Co.Design

Who Designed iOS 7’s Icons? Apple’s Marketing Department

In a bold maneuver, Jony Ive enlisted Apple’s marketing department to refresh the platform’s core icons.

Getting out of a design rut is hard. It’s why car companies take at least a decade to turn their lines around, while in the meantime, they just eat it in terms of sales. But when Apple wanted to refresh the experience of iOS under the new regime of Jony Ive, it didn’t have a decade. So, according to The Next Web, Ive took what might seem like a crazy approach in a company filled with some of the world’s best designers: He enlisted the marketing department. From TNW:

Many of the new icons were primarily designed by members of Apple’s marketing and communications department, not the app design teams. 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.

We’ve also been hearing that there wasn’t a whole lot of communication between the various teams behind say, Mail and Safari. And that there were multiple teams inside each group that were competing with various designs, leading to what some see as inconsistencies in icon design. Those may well be hammered out in days ahead.

Not everyone loves the new icons, but I think they’re vastly successful in that they’re driving a new palette that identifies iOS at a glance. Color branding is precisely the type of design concerns that Apple’s communications/marketing team are constantly sweating and strongly opinionated about--potentially even more so than Apple’s interface designers, who are probably more focused on making iOS an accommodating catch-all for the 900,000 app icons in the App Store.

What I don’t think most of the complaints about this new color space admit, however, is how iOS actually still allows you to change it. Most people will not experience iOS 7 as we’ve seen it in Apple’s marketing for the past few days, since transparent windows (which will pull your own colorful photography as a backdrop) and third-party icons will open the color palette back up to a brandless infinity.

In other words, Ive let Apple’s marketing department build the new face of iOS because, in effect, the face of iOS is little more than a marketing ploy anyway. In practical use, the iPhone’s new look and feel will be more often dictated and personalized by its users--thanks to a whole slew of choices made by Apple’s more traditional design team.

Read more here.

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50 Comments

  • Esmae

    I just updated my ipad & I loath the look & feel, morphed my ipad into a nightmare to use.I hate this design with a passion, the juvenile icons the horrible faint scrawl writing and the control bar
    I've used mac & the iPhone since osx - I'm going to protect my phone from this horrible ios 7 update even if I can't use it any longer.

    Imo whomever designed this trash is not looking out for Apple.

  • Happymac Service

    It seems that Apple has started an icon-drawing contest among their employees children (between 3 and 7 years only)... they are sadly awful :'(

  • FreshTS

    I am torn on iOS7, I think Apple made a good move with layering semitransparent screens of content, and is MOVING TOWARD good design. But, as many have pointed out, these icons suck. The gradients are far from consistent, and without Apple adding their "icon magic" to make glossy icons, I cannot imagine what app store apps' icons will look like... 

  • cileft

    I like the move away from the antiquated-looking 3D-ish effects but Apple seriously needs to get some better graphic designers. THese icons are unattractive at best.

  • Esmae

    Antiquated 3D, you must have a bone to pick with real life since it's not a kids flat drawing.

  • PhineasJW

    I'm pretty sure is someone had shown these to Jobs, he would have fired them on the spot, then walked down the hall with a flamethrower.

    I just can't get over that Settings icon. 

    It looks like the flywheel from the Starship Enterprise.

    And all while surrounded by crayon artwork and rainbow gradients.

    Just stunning.

  • Paula

    Down with that, PhineasJW.  Can't stand Apple's new My Little Pony palette... and I'm sure Jobs would have felt the same way. 

  • Raja S

    Thats why we need Steve. I hate iOS7. What is the use of retina display now, just to see some lines and circles? All lines and circles can be seen in Microsoft Books Online.

    It is a total stupid design. He should stop himself with hardware design. Cook stop now itself.

  • M42534209

    Dont get me wrong, I dont mind that they decided to go with a flatter feel. But the mismatched icons and the use of overly thin lines and general disregard for good digital design is astounding...

  • Chris Kelly

    As long as they change the photos icon (because its stupid and could be an icon for almost anything, even the new game center!) :)

  • Simon Rudduck

    Go and look at what colour palettes are popular in non-western countries. When you realise the obvious love of colour in these growing markets, I think the colour palette makes perfect sense. A lot of the criticism is happening from a purely western point of view.

  • Gina

    As where Apple is centered where Apple users made it famous, where it was designed in the West, please pandering to Asia?

  • CooperB

    Yes! Have the marketing department choose colors to attract the highly lucrative 13 year old teenage segment.

    That upcoming yellow MacBook Air is going to be so hot.Like, awesome.

  • Nat Scientist

    Maybe Susan Kare was that important beyond just the end of skeumorphimg. I don't see her name, the original chief of ocd design.

  • bilo

    Come on--you can spin it any way you want. Fact is Apple is dumbing down its "design". Apple is going for the WalMart/McDonalds demographic. What made Jobs and Apple great was to inspire, now the managers running Apple are appeasing.