Famed Mac Icon Designer Says iOS 7 Icons Are a 'Good Direction'


macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Since its unveiling at the Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, Apple's new user interface for iOS 7 has proven somewhat controversial with pundits and fans debating whether the direction is a good or bad one. Earlier this week, it was reported that Jony Ive had put Apple's marketing team in charge of the look and color palette for the iOS 7 icons, bringing new blood and a fresh perspective to the operating system.

Network World spoke to original Macintosh icon designer Susan Kare and was able to get her thoughts on the new design:
Generally a good direction--am a fan of simple, meaningful symbols that fill a space, such as Music and Weather. It's better -- more iconic, less illustrative.
Kare's thoughts somewhat echo Jony Ive's comments made during the iOS 7 introduction video, in which he noted that simplicity, clarity and efficiency are some of the goals behind iOS 7.

Kare created many of the original interface elements for the Apple Macintosh in the mid-1980s, including the Chicago sans-serif typeface and the "Happy Mac" symbol that greeted early Mac users at startup. She now works as an independent artist.

Article Link: Famed Mac Icon Designer Says iOS 7 Icons Are a 'Good Direction'


macrumors 68000
May 25, 2012
Idk some are ok but some are pretty ugly in my eyes. I know I'm not the best icon creator and I know what they were going for but they missed a few times here's hoping they change a few before release.


macrumors 68020
May 28, 2009
Montreal, Canada
The general concept/artistic direction isn't bad per se, I think it's the execution that's lacking.

I'm all for clean-looking, simple icons, as I think most of us are, the problem is more with the weird color palette, exaggerated gradients with an inconsistent direction and general lack of consistency between the complexity of shapes, the level of flatness and use (or not) of metaphors.

I think it's a good thing Apple has reacted and justified the current icons, it means they are "fixing" things as we speak. In fact, the internal build Apple had when they released the first beta was more advanced than what developers are using today.

The new icons on Apple's website are defenitely better exectuted while keeping the same original design language. I want to see more of that:

It's still far from perfect but changes are made on the right path.
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macrumors 65816
Oct 4, 2005
Toronto, Canada
I think it's definitely the right direction. Kare seemed like she does still have some reservations, but definitely likes the direction they've begun. And that's definitely how I feel too.

I think we're going to see much better updates to iOS from now on. I don't know why, just a feeling. But I mean, they seemed so much more happier up there than with any other presentation since Jobs last took the stage. It's like they were no longer confined to something. They seemed to now have a real sense of where they want to take it, more of a vision for the future.

I really like how much more "alive" the OS seems now. One of the biggest things I felt with iOS was that it felt very static and stiff. While using it every day, and especially where there was heavy skeumorphism, I found myself wanting to use it in a way that seemed like it would/should work in that way, but did not. It felt very confined. For example, you HAVE to press the "back" button to go back. But a swipe makes so much sense, and after some apps started to have that kind of gesturing, I really started to want it in the OS as well and wondered why they never did that.

So even if there's a few crappy icons, I'm really excited about the future that iOS 7 is ushering in.

Time will tell of course, but under Forstal, things seemed to be going very slowly. Now I feel like things will be going faster, a focus on more important features, more gestures, and slowly perhaps even more openness.


macrumors regular
Nov 1, 2012
Probably a result of Forstall's sudden departure

Idk some are ok but some are pretty ugly in my eyes. I know I'm not the best icon creator and I know what they were going for but they missed a few times here's hoping they change a few before release.
I wouldn't actually mind if these icons were the final draft and we had new and improved icons in iOS 8

Forstall was kicked out in October of 2012 and since then they were scrambling to get iOS 7 out at WWDC. I believe that's why Jony placed the icon development in the hands of the marketing team while he worked on the other things such as app look and function. This was a last ditch effort to eradicate any trace of Forstall and I think it shows to those of us who pay close attention to these matters.

I don't think the general public will be too concerned. Shaken and put off initially? Sure. I think they'll get used to it over time and Jony has mind to tweak certain icons in future updates.


macrumors newbie
Nov 28, 2012
Back to the Future?

Personally, I quite like the new semi-stripped down look of the icons. I think it reflects exactly what makes Apple work - simplicity. While the more detailed, or illustrative, look of today's icon designs is generally pleasing, there is nothing particularly holy about it, or the look. Agreed, good direction.


macrumors 68040
Mar 28, 2005
I have a feeling that there will many more comments in this thread praising the direction whilst questioning the execution of some of what we've seen so far… that's certainly how I feel about it too.


macrumors G5
May 2, 2002
Change always hurts.

People hated the original shift from OS 9 to OS X, but in hindsight the look was much better, and continued to improve from there. As will iOS 7: what we're seeing now is just 7 months old and already looks amazing. Don't lose sleep over small details yet.

And beyond the look, it has great new features, and tons of new stuff behind the scenes for developers to be making great apps with.

I don't mind the new icons. Looking between the old and the new is a bit jarring! Good.


macrumors member
Jun 15, 2010
I'm glad somebody with experience finally expressed what I feel.

It amazes me how everybody is so ******* sure of themselves when it comes to design. Like their opinion is the de facto standard for beauty in the world. Get over yourselves. Design is hard. It's also something that one gets better at as one does it more. This is Apple's first stab at a different direction and I think too, that they are going in a cool direction.

To call something downright "ugly" based on your personal taste is bold and usually pretty arrogant, just saying.


macrumors 65816
Mar 20, 2011
Theres nothing wrong with the concept of iOS 7s icons, its the execution and finish that is almost non existent thats the problem.


macrumors 6502a
Feb 15, 2009
I dislike the new icons. They look if Microsoft hired a guy that recently discovered a paint pot. The new icons are also meaningless. Or do you know what the colored blots stand for? The old icons may look boring, but at least I can suspect what's behind an icon with a photo or an icon with a camera...


macrumors regular
Dec 13, 2009
Scranton, PA
One thing I can truly appreciate here is I finally feel for the first time in 7 years that I have a different phone in my hands. :apple:


macrumors regular
Aug 16, 2006
Famed mac icon designer is wrong.
Well, back then, especially on a b&w screen, I guess she did the best possible. But those Icons were ugly back then, too.

Strange coinsidence, maybe icons started looking good when shadows and high resolution became available? ;)

Just because Windows 8 looks more like Windows 2 than Windows 7 Apple doesn't have to go the same direction…


macrumors regular
Oct 22, 2008
Vienna, Austria
While the direction and idea behind may be right, what really shocked me was the missing constistency and love for details Apple is somehow known & loved for and which they also started to explicetly promote just now.

I really hate to stress this line, as it's more often wrong than true: but I strongly believe (and hope) that the state, in which they released the new icons, was much too early. I really believe that with Steve Jobs being still alive, this wouldn't have seen the light. There really seems to be somebody missing who dares to say: "Guys, this isn't ready for primetime yet. Get your asses back to the desks."


macrumors 65816
Aug 29, 2002
Tokyo, Japan
Quoting another site does not make a rumor a fact

jony didn't say that he had assigned the marketing team to do the icons

you make it sound confirmed

btw if apple is all about simplicity how did they icons get so busy in the first place?


macrumors 68020
Oct 2, 2007
I don't like them...seems like they are a bit all over the place. some are on-color icons, some are full bleed and others are multi-color illustrations and then there are some with blends of colors and then Game Center has some 3D effect going.

very strange and not consistent.

all that said, would this force me to jump ship? no.
Will I NOT upgrade to iOS 7? no.

i will use the apps and just know what the icons are. I didn't like when a few other apps changed their icons but didn't stop using them or delete the apps.

I liked the original Snapseed, not the Google version. I liked the Over icon before it is now....


macrumors 68020
Jul 9, 2011
I don't like her smiling Mac icon, nor do I care for the current Finder icon in OSX. It's no surprise to me that she'd be for the current icons...


macrumors 601
Sep 23, 2008
Famed mac icon designer is wrong.
Well technically she did not express much on the new icons. She merely responded to the artistic direction taken by the designers ('generally a good direction'), which is focussed on having simple and to-the-point icons rather than complex illustrations. She never said that the icons are good.