back to article Interwebs taunt Sir Jony over Apple eye candy makeover

What do we know today that we didn't know on Monday? Don't let Sir Jony Ive anywhere near your icons. Ive may be the world's most famous industrial designer, but his first attempt at creating a new look for iOS 7 has attracted confusion and mirth in equal quantities. Here's some of the brilliance that inspired the sniggering …


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  1. nematoad Silver badge


    You should really have put a warning notice at the top of the piece along the lines of:

    "Please use sunglasses before viewing this page."

    I'm just looking for mine.

  2. Moeluk

    That all the worlds got?

    Seriously...if thats all you can throw at iOS, - icons that don't appeal to everyone....then it's hardly a disaster.

    I'm pretty chuffed with the look to be honest..and the icons will undoubtedly get tweaked a bit between now and release.

    But hey it's the snarky interweb, so it's par for the course.

    1. Annihilator

      Re: That all the worlds got?

      I recall the same uproar when the icons for the el Reg forums changed :-)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That all the worlds got?



    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That all the worlds got?

      To be fair "It's not designed quite how I like it" is the main criticism of the Win Phone OS from Apple Fanboys.

    4. LarsG

      Re: That all the worlds got? @Moeluk

      I love it too, judging by the negative reaction from Fandroids who insist on buying Samsung phones with features that scream at you but don't perform, the design has hit the spot.

      The reaction is a barometer.

      The greater the negative reaction from Fandroids is an indicator that the iPhone has hit the sweet spot again.

      Jealous rage baby, jealous rage.

      1. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        Re: That all the worlds got? @Moeluk

        "The greater the negative reaction from Fandroids is an indicator that the iPhone has hit the sweet spot again."

        So you're at a restaurant, and you see that guy you hated at school in the far corner. He orders the Chef's Special, takes one bite, spits it back out and runs to the toilet where he's violently sick.

        Obviously, when the waiter comes to ask for your order, you ask for a double helping of the Chef's special.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    made-up icons

    Out of those 4 icons at the top of the article, 2 don't actually exist anywhere in the beta. Where did they come from, and why are people complaining when they don't exist?

    The rest: i very much suspect it's going to get more polish before it's launched. There's a lot that's obviously missing in beta 1, and some of the icons look very much like a 1st draft.

    Also, if you spend some time with the beta, what gets you isn't the bright colours (which are actually pretty OK in use), it's the large amount of flat grey that appears everywhere. It's a horrible wash of light grey wherever you use a folder.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: made-up icons

      Where did those icons come from? Well how about from the Apple conference itself.

      For screenshot of those icons during a presentation, see

  4. Matt_payne666

    I just saw some more iOS7 screen shots... and aside from the ghastly icons, I like the way they are flattering Microsoft, the new app switching, other than the upward swipe now bares an uncanny resemblance to the app switching in Win Pho8....

    I must be honest and I do like the look of the paralaxing backgrounds... those are quite cool, but I guess wont be available on pre 4s devices....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      I think you shrilling for MS is reaching here. Who the hell would copy a failed OS?

      MS have generated mirth by creating a grey-on-grey design (particularly in office) that has been widely derided as unusable drivel. Apple might have run out of ideas around the time that jobs popped his clogs, but at least they recognise that splashing some colour across the copying of Android functionality will make it slightly less obviously that they are now in 'slow follower' /'cash cow' mode.

      Oh, and BTW, changing the background colour on widgets and icons doesn't make it a new UI idea - it just makes it look fisher-price. Who know, maybe in a few years time MS can rediscover overlapping windows....

      1. Matt_payne666

        Re: Really?

        just an observation... you may call winpho8 outdated, but when you switch apps, the screens shrink, you then swipe side to side to select the app you want... much the same as the new app switching in iOS7...

        and standing up for one of the new iOS7 features, insignificant as it may be - the tilty parallax backgrounds is possibly the opposite of being an MS Shill

        1. Justice
          Thumb Up

          Re: Really?

          You seemed to be a little confused here, Matt.

          WinPho8 does not switch much the same as the new app switching in iOS7.

          The new app switching in iOS7 works in much the same as WinPho8.

          There, fixed it for you.

          1. Darryl

            @Justice Re: Really?

            Apple invented it, MS proactively copied it. Evidently your RDF is out of alignment. Please report to the nearest Apple store for RDF recalibration.

        2. clebin

          Re: Really?

          How quickly webOS is forgotten... That's where this comes from, including the upward swipe.

      2. Paul D Smyth

        Re: Really?

        Fisher Price is exactly what I thought when I saw the icon set. Let's call it Jelly Baby

  5. Steve Todd

    There seems to be confusion

    Over the difference between designing icons and designing how a UI works. As iOS 7 is still beta then I expect that things like icons are still subject to change (which is the easy job). How the UI works seems to be rather less well considered by the likes of Mr Orlowski. I'm going to hold off commenting on it until I've actually had chance to use it and decide for myself whether or not it's a step in the right direction.

    1. Jodo Kast
      Paris Hilton

      Re: There seems to be confusion

      There is no confusion. The topic is Icon Design, not UI design. And the icon design is drawing fire because it is so horrendous. (ymmv)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This has been hacked together in seven months

      That's when they fired Forstall.

      I'm overall quite pleased-for a rushed piece of work it looks very promising and it makes iOS 6 look very old hat. It's a bit rough but I've got the good kind of excitement.

  6. Amorous Cowherder

    “Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.” - Leo Tolstoy

    No harm in having at go at other stuff Jonny lad but you need people around you with the balls to tell you the truth that you don't have a golden-touch in everything design related mate!

  7. LinkOfHyrule

    So it was Jony Ive all along...

    ...who designed all those Happy Hardcore compilation CD covers back in the 90s!

    Smiley face 'cus its the rave scene init.

  8. spl23

    Having played with the beta, and as both a user of the iPhone since the first UK release and an ex-UI designer, I can honestly say that this is the best iOS has looked and worked, with one notable exception. The apps all look great; the removal of skeumorphism is long overdue and results in a much cleaner UI. The core changes to iOS like the Control Center are very useful.

    But the big problem is the design of the icons. I sincerely hope that the icons in the beta are placeholders for final designs, because they spoil the whole appearance of the home screen.

    It's not really the colour palette that's the problem; it's more that there is no consistent style to them. Some look like simplified versions of the originals; some look whimsical (Game Center); some are unnecessarily detailed (Compass, Stocks) - they don't all look as if they belong together on the same device. The big worry is that getting a nice consistent look to the icons is such a fundamental step in a redesign like this that if it hasn't already happened, I fear it may never do so, and releasing the OS with this icon set would be a huge mistake.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge


      Looking at the screenshots here, most things look clean and simple - it is only that Home Screen with its dodgy icons and unhelpful wallpaper - that look bad. The 'control centre' doesn't look too bad, but since it is translucent it is showing the garish faults of the homescreen that sit 'behind' it. I like the way it has four shortcuts to applications other than those that sit at the bottom of the homescreen.

      However, there's nothing there to make me switch from Android (though 3rd party hardware accessories and apps might tempt me)

      The screenshots of many of the applications remind me, aesthetically, of the UI on the iRiver Spinn:

      (the irony is, the Spinn UI looks 'Flat', yet is skeumorphic in that it resembles the dial of an FM radio)

  9. Syren Baran

    It´s not yet finished

    so dont bash it yet.

    In the final version all the icons will be inside <blink> tags!

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love that all the Apple guys are saying "flattery" when you know damn well that if this was Samsung, much stronger language would be used.

  11. El Presidente

    The UI is a bit .. y'know ... camp

    Just wondering if any of the design team are ... ahem married ..... can we say that these days?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The UI is a bit .. y'know ... camp

      I think they must be, because on this occasion it's a case of not being "good with colours"

    2. Michael Thibault
      Thumb Down

      Re: The UI is a bit .. y'know ... camp

      >ahem married...

      Well, yes, we can say "married". Some members of the design team might well be. Currently, we can talk about almost any pair of adults living in California as, potentially, being married... Next month? Depends on what the SCOTUS has to say on the challenge of the constitutionality of Proposition

      Wait, wait... Oh, I geddit: you're making an allusion to ... y'know ... sexuality and associated stereotypes--semi-obliquely, by way of reference to marriage, and the apparently unmentionable fact that these things are "Designed... in California". Tsk tsk!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The UI is a bit .. y'know ... camp


      If it was all brushed chrome and steel type textures and colours then that might well be a cue that the designer might have been a gay man. Don't know of any gay men who are "gay" when it comes to colour choices.

      And I know a lot of gay men.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The UI is a bit .. y'know ... camp

      Are you fourteen or something? You don't like the use of colour, so the design team must be gay?

      I really despair of the commentors here sometimes.

      1. Getriebe

        Re: The UI is a bit .. y'know ... camp

        @AC 16;19 - need for a picture of a parrot slightly *bent to one side with a few feathers floating in a gust of wind.

        * inclined

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The UI is a bit .. y'know ... camp

        The IOS home screen looks like the LGBT flag. I think it's a valid point.

  12. banjomike

    So it is NOT just Microsoft...

    ... that have recruited colour-blind talentless designers and testers with 2 left feet where their hands should be.

  13. St3n

    Those icons remind me of the original RiscOS icons on the Archimedes...

    1. Tachikoma
      Thumb Up


      Good call!

      I think I know what to do with my weekend now; create a RiscOS theme for my phone, now to find some iconsprites!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People forget: Icons should be iconic!

    One thing I think a lot of people who try to design user interfaces forget is that icons should be iconic - what they represent should be so immediately obvious that they need no explanation. If you have to put a tool-tip on an icon so people know what it is, you have failed.

    The problem is that designers try to use icons to save screen real estate, and so we get the sort of "mystery meat" icons that you see in the picture, because there's only so much you can express in that small a picture, and not every concept has a sufficiently iconic representation.

    1. JC_

      Re: People forget: Icons should be iconic!

      Everyone has to learn what an icon means; a 3.5" floppy disk means little to anyone under 20, yet people have learned that that's the button to click on to save, so even the most common ones require memorising.

      Ask anyone who's done the UI for business software or anything complex. It's quite hard, if not impossible, to represent all concepts and tasks in a tiny square image.

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Re: People forget: Icons should be iconic!

        Found a 3.5" floppy in the back of a drawer the other day and showed it to my kids. OH! they said, THAT'S why the save icon is that weird little shape!

    2. NogginTheNog

      Re: People forget: Icons should be iconic!

      In a touch UI aren't the icons at least partly there to provide a bigger 'thing' to prod with a finger? So to some extent being easily distiguishable from each other is as important, as people will soon learn what their function is?

    3. davemcwish

      Re: People forget: Icons should be iconic!

      "what they represent should be so immediately obvious that they need no explanation"

      Agreed. I like the (now derided) skeuomorphism in the iOS5/6 icons. Having said that I've never understood why the Safari icon depicted a compass overlaid on a map of the world when I'm not actually travelling anywhere.

      1. Darryl

        Re: People forget: Icons should be iconic!

        I'm not sure how a bunch of coloured bubbles represents 'Games'. Also, the new Settings icon looks like a floor drain cover.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: People forget: Icons should be iconic!- Settings icon looks like a floor drain cover

          That's pretty good, in that case. It suggests you are about to descend into the nasty stuff.

          (Though to me it looks like a retro car air vent).

      2. Archibald Trumpetbeetle

        Re: People forget: Icons should be iconic!

        You're circumnavigating the world .... wide web!

      3. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

        Re: People forget: Icons should be iconic!

        "I've never understood why the Safari icon depicted a compass overlaid on a map of the world when I'm not actually travelling anywhere."

        ... And then when Nokia used a simplified compass icon for their Map application ( ), one of the Tech Blog Superstars™ claimed that it was a bizarre and confusing choice, as a compass should mean "the web browser". (This despite Apple using the compass motif twice in the same context for two different functions: web and, er, compass)

        Personally, I have always hated the use of the 3.5" floppy icon for "Save" (it's not as egregious as "Yes/No dialogs", but it's in the same list). It's confusing because in an interface, the icons are objects, and thus nouns; an object cannot be a verb. As soon as you start trying to convey an action using a static object you're distracting the user with stupid rebus puzzles.

    4. julianh72
      Thumb Up

      Re: People forget: Icons should be iconic!

      However, it gets very tricky to design an iconic icon, especially when you remember that part of the goal seems to be to rid iOS of all vestiges of skeuomorphism. Think about it:

      A piece of 35 mm film with sprocket holes is a pretty standard icon for a video app - but when did you last see an actual piece of film? (Does that icon "mean" anything to today's kids?)

      A paper bag with string handles for a "store" app: What's a "shop"? And what do you need a bag for? (Don't we buy everything on-line, and a courier delivers it in a box to our front door.)

      An envelope for e-mail - what's an envelope?

      And what's that funny thing on the icon for my my e-reader app? It looks like a bunch of pieces of paper which are bound together along one edge - I have no idea what that is supposed to represent!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: People forget: Icons should be iconic!

      Which works perfectly well if the icon is representing something that exists in the physical world. But what would you use for Game Center? the concept doesn't exist in the real world.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'games don't exist in the real world'

        No, adults and children most certainly had no fun ways of passing the time before computers were invented.

        And there is definitely no enjoyment to be had in the modern world without the use some kind of electronic device to help us.



  15. Lallabalalla
    Thumb Down

    Designed by design

    Nothing shouts "bad design" more than design that shouts.

  16. Vimes

  17. RainForestGuppy

    Hello Helpdesk

    Hi it's Tim here, I'd like to log a call please


    Yes Tim, Tim Cook the CEO


    Well nothing is wrong with my machine, but could you lock Jony Ive's machine into Black and White.


    When do I need it done by? Well any time before he goes anywhere near IOS8.

  18. Paw Bokenfohr


    ...did Jony Ive actually design the individual icons?

    Because that seems really unlikely.

    He strikes me as a "higher level" designer. Someone who chooses the overall look and feel, not the guy who actually draws the icons himself. Surely they have a team of graphic designers to do that kind of thing? In the same way as it's unlikley Jony Ive drew the default wallpapers etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seriously...

      He does about as much design as Ballmer does management.

    2. Paul D Smyth

      Re: Seriously...

      Which is even worse because he clearly signed off on it

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please for God's sake!


    "Is there any reason a hardware designer, even a brilliant hardware designer, should be given a free hand re-designing icons?"

    He is not an hardware engineer, he is an industrial designer. There is a difference.

    1. Darryl

      Re: Please for God's sake!

      He's also not a rocket surgeon, but the article never claimed that he was an engineer

  20. Justin Pasher

    Keep them away!

    I an a former programmer turned IT manager, and I can definitely say one thing:

    Keep us away from the design aspect!

    It's one thing to IMPLEMENT the design. It's another thing altogether to MAKE the design. It's like the difference between a paint by numbers picture and a blank canvas.

    I'm sure hardware designers fall in the same basic category.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Keep them away!

      There are plenty of programmers and managers with design training.

      The problem is not programmers or managers contributing to the design. The problems are 1) untrained people of any sort working on the design, at least without experts serving as editors; 2) designers and stakeholders letting their egos and idiosyncrasies dictate the design; and 3) design that doesn't follow some reasonably-successful methodology, such as user-centered design or activity-centered design, and incorporate user research. (Problem 3 generally leads to problem 2.)

      Of course, even designs that avoid these problems won't please all users, if the user base is any significant size. I, for example, won't like any WIMP-based GUI, because I hate the WIMP paradigm. No set of icons is going to fix that.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ugh - here we go again

    I suppose now we can look forward to a fanboi North Korean-style re-write of history, and, you know, facts.

    I fully expect Jonny to be re-cast as a Jedi spirit-like being, helping and supporting Jobs as he INVENTED ALL THE THINGS.

    Wait - let's not stop at revisionism. Perhaps Iveology can achieve religion status, and give Apple the tax break they sorely need.

  22. Mage Silver badge


    A genius?

    He admitted he ripped it all of Dieter Rams' Braun stuff. What exactly has he invented that someone else less famous and with poorer marketing didn't do first?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ives?

      Typical of this country. Ive is a Brit abroad making the news often with his design and all the Brits can do is run him down.

      It's no wonder we don't have any world players in mobile and computing.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Ives? don't have any world players

        Because of the different Venture capital model. Sheer size of market, better Venture Capital etc means a dozen or so US companies are very dominant. For every one of those there are thousands of failures.

        Dominance of "Bean Counters" and the London "financial" trading has killed off many promising UK companies. Only Financial management, leveraged buyouts (= asset stripping) and Defence /Aerospace is valued in UK. Inmos could have beaten Intel but we threw it away. Clive Sinclair produced mostly rubbish, but more innovative than Ives, Even Amstrad / Alan Sugar couldn't believe how badly Timex produced gear for Sinclair when he bought them. When the Japanese came to set up TV plants in Wales etc they couldn't use UK parts. Quality too poor. Not a design issue but Bean Counters killing the companies.

        I know loads of Designers, Engineers (SW & HW) that have done more good innovation and development in a few years than J.I. has in his whole career, he got a lucky break and gave Jobs what he was looking for.

        How many Apple, Microsoft, Google etc are there anyway?

    2. Kristian Walsh Silver badge

      Re: Ives?

      I'm no Apple fan these days, and really not a fan of Ive's (actually Jobs's I suspect) fetish for 1960s Braun designs, but he did design the 1998 iMac, which was iconic and clever, and not based on previous work. Also, the G3 desktop with it's handles/stands at the corners and the very clever (in terms of "actual design") door at the side for access. The last black clamshell Powerbook G3 series (1998 to 2000) was also a very good design.

      On the G3's door, I remember us getting our hands on a late engineering validation prototype one of these (full enclosure plastics, but not in correct colours/textures), and needing to take the HD out, we started to undo the allen bolts on the corners that held the plastic cover against the metal enclosure. It was only after we'd taken all four off, and stood the machine up to better lever off the cover that someone said, "Hey, what's this little ring for", pulled it, and the side door opened. D'oh. The production unit's coloured plastics made it a bit more obvious....

      Also, the original Powerbook G4, with its titanium enclosure. That's a design that I hadn't seen anyone do before. The following models were just refinements on the theme of "make it a round-rect", but that model was fresh.

      The G4 Cube was an interesting product, but I feel that was Jobs's brief, and the engineering team made it happen with Ive left to dress it afterwards, and by this time, we're starting to see the Rams influence creep in.

      However, I will concede that his current output has got itself stuck in a rut. If I were him, I'd cash in my options and move somewhere new, where I could do something original again, without being smothered by the weight of what is expected of an Apple product.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What I can't figure out is this. Even if these are beta icons, and will be replaced in the final version, what were Apple thinking?

    Even your average home programmer, when needing some icons, will go along to a free icon website and download a set that meets their requirements, and will use the icons from that one set throughout their application. It makes it look consistent and adds a level of professionalism to it.

    Surely a company with more money than half the world's countries could hire someone to sit down and design a complete icon set for all their apps?

    Having half of them being bright colours on white backgrounds and the other half on blended backgrounds looks odd. It looks like they couldn't decide which way to go and ended up choosing some from two different designers' submissions, so they didn't hurt anyone's feelings.

    Beta or not, Apple are supposed to be very design-oriented and this is below standard.

  24. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Loved the DSOTM Cover

    Would go well with one of the more recent covers of it by the Flaming Pips. (or something)

    All that needs to be said about DSOTM is

    20th January 1972 Brighton Dome. First night of their 'Tour 72'.

    The start of an era. I still have the ticket stub.

  25. goldcd

    Leave the guy alone

    I'm prone to bouts of Android-fanboyism, but I like the new icons.

    Some of them like the settings sliders are pretty self-evident (I never quite understood how interlocked cogs represented adjustable settings) - and some of them (which I frankly have no idea what they do) are just damn-pretty. Press it a couple of times, you'll know what it does. Wait a couple of months and we'll all have osmotically picked it up.

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Interlocking cogs

      Represent the 'guts' of a machine, the inside, therefore 'settings' would refer to the inner workings of the machine.

      Makes sense to me - but I was a shade-tree mechanic in my formative years.

  26. JamesSmith

    Those that cannot do - teach.

    Those that cannot teach -manage.

    Those that cannot do anyhig - criticize.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      >Those that cannot do - teach.

      >Those that cannot teach -manage.

      >Those that cannot do anyhig - criticize.

      Those that cannot come up with an original thought plagar....plagiarse...... work for Apple :D

    2. Wam

      Those that can't teach, teach Gym (Woody Allen)

  27. YellowApple

    This is iOS?

    Round those corners into the circles they strive to be, and you'll have Firefox OS.

  28. ecofeco Silver badge
    Paris Hilton


    THAT'S the big news?


    No. Really?

  29. Lost in Cyberspace

    Dear Apple

    It looks nice and everything, but can be have accessibility options to turn off animation and translucency? I know people that have either visual problems or neurological issues (eg MS) that struggle with that kind of thing.

  30. j800rob

    I can't believe we're talking about icons...

    ...but I dunno about anybody else, but my smartphone has lots and lots of different apps on it. Those apps all have different icons. And there's no one theme running between them. So I'm not sure that it matters all that much there's no consistency in the icon set selected for iOS7...?

    Maybe for a brand-spanking new iPhone user who'll be ooh-ing and aah-ing at the sleek new OS it might make a difference, but after the first few minutes of use some more apps will be installed which will ruin the consistency anyway. Worst of all, some folk might refrain from install apps because they'll not follow the uniformity of a new out-of-the-box experience.

    Make each icon totally different from the outset; start as you mean to go on.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Saw iOS7 beta yesterday on an iP5

    my first thought was "Christ, that looks just like Go Launcher EX for Android". That was my second and third thoughts too. It is an improvement but it's hardly original.

  32. Bgfreeman

    Just bring back Susan Kare, already.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      She says she likes it!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    iPhone6 with iOS7

    On release it will be almost as good as the Samsung Galaxy S3. ;)

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not perfect, but an improvement

    Look past the home screen and a lot of it looks very good-a lot less cluttered, very clear and emphasising fonts, obviously been looking closely at Metro-but they annoying thing is it's better than Metro, it's so much less heavy.

    Looking at it, my iPad looks pretty clunky now and my Nexus 4 looks a lot less sophisticated (though the improvements from Gingerbread to Jelly Bean have been amazing-apparently Google grabbed basically the entire webOS design team and I can believe it). I can't wait.

    1. Robert Grant

      Re: Not perfect, but an improvement

      Weirdly I have the exact opposite impression: it really reminded me of Metro, but done much worse! Different strokes I guess; I like Metro's attempt to have high consistency in apps and better use of fonts than the current iOS beta, which seems to have its font weightings all wrong.

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