iOS 7 Home screen

Since the moment Apple unveiled its completely redesigned mobile OS on Monday, the comments regarding its UI, and particularly the new icons, have been flowing nonstop. Some folks like the changes, and others refuse to believe it’s the product of Apple designers.

And as it turns out, the latter group may be right. Sort of. A new report is out this afternoon claiming that there are explainable reasons behind the strange-looking app icons and inconsistant UX in iOS 7. And according to insiders, it’s still a major work in progress…

Matthew Panzarino of The Next Web says he has heard from multiple sources that Jony Ive took a new approach to designing the UI in iOS 7. For starters, he brought in Apple’s print and web marketing design team to set the look and color palette of the stock app icons.

“From what we’ve heard, SVP of Design Jony Ive (also now Apple’s head of Human Interaction) brought the print and web marketing design team in to set the look and color palette of the stock app icons. They then handed those off to the app design teams who did their own work on the ‘interiors’, with those palettes as a guide.”

Panzarino goes on to say that, according to his sources, there wasn’t a whole lot of communication between various teams (like Mail and Safari), and there were competing icon designs within each team—both of which inevitably led to the inconsistencies we see.

iOS 7 (multiple iPhones, flat)

Why’d Ive take this approach? Well think about it. If you wanted to create a whole new look for an operating system, do you use the design team that has been making app icons for the old operating system for 5+ years, or do you bring in completely new blood?

The good news is, it’s still a major work in progress. Panzarino’s sources described the current iOS 7 beta as a ‘mid-stride’ snapshot, and said work on design and development is still in full swing. Apparently, even the build shown onstage Monday is newer than beta 1.

“Of the various aspects of iOS 7, the design of its icons and other visual cues are the most in flux at the moment. There are still refinements and conversations going on around them. I don’t know but would expect there to be a lot of fixes for the inconsistency we’re seeing in things like gradients and design language on the home screen.”

For more details, I recommend reading the full article over at The Next Web. But the basic concept of the whole thing is that this is the biggest change Apple has ever made to iOS. So we should expect the changes during the beta process to be similarly monumental.

And I think all of the dots connect here. Even if you account for the fact that designers were working on iOS 7 before Jony Ive took over last October, you have to think he tossed most, if not all, of their work out. That means we’re talking about a total rebuild in 6 months.

So if I’m trying to rebuild an entire OS in just 6 months, do I spend time worrying about the icons and the background textures, and try to work out every little detail? Or do I just get a solid foundation—an outline—down and spend most of my time on the OS itself?

I’d choose the latter, and it looks like Apple did too. And now it can spend the next 3-4 months fine-tuning iOS 7 with the help of millions of beta testers. It seems like a smart move, but we’ll have to wait until iOS 7 is released to the public to see if it pays off.

  • Mohamed Ibrahem

    honestly icon of safari is very ugly

    • Omar Hesham

      i agree with you safari is the worst icon , others are acceptable

      • Avery Massenburg

        I think it’s slightly better than the Settings and the Game center icon. They just don’t fit in.

      • Osama Muhammed

        i guess still better than the Camera one

      • Mohamed Ibrahem

        im my 4s there are some lag on new multitask and when opening phone is that will be fixed or it’s from heavy graphics of the system

      • felixtaf

        Will be fixed. iPhone 5 is laggy sometimes in iOS7 too… Main reason is its a beta build. Final version will refined..

      • Dany Quirion

        god…. its a beta wake up

      • felixtaf

        You dint read the full comment.. dont you???

      • George Yfantopoulos

        Game Center and Photos are the worst by far guys…

      • disqus_DYirGSHU5i

        I hate the Photos, Game Center, Camera, both iTunes and App Store, and of course Safari icons

    • Razin Yuzer

      Yes, its ugly.. most of the icons Im not really fond of but the UI of the apps is really good..

      • Ray V

        are really good *

      • Mohamed Ibrahem

        is for the UI not Apps 🙂

    • Nico Spatola

      It blows my mind that folks on the web are crtiquing iOS 7 based upon nothing more than the appearance of the desktop icons. I’ve been using iOS 7 on my iPhone 4S for the past two days and the icons are the smallest of the changes to the UI. In use, iOS 7 is all about frosted glass panels, truly gorgeous typography, and well integrated gesture based control. That said, the new icons are totally hit-or-miss and I hope they put it some work to get them right between now and October.

    • Pranav Shankar

      Icons is not the only thing wrong in iOS 7. Just saying

    • MrM0N0P0LY

      The photos app icon SUCKS, along with contacts! You can defiantly tell this is just a work in progress

      • brooks whiffen seale

        Photos icon is one of the best

  • Raul Henriquez

    Can’t please everybody

    • Mohammad Ridwan

      Most of the people aren’t please with the app icons.

      • Raul Henriquez

        You mean most bloggers

      • Mohammad Ridwan

        NO. Not bloggers but all kinds of People. Just go to Apple fansites like MacRumors, 9to5Mac, Cult of Mac and you see people are saying “iOS 7 icons looks like shit”. I consider myself an Apple fanboy (as you can see from my avatar).. and still I can’t wrap my head around the idea that the best industrial designer Sir Ive would even consider these fugly icons let alone approve it. It’s confusing and inconsistent.

        The whole “transparent UI” on gives me headache. It’s difficult read text easily when the background app is too noisy. The ultra thin ‘Helvetica Neue Ultra Light’ font which is used system wide is another thing that doesn’t make it easier to read. There are too much white space in the OS which is not easy on the eye either. And the iMessage app too ugly to even be on the Windows Phone.

        There are some good UI feature in the new iOS. But nothing terribly new. Most of the UI is sadly copied form Windows Phone OS, WebOS, Android and also Jailbreak Tweaks and then combined together. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but didn’t work out well this time.

        To quote The Verge’s Joshua Topolsky, “The design of iOS 7: simply confusing”.

        My complain is only with some of the UI design. Not the functionality. I love how iOS 7 works and super excited about it.

        I’m just hoping Apple Improve some of these UI before the final public release. But I seriously doubt that would happen. As history teaches us once Apple take a decision they generally stick to it no matter what…

      • Raul Henriquez

        Like I said bloggers. The rest of the 100,000,000 will love it.

      • Mohammad Ridwan

        Wow, you are literally too stupid to converse.

      • Raul Henriquez

        You don’t have to speak to me. Just accept my opinion.

      • Roger_Ramshit

        Without doubt you 100% correct….lets just prey this is a hiccup and Apple will quickly return to the sleek design and attention to detail we expect.

  • lemonhead

    Honestly don’t upgrade to IOS 7 just yet, it isn’t quite worth it to lose QuickReply & have a buggy OS
    I should probably also mention that it doesn’t run as smooth on my iPhone 4S then it would on someone’s iPhone 5…

    • ɑղժɾҽա

      It’s doesn’t run smooth on the iPhone 5 either.

      • brooks whiffen seale

        It runs pretty flawlessly on mine..

    • Burge

      That’s why it’s called a beta..

      • lemonhead

        I never said it wasn’t a beta…

        I just told people what my experience with it is so far

      • Burge

        Ok you know it’s a beta. But what did you expect.

      • lemonhead

        I expected it to be similar to the beta 1 from ios 6..

        Which wasn’t crashing so often 🙂

      • Burge

        Don’t expect anything it’s a beta ..and it’s a beta with big changes

      • BoardDWorld

        In use it was problem free up until I had auto update turned on. I ended up removing the apps that were trying/failing to update using iTunes then reinstalled them. Auto update is off and I’m back to stability. Otherwise it’s pretty solid “for a beta”. This is running on a 4S…

      • Caio

        Tottaly agreed with you!

    • Razin Yuzer

      But buggy Os is to be expected since its in Beta right?

      • lemonhead

        Yeah but it crashes quit often, so for people thinking about losing the jailbreak for this. Don’t do it 😉

      • Razin Yuzer

        yeah if its risking of losing jailbreak just for iOS 7 Beta then its not worth it. I mean not now, have to wait for the stable version.

      • Razin Yuzer

        Btw some people on other blogs didnt report so many crashes so im not really sure. maybe it depends on certain apps then? I dont know. people do not elaborate much at this moment.

      • brooks whiffen seale

        My has yet to even crash once, been using for a day and a half now

  • Brandon Weidema

    personally, if i could change the icons, id make the background gradients much more subtle and a bit less “Childish” looking :/

    • Razin Yuzer

      true, to me its a good UI on the apps itself but the icons really threw me off..

    • Maxim∑

      It’s literally the background wallpaper apple choose as default that’s causing that. If you choose something like the ios 6 wallpaper it looks a lot better

      I’m sure iOS 7 will change more than we think by September. Looking forward to beta 2 🙂

  • arturgrigor

    Hey guys, please write an article about “Reasons for why you should not upgrade to iOS 7”. I’ve just ended up in a situation where I can’t go back to iOS 6 because I’ll lose all my app data and everything else that is in iCloud. Once you backup your phone in iCloud or iTunes from iOS7 you won’t be able to restore it on any previous iOS version because the backup’s internal format is changed.

    • Burge

      So why didn’t you back up before you upgraded to a beta..
      The other one is people who use betas don’t really downgrade back there Devs..
      Then there people like us, none Devs but just had to have it.. …. but I’ve done this before and I know what can happen

      • arturgrigor

        As you can see in my previous comment I did backup my iPhone in both locations, iCloud and iTunes but the problem is that I had iOS 7 installed for more than 1 day and the backup that I did on iOS 6 was replaced by the backup that was made in iOS 7.

      • brooks whiffen seale

        Yes, me to, i beta tested without a dev account with ios 6 and bricked my phone, and fixed it.

    • leart za jmi

      Copy the backup folder from the directory in your computer and make a copy in desktop for example, so you can send back to the itune directory when you need to go back to ios 6 😛

    • quakan

      Other sites are way ahead of you. You should’ve waited for the public release or used a secondary iOS device, not your primary device. Lesson learned?

    • Mohammed Sahib

      iTunes typically stores the last 2 or 3 backups. So if the latest one is corrupted, use the one before it.

  • Boss

    Glad they didn’t use that ‘Black & White’ crap you keeped spamming us with for like a week or two I knew it was gonna be colorful from the 2013 Logo they was using

    • brooks whiffen seale

      theres actually ALOT of b and w… sorta bad

    • mehrab

      They used that inside the apps

  • Dave Weinstock

    Yes, obviously they needed some new blood and a fresh perspective to design the new UI, but they could do better than offloading the job to the marketing team. There’s a ton of great icon designers in the online creative community who could have been hired and done a much much better job.

    • Bob

      It isn’t just much about the icons, it’s about how it’s all been put together, the placement of the icons, the font, etc. It’s just not very Apple like.

  • Mohammad Ridwan

    I don’t believe it. Jony Ive clearly said in the video they ‘Developed’ the ‘Grid System’ to design harmonious icons. So it was well thought out.

    • Hell NO

      They also showed their design philosophy of the icons in the video.

    • Alex

      It was handed off from the marketing team to their design team to work out the innards using the palette and framework. Read the article more carefully.

    • Damian W

      it is funny how they brag in the video about beautiful icons and they are so ugly in reality.

    • SimonReidy

      Exactly. It sounds like a great excuse for a terrible reception to their horrible icons. I like a lot about the new UI, but the ‘icons all symmetrically aligned to a grid’ crap was embarrassingly bad. They look awful.

      Plus there is a section in Apple’s new iOS7 marketing video where Ive specifically talks about how beautiful the new icons are, so he obviously endorses them on some level.

      Its not the end of the world though. They just need to get some consistency happening, and ditch the ugly icons like Game Centre, Safari and the Camera altogether.

  • Mohamed Ibrahem

    i think apple could get the aycon theme makers better 🙂

  • Burge

    This iOS is a make or brake for me and so far I like it just how it is. It’s a refreshing change to see and use..I for one will keep on using the betas until it’s released to the masses ..thank you Apple

  • Mounir Toumi

    the settings icon? somebody explain to me how did that go through ???

    I think Steve would’ve fired someone that joked about making that an official settings icon in the all new iOS 7 in 2013 !!!!

    come on apple, you did a great job with ios, bring us some kick ass icons to the home screen and you get the thumbs up

    • brooks whiffen seale

      Settings icon is pretty cool

      • Mounir Toumi


      • SimonReidy

        What have you been smoking? And can I have some?

  • Hello

    Jony Ive made a bad choice. I think the icons are terrible!

  • EpicFacepalm

    Sorry but, none of the icons are good. All of them look like they had a “Powered by the Glorious Gradient Effect” motto. Funniest thing is, nobody seemed to like the almost identical leaked icons, and they were a little bit nicer.

  • The look was never the problem IMO, it was just the functionality that was lagging years behind the competition.

    A fix for just that (by integrating several Cydia tweaks into the stock OS) would have been a big enough and worthy change for me…but now that they’ve gone the fugly metro/crayon route, I’ll just have to hold off until a Winterboard/Dreamboard theme brings back the good old glossy looks. Only missing the Activation Lock functionality for now….

    • Vitaliy Anonymous

      Glossy is really old school design. In the design world, one design type should not last 6+ years. As good as glossy icons looked, it got really tiring of being the same thing.

      • Tiring to you. The design could be over 20 years old, but so long as it looks attractive, provides the functions I desire and there’s no nicer alternative available, I could keep it and utilize it forever (just like I would have done with Winodws XP had Se7en not shown up).

        If they want to change the looks, they should at least provide an option to go back to the old fashioned, yet better looking, style…

      • Kurt

        note mr. fanboy said “6” years because “Apple is perfect”

  • Matthew

    Is the beta really buggy and laggy or is it acceptable?

    • RyanB

      Acceptable on iPhone 5. Actually runs quite smooth IMO.

      • brooks whiffen seale

        I second this.

      • Matthew

        Thanks for the response! Follow up question: I am considering getting the iOS 7 beta. My issue is I have an iPad (4) and an iPod (4) so I can’t get the beta until Apple releases the iPad build in a few weeks. I will be away from my iPad and stuff from July 14-August 9 so I will only have the beta for about two months. What is your take on this? Do you think I should just go ahead and get the beta?

      • RyanB

        I would still recommend getting the BETAs, even if it is only for a month or so. Firstly, by this time we will likely be on BETA 3 or 4, which will be much more stable; not that BETA 1 is particularly unstable, but a lot of the bugs and glitches will have likely been ironed out by this point. And secondly, the UI and UX are quite polarising at first, so using a BETA version for a month leading up to the actual release will mean you’ve already had time to adjust to the changes.

      • Matthew

        Thanks that helps! I think I will get it because I am splitting the dev account with a few people so it’ll be like 15-20 dollars. Thank you!

      • Matthew

        Again thank you!!!!!! But sorry to be a bother but I have one last question. Sadly I do not own an iPhone (which I am angry about) and the iPad beta build isn’t out yet. I know Apple said the iPad beta will be out in the coming weeks. Knowing Apple this probably means a month. When do you think it will come out?

      • RyanB

        Your guess is as good as mine. According to Apple’s website, “later this summer.” I would have thought it would be released before the end of July if not sooner.

      • Matthew

        Well at the keynote apple said in the coming weeks. I thought that would mean by the end of June.

  • Al

    Somebody should’ve told Jony Ive that this is Apple not Android HTC One/Samsung S4!!! iOS7 makes Iphone looks like a Iclone!!

    • mav3rick

      As said somewhere, they’re now innovating by following. The only design philosophy seen now is take bits from everywhere, let bunch of people draw each one an icon at their choice and throw out a completely messed up mesmerizing rainbow look. Plus a lot of white screen.

      • Al

        If that’s the meaning of “innovation” then they can have it. Long live skeuomorphism!!!!

  • Joseph A. Ahmad

    “There were competing icon designs within each team—both of which inevitably led to the inconsistencies we see”. Yea, I think the Mail icon won that competition.

  • Anthony Antunez

    I hope they fix those icons. They are horrendous right now. Also I dislike that they no longer resemble their Mac counterparts AT ALL. They were so close to having iOS and OS X match and be a nice consistent ecosystem and then they completely change iOS. I hope they match up OS X with the new iOS eventually. They feel so distant from each other now 🙁

  • Adham

    I can agree that the version of the iOS on stage was newer than Beta 1. Messages.App does not work as the way it was shown. Excited to see what the new betas bring!

  • Alex

    “Why’d Ive take this approach? Well think about it. If you wanted to create a whole new look for an operating system, do you use the design team that has been making app icons for the old operating system for 5+ years, or do you bring in completely new blood?”

    That’s idiotic. Why use another team when they have been doing so well over the years? Did they hire an entirely new team to design the MacBook Pro, iPad 2, iPad Mini, iPod nano, or the latest Mac Pro? No. They invent, brainstorm, innovate, not hand off to another team that hasn’t done this before to do it.

  • Andrieux Querido

    Why Apple Why, its so Uggly

  • Amad

    Everytime i look at the home screen it feels like i’m looking at a kids colouring book.

  • Damian W

    icons design was the easiest job and they did the worst. Well hopefully it is gonna be easy fix, and they are not gonna overthink it.

  • momerathe

    that could explain why it looks like a small child has vomited a pack of skittles onto the springboard 😉

  • Samarjit Singh Mahurkar

    i really didnt pay 60 K for my iPhone and bloddy 50 K for my iPad so that i could get this shitty OS like ios 7.
    It seems like Apple had WINDOWED and SENSISED the latest version of its OS.
    Mostly it is borrowed from Windows Phone 8 & HTC Sense 4.0.

  • I hate the new Safari, App Store and iTunes Icons. So ugly

  • Tim

    The icons for iOS 7 are ugly. The concept flat icon designs are way better.
    Don’t know if I want to update to iOS 7, I most likely will because if the new features but I’m unwilling for the icons.

  • sunuk

    thats probably why they suck

  • Xavier du Coudray

    also, now, all the app icon that you’ll buy will clash with the native app icons, before, they all had the same feel to it. It seems to me as though now, when you’ll have the phone app next to your twitter or facebook app icon, they will clash, no?

  • seyss

    the old iCloud icon makes the current one look like a child’s toy

  • seyss

    that iPhone in the Car icon is so lame

  • Mohamed Ibrahem

    who agree with me that if Stevie jobs still alive this icon wouldn’t be here

  • Michael Conrad

    So Apple is going to change the look of iOS again before the official release? Apple? Don’t hold your breathe.

    Anyway, Ive is in charge of the design. Did these icons just accidentally get past him before WWDC? C’mon now. Besides, it’s not just the icons. There are other design inconsistencies besides the icons, like the control panel.

    IOS 7 isn’t a total disaster…if you like Candy Crush, that is.

  • just_visiting323

    These look SO BAD PLEASE DONT DO IT, people have to look at this awful awful UI every day. Send Jony Ive back to hardware.

  • Sunny Sandeep

    I honestly have no idea what’s going on with the Game Center icon. Apple ditched the whole glossy aesthetic everywhere but in those glass spheres, but they aren’t really special in any way

  • Willem De Puydt

    Give us al the pros but noooo ne design!!!!!

  • Carlos Gascue

    WORST DECISION EVER! It’s the first time I recognize Apple is copying Window’s flat design, following MS and Android tendences .. It’s like having the candy iMacs back to your desktop once you switched to metal ones.

  • adshorty

    Fire Jony Ive already.

  • Joseph Kool

    Ios7 looks like gay vomit

  • fjordprefect

    So about one year later and where are we now? iOS 7 still looks like it was cooked up by a first year design class at a third-rate art school on a very tight deadline. So there you go, all of you whiners who complained that the 5 year-old iOS was looking soooo old, well you got your wish, they changed it. Happy? I like detail, I like polish, I like to see that a huge amount of care went into a design, and that’s why I used to like both Apple’s hardware and software. Now, I just like their hardware. Epic fail, Apple, epic fail.