New iOS 7 Icons Were Designed by Apple’s Marketing Teams

iOS 7 is the biggest change since the launch of the original iPhone: they scrapped every sign of skeuomorphism to replace it with a lighter, brighter and more aesthetic UI. In a video posted on Apple’s website Jony Ive explains: “There is a profound and enduring beauty in simplicity. In clarity. In efficiency. True simplicity is derived from so much more than the absence of clutter and ornamentation. It’s about bringing order to complexity.”

iOS 7-beta 1

But how did they manage to do this? The Next Web decided to find out.

According to their information, the work flow was different this time. The new icons – subject to fierce debate since iOS 7 beta reached developers – were designed by members of Apple’s marketing and communications department, rather than the design team. The new look and color palette was set by the print and web marketing design team.

The result is pretty obvious: a new set of iconography which breaks with the old design language and brings welcome changes to iOS. There is a straightforward reasoning for the old design language though as highlighted by Wired:

Apple’s early OS metaphors were meant to teach people how to use computers. Likewise, the skeuomorphism of Apple’s early iterations of iOS was intended to make touchscreens friendly, non-threatening, and familiar. The reason iOS has always been restrictive — with side-to-side scrolling as the only real overarching navigation — was to make the first touchscreens too simple not to understand.

The problem now is that the iOS is no longer in the position of having to teach anyone about touchscreens. Even three-year-olds get them. The smartphone’s greatest problem today isn’t teaching people that there’s a virtual space for doing everyday tasks. Rather, it’s teaching people that they no longer have to use their computers anymore. The functions of phones themselves are growing even as the actual size of a phone screen is approaching its natural limit. Smart phones have, in many ways, exceeded the metaphors that used to define them. Thus, in order to do more complex interactions on the screens, and to keep those interactions uncluttered, you have to strip down the design language. This is what Ive means when he talks about “bringing order to complexity.”

Some of the reviews mention design inconsistencies when talking about the icons. It’s often the first impression with iOS 7. They are right, but I need to add that what we are seeing now is a work in progress. As TNW points out, there were some communication issues between the various teams and there were multiple teams inside each group competing with various designs.

In the end, what developers can test on their devices is iOS 7 beta 1 right now. There is plenty of time until this fall, when the polished version of Apple’s overhauled mobile iOS will reach users.

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  • FragilityG4

    I don’t have iOS 7 on my phone yet but I really having a tough time accepting these icons so far. Perhaps it will be different when its on my phone … I hope.

  • OliChabot

    Safari icon needs to be changed, Folders look needs to be changed, Newsstand icon needs to be changed, and the Photos icon needs to be changed ASAP

  • Al

    That second paragraph from Wired reads like a pedestrian pretending to understand abstract art. I glanced at a couple segments of the actual article and the phrase “talking out your a$$” came to mind.

  • Dj

    Get with the times grandpa

  • FragilityG4

    Well grandson considering I’m a Graphic Designer I would say I’m quite in with the times.

  • K3

    ..and yet you haven’t put them on your phone yet, so what your actually saying is it all Depends®.

  • FragilityG4


  • SV650

    I’m somehow reminded of a quote from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy describing the Marketing Department of the Sirius Cybernetics Corp…….

  • K3

    Are you a fan of the sunflower?

  • OliChabot

    I must admit I am… Or give us a photo book as an icon, but that wierd design we got right now just looks cheap…

  • diewithdignity

    i can stand most of the icon, but i really can’t stand the new safari icon

  • Stefan Vasiljevic

    The more i use ios 7 the more i like it. I had a same opinion about icons.

  • FragilityG4

    That’s what I’m hoping too. Everything else about the announcement I like and am excited for …

  • Otaku Xavier

    That’s really something.
    I am very looking forward to the next beta release.
    By the way, does anyone find the itunes radio??
    is it a feature or build-in app? I cannot find it in my iOS 7…

  • ryanrobert

    US Only. You have to have a US Apple ID to access it. I was able to change my location yesterday, close iTunes and then relaunch for it to work.

  • ryanrobert

    I agree. I didn’t put the new OS on my wife’s phone as I need to guarantee that she won’t have any problems with Beta software. I was using her phone lastnight and I’m starting to prefer the iOS 7 look and feel. Need a new Beta to take care of a few quirks, but so far so good.

  • Otaku Xavier

    I have signed in with my US apple ID.
    you mean close itunes store? or something else?
    I still cannot find it.

  • OliChabot

    Close your iTunes from the multitask and then open it again, and go in your Music. If i’m not wrong it’s in the music app.

  • It’s USA only.

  • SS

    the Safari icon is UGLY!! A 4yr old could have made that on MS Paint!
    Don’t know what they were thinking while approving it