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Apple's iOS 7 icons are ugly and a step backwards

I'll be blunt - the icons in iOS 7 are ugly. If Apple wanted to ensure that Samsung would never copy it again, it succeeded.

By Yoni Heisler on Sun, 06/16/13 - 5:32pm.

I'll be blunt - the icons in iOS 7 are ugly. If Apple wanted to ensure that Samsung would never copy it again, it succeeded.

While everyone is heaping praise upon Apple for implementing an entirely refreshed mobile OS design, the new icons that accompany said design are embarrassingly horrible.

Now, if Apple wants to move away from skeuomorphic design and lean towards a flatter aesthetic, by all means. But in the company's zeal to move in an entirely new direction, they, pardon the cliche, threw the baby out with the bathwater.

Apple-designed icons are often works of art in and of themselves. The icons in iOS 7, however, look like something a 10th grader might put together for a school project. The color palette is hideous, and the overall look of the homescreen is unbalanced, cartoonish, confusing, and again, ugly.

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Susan Kare: Apple's new iOS icons are a step in the right direction

At the same time, Apple, along with others who curiously are on board with Apple's new icons, can easily come up with flowery prose and ostensibly interesting diagrams that attempt to justify curious design choices. For instance, Apple writes on its iOS 7 webpage:

With iOS 7, every detail warranted the same rigor toward design. Like refining the typography down to the pixel. Redrawing every icon around a new grid system. And sticking to a precise color palette. On their own, these may not be details you consciously demand or even expect. But they all work together to create a more harmonious relationship between individual elements. And a better, more delightful experience overall.

That may sound nice, but it doesn't rescue users from the visceral and negative reaction that many people experienced upon first laying eyes upon iOS 7's new icon set.

As twitter user Kontra noted last week, "We shouldn't have to care by what department/theory/grid system/time pressure/etc iOS 7 icons were designed. They're confidence deflating."

iOS 7 represents Apple's first new iOS design without Scott Forstall and as Kontra noted in another tweet," icons should have been the easiest wins in the iOS 7 design overhaul. But since they're the most visible, the disappointment is amplified."

But enough talk, let's let the icons speak for themselves on an app-by-app basis. Below are some of Apple's more curious icon choices.


The camera icon from previous iterations of iOS was elegant, sophisticated, and, not too sound too much like Jony Ive, simple yet complex. Its replacement is just, well, simple. A boring image of a camera that looks like it would feel more at home in a collection of old-fashioned clip art.



I personally never found anything objectionable about the old, tried-and-true Notes app. But OK, Apple wants to change things up. I get that. But did they have to use such a putrid shade of yellow? What's more, when coupled with plain-old white loose-leaf, the new Notes app looks like drab epitomized. It's boring. It has no soul. It's mildly less skeuomorphic than its predecessor, but it's overwhelmingly dull. And while I'll save a look into the actual UIs of these apps for a later date, I couldn't help but post this photo comparing life in the new notes app vs life in the old notes app.

Screen shot 2013-06-14 at 12.31.08 AM

If I may harness Will Ferrell's character from Zoolander, am I on crazy pills here? In what universe could anyone possibly think the new Notes app is better than the old implementation. The image on the left looks like an unfinished mock-up of what a Notes app could look like with just a little bit more care.