Apple’s radically new set of default icons is probably the biggest point of contention surrounding iOS 7. Each new icon has been redrawn and features a new color palette that fits to a new design grid. While these new standards are not mandatory, most developers will likely want to rethink the way their icons are presented in a way that makes them coherent to the new user-interface of the operating system.
While looking around in iOS 7 and observing the redesigned user-interface, I expected third-party applications would feature the same familiar icons from iOS 6. This was the case in nearly every instance, aside from a few exceptions with icons that used the default gloss. Previous versions of iOS would automatically add a splash of glare to icons like most of Apple’s own apps, which adds a sense of depth to what otherwise is a two-dimensional plane.
Many apps already opted to manually remove the gloss effect as design trends moved toward the less ornamental look that led to iOS 7. It appears that the software automatically removes the gloss found in certain apps (e.g. Klout, Urban Dictionary), and I wouldn’t be surprised if the remainder of the gloss is removed by the time iOS 7 leaves beta later this fall. But what is most curious is a select few apps with entirely different icons between iOS 6 and iOS 7.
As one reader pointed out, iOS 7 seems to have a hammer built-in that is flattening existing apps.
Sleep Cycle and Dunkin’ Donuts were the first two apps I noticed having entirely different icons between the two versions of iOS. Both apps were on the latest version and came from the same file already saved in my iTunes library ruling out the possibility of varying app versions. My first guest was somehow each app was prepared for the new appearance in iOS, and deliberately implemented these new icons on day one. But reality quickly reminded me that of all the apps to be prepped for iOS 7, these two are highly unlikely candidates.
It turns out these new icons are both probably some sort of a happy coincidence that led to fitting in with iOS 7’s aesthetics a bit smoother. Sleep Cycle’s new icon is actually sourced to a file intended for promotional artwork on the App Store it seems, and Dunkin’ Donuts new icon is actually the image you see upon launch only masked in to the what makes a decent icon.
It’s unclear why the iTunes artwork and Default image were available as possible icon choices, but it is possible that iOS 7’s new icon canvas plays some role here. It is also possible that this is a coincidental bug that just happened to create improved icons on iOS 7.
What is clear is that iOS 7 is interpreting icons differently than iOS 6 in some cases, and each time the result is a “flatter” app than what’s shown on the App Store. Perhaps developers will have the option to optimize app icons for the user-interface of each respective version of iOS?