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Is Apple considering another round of major changes to iOS’s Home screen? If watchOS and tvOS are any indication, the answer could be “yes.” Earlier this year, Apple launched the Apple Watch with a purely text-free Home screen, requiring users to identify 20-some initial apps (and manually-added third-party apps) by icon designs alone. This month, it will release the fourth-generation Apple TV with a refreshed UI, again almost entirely eliminating below-app text in favor of redesigned icons with 3D depth.

While it would be easy to write off Apple’s changes to text labels as one-off decisions for “really small screen” and “really big screen” devices, they collectively raise an interesting question: if developers properly redesigned their iOS icons, would text labels — a staple of graphical user interfaces for decades — really be necessary any more? I’ll take a look at some of the pros and cons below…

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UPDATE: Apple’s site has reverted to the current icons present in iOS 7 beta. 

Apple has quietly changed some of the icons on its official iOS 7 website, making notable changes to the Weather, Passbook, and Reminders apps. iOS 7’s icons, which have been subject to much scrutiny and disapproval from various designers, have been one of the largest complaints about iOS 7 so far.

The icons, which can currently only be viewed on Apple’s site using a mobile device, most notably show a completely redesigned weather app icon, ditching the clouds and sun found in the current iOS 7 beta, in favor of the live temperature, something users have been waiting for for years.

Phil Schiller previously noted on Twitter that showing live weather on the iOS home screen would “waste battery,” but this is an improvement Apple has been working on for some time.

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