not just photorealism and candy style but something else more

    It’s good

  13. The safari icon is the worst of all, in my opinion. You remember your first reaction on the first iOS? It was probably “wow”! Now it’s “uugh” …

    • My vote goes for the new Settings icon.

      (Photos is the only one that looks half good.)

  14. Eeeee…….. Thats what I used to design when I started my Designing Career.
    Apple Inc. A BBIIIGGG NO NO for these icons………..

  15. The flat style of the icons isn’t what makes them bad. What makes them bad – horrible, in fact, is that there is no rhyme or reason to them nor any stylistic consistency. There is no consistent use of an underlying grid, no consistent use of line weights, no consistent use of shapes. The icons are being pretty much universally panned even by those outside of the icon design community.

    The new UI isn’t all bad. The Weather app looks pretty good. It looks good for adhering to the things I’ve mentioned above. But it’s confusing that the Weather app uses line icons, which contrasts with the app icons (more shape and fill, monochrome, except the ones that aren’t).

    Overall, this is probably the biggest misstep by Apple since the “Performa” clone days. Ive should know better. I’m just dumbfounded by this direction.

  16. I like new iOS, it’s example of simplicity and freshness in Mobile OS design.

  17. You all know that everybody will copy that icons later, right? Doesn’t matter if they are nice or ugly, everyone will do that kind of icons within a few months.
    And… I like them, maybe prefer a thick stroke in the drawings of a flat design, but these “thin” lines are elegant, and its shadow helps a lot visually. Besides that the design of the icons looks more standarized, not random as before.

  18. I quite like the new icon design, seems pretty fresh and modern.

  19. I’m pretty sure Steve would never have let this happen. Did Apple lost its good taste ? #BeginningOfTheEnd

  20. Personally if feels like they have it backwards… like the new icons are the old 1s and we’re getting the 1’s shown on the left… in that mindset… it actually feels like an upgrade

  21. People don’t like change, thats why you don’t like it.

    • I respectfully disagree. I not only don’t mind a change in direction but like the flat icon style. I’m not sure it’s the right direction for Apple and would have preferred to see them pursue the 3d icon approach, but I’m willing to accept the flat icon direction. The issue isn’t change, it’s that the icons are simply poorly designed. There is no stylistic consistency between them and no discernible design philosophy or concept behind the icons as a whole.

  22. Apple, что же ты наделала. Вчера нам явно показали, что значит гений Стива Джобса. Такое ощущение, что майкрософт заслали им дизайнера, чтобы он все испортил. Иконки ужасны, как можно было так извратиться над Сафари, фото, про камеру я уже совсем молчу… Надеюсь до осени поправят все

  23. Is everyone here a designer? Because no one should be surprised they made this shift in design. Flat is the trend, and by using transparencies, they’ve been able to retain a sense of depth. They’ve done an excellent job. Not everyone will be happy, especially with everything. I personally am not a big fan of the new folders and like many others, game center and the photos icons have me puzzled as to the abstraction they meant to convey. Overall, it’s nothing “new” as Android and Windows have already adopted this trend. However, Apple has expanded on it and made it their own. Furthermore, after finally including much of the missing functionality Android users have bragged and boasted about over the years, iOS has once again taken the lead. All the Android goodies and more exclusively “Apple” features that leave the Android OS wanting. Apple has always pushed the latest trends, and many times, created them. And each and every time, it took some people beyond their first impression to “get it.” And not to worry for those with strong opinions… Apple listens to their users. Beta means things can and will still change before the master release this fall.

    • I definitely embrace change and like when companies push forward.

      I think the main thing is that Apple usually creates really beautiful products e.g. MacBook’s and iPhones. The problem here is that almost everybody thinks that these icons are not visually pleasing. They could have been both flat and use a totally new color scheme and still be “pretty”. These icons are missing consistency, the choice of symbols are weird and I would put my money on that the general usability of the home screen has dropped. e.g. recognising the photos app is harder with the new icon – especially for new users.

      And you don’t have to be a designer to have an opinion about it 🙂

    • Actually, many of us posting here are, in fact, designers. And several of us are professional icon designers. Apple’s adoption of the flat style isn’t the issue. You will notice that several of our “Icons of the Week” on this blog have spotlighted flat icon sets. The issue is that the icons are simply bad. They are very poorly designed.

  24. Several folks commenting here have suggested that those of us who are panning the icons are being disingenuous and are really upset with change in general. As Martin said, change isn’t the issue. Personally I think change for the sake of change or to chase a trend is a misguided choice (almost always) but had they done it up to Apple’s normal standards, I’d be fine with it. The issue is that these icons are NOT up to Apple’s normal standards. They have historically been obsessive with their aesthetic and every design detail of the product, their marketing & branding, software, and GUI’s. They really dropped the ball this time around. They chased a trend and essentially came in last place. The icons are just very poorly designed. I don’t see how someone can dismiss the negative reaction when everyone who is panning the icons is almost universally saying the same thing. And it’s not just folks on this blog but on other major tech publications as well.

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