Why the iOS 7 icons look "wrong."

Discussion in 'iOS 7' started by Seandroid, Sep 9, 2013.

  1. Seandroid, Sep 9, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2013

    Seandroid macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2012
    Alright, so I need all of you to hear me out because I might sound crazy.

    I was making a mock up of what an "iOS 7-ified" Apple TV UI might look like, and I realized something about all of the icon gradients in iOS 7.

    None of them have any white or black added to them. All of the icon gradients move from one colour to another. From what I can tell, Apple's goal was to make the gradients look less like shading more like flat colour gradients. But... there's a problem with this. Colours, even with no white or black added, often look brighter or darker than each other. This is why some of the icon gradients seem to go the "wrong way," or why the App Store icon and the iTunes Store icon just seem to be somehow different from each other. It's because cyan seems brighter than both pink and purple.

    Here's an example of what I'm talking about:

    The top row of icons is how they would have been handled in iOS 6. Solid colour icons with black added at the bottom for shading. The middle row of icons are icons in the style of iOS 7 that I've modified to appear to be the same brightness. I still kept Apple's primary iOS 7 philosophy of having the colours move along the colour wheel but I added black and white to make them seem balanced. The bottom row of icons follow the rules of iOS 7. No black or white added to the colours.

    The top row looks fine to me, but it does appear to be shading or at least a faux 3D effect. The bottom row just looks wrong to me. The gradients look sort of... random. Some look brighter than others and they just seem uneven, somehow.

    I think the middle row strikes a balance but avoids looking like a faux 3D effect.

    Apple's new iOS 7 icons seem to follow extremely strict rules not only in regards to the grid, but also in regards to the colours.

    I think this might be why people think the icons look "wrong."

    It's why:

    This looks strange.

    This looks "right."

    This looks strange:

    This looks "right."
  2. NM08SRT8 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 18, 2010
    New Mexico
  3. WhackyNinja macrumors 68000


    Jul 6, 2012
    Kissimmee, FL
    Sir. We are on the eve of the GM release.

    No new icons are coming. Try again next year with iOS 8
  4. staticoranges macrumors newbie

    Aug 26, 2010
    I agree with this whole-heartedly. I thought something looked disjointed, and this definitely makes sense. I never liked that purple to pink gradient in the iTunes logo.
  5. Seandroid thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2012
    I know they aren't. This is more of an explanation. :) I'm not trying to change the icons. That's why "wrong" is in quotation marks. It's subjective. I'm just trying to give an explanation for people's' feelings.
  6. Oohara macrumors 68020


    Jun 28, 2012
    I think they just look vibrant and alive. Probably an aquired taste for some, though.
  7. evorc macrumors 6502a


    Aug 24, 2011
    Seriously? Man I wish I had this much time in my life.
  8. Spacial macrumors 6502

    Aug 29, 2013
    I read a recent article that said Apple chose the pastel colors and shaded notification panels because they will appeal to women in the USA and Asians in all parts of the world. If there's one thing Apple is extremely good at it's target marketing. Being a bit feminine will increase sales significantly, it's a good compliment to this small phone.
  9. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

    Feb 4, 2008
    Someone at Apple hire the OP. it's ridiculous how small of a change that was yet how much less obtrusive the new icons were on my eyes. I don't have a problem with them for the most part. But the damn pink music icon makes me want to cringe. You want to go all Jony Ive ninja on the colors, fine. But add themes to iOS so we don't have to look at one dude's visual barf. The Game Center icon almost seems like just a big middle finger to Scott Forstall instead of something useful.
  10. stooovie macrumors 6502a

    Nov 21, 2010
    On the other hand, correcting these "wrongs" (like Louie Mantia's or Neven Mrgan's "correct" negative spacing) creates perfectly bland icons.

    Apple's are a bit weird, but distinctive and... Iconic.
  11. Seandroid thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2012
    This is fair, but I still don't understand why, for instance, iTunes and App Store, would have icons that don't compliment each other well. As a whole I can understand why they would go for a more unique approach, but you'd think 2 icons that are almost identical bar colour would look harmonious.

    And, why do the blue icons have gradients that are FAR more dramatic than any of the other colours? Far more contrast than the rest of them. iTunes/Videos/Phone/Music all look fine next to each other, but as soon as you throw in a blue icon it looks... Strange. Out of place.

    It seems to me that Apple basically said "every gradient will be this many units along the colour wheel" but didn't really adjust for it visually.

    Like.... Think of it like kerning. Having every letter a mathematical distance away from each other looks *wrong,* because the eye doesn't see things that way. Having every gradient the same number of units along the colour wheel looks "wrong" because (for instance) cyan looks lighter than every other colour.
  12. mirzank macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2008
    Unless someone sits there, makes it a point to write a thesis and make sure they pinpoint the oddness of the icons (i dont tjink theyre odd at all) or the gradients or whatever for the sake of noticing wht is different, i dont think anybody will notice.

    Maybe im just not an artsy type (and im not in graphc design or IT industry at all either) but i dont think theres much of a difference. It is what it is and the difference is so minute to not be worth my time or brainpower. They could use your icon set for all i care and i wouldnt notice.
  13. tekno macrumors 6502a

    Oct 15, 2011
    Exactly what I was thinking. "I was mocking up some Apple tv icons..." Ha!
  14. jamesjingyi macrumors 6502a


    Dec 20, 2011
    Idk abut you but I have never looked that closely at the App icons... I just tap 'em :)
  15. Jett0516 macrumors 6502a


    Mar 5, 2010
    I get the feeling that Apple assigns one team to each icon therefore it never matches.
  16. Jakimo macrumors 6502

    Apr 25, 2008
    Colorado Springs
  17. CB1234 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 20, 2012
    Dubai, UAE
  18. Seandroid thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 21, 2012
    I don't really think it's fair to suggest that somebody's passions and hobbies are a waste of time. I like graphic design. I also produce music. I hope to make a career out of it. How is that wasting my time? Little details matter. Think of it as practise! I enjoy graphic design the way some people like drawing, or playing the guitar.

    Regardless, I enjoy reading all the differing opinions. :)
  19. The-Real-Deal82 macrumors 603


    Jan 17, 2013
    Wales, United Kingdom
    Looking at the pictures in the first post, I haven't got a clue what I am supposed to be looking at. I can't tell the flaming difference! :)
  20. barcode00 macrumors member

    Dec 25, 2010
    How are Apple hoping to convey this intention to app developers, who will be updating their icons?

    Obviously, consistency is the key to make it look 'right', so it will need to be upheld by all future app icons.
  21. tymaster50 macrumors 68030


    Oct 3, 2012
    New Jersey
    I wish I had this amount of free time over something so trivial :p
  22. mac1984user macrumors 6502a


    Dec 10, 2009
    United Kingdom
    This was a great demonstration and I think you really nailed the issue here. Don't listen to those others who demean your efforts, as one might ask them what they're doing 'wasting' their time on a rumours website. We all have our little passions in the end. Thanks for helping articulate what feels off about these icons.

    I think my biggest issue with the whole colour scheme is that they should have either done away with gradients altogether in a Windows UI kind of way or they should have maintained a bit of the former look with greater emphasis on other changes, such as gestures, drop-downs and - dare I say - widgets. My problem with widgets is that they may be the culprit for poorer battery life on my Nexus, despite the fact that I'm only using one for mail and calendar. There's probably a good reason Apple decided not to implement these. In any case, thanks again. Your observations are spot on.
  23. bushido Suspended


    Mar 26, 2008
    i see no difference besides the mail icon lol
  24. Phil A., Sep 10, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013

    Phil A. Moderator

    Phil A.

    Staff Member

    Apr 2, 2006
    Shropshire, UK
    It may seem trivial to you, but these little details are what Apple have been traditionally very good at and what has always made Apple's stuff appear more polished than the competition.

    It seems like they don't matter so much to Apple any more which is a shame as it will ultimately affect the look of iOS moving forwards
  25. JaySoul macrumors 68030


    Jan 30, 2008
    The obsession over icons this past few months...

    Just wow.

    Why haven't people gone into as much detail regarding the apps and functionality of iOS 7?

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