Jun 11 2013

iOS 7 Icon Backlash: Designers Take to Dribbble to “Vent Design”


As is almost always the case when Apple launches new products or software, the web is talking. Except this time there’s a backlash surrounding something that Apple has historically been an industry leader in: Design. The social uproar is focusing on the new iOS 7 UI design – specifically the home screen icons. Many predicted that Apple would be taking the general UI of iOS in a flatter direction, beginning the process of putting to bed their long history with skeuomorphism. And they did. They went all the way. Some are saying Apple and legendary designer Jony Ive took things too far, but of course that (as always) is up for debate.

Some of Apple’s iOS 7 Screenshots

Before diving into all of the back and forth below, here’s what all the fuss is about.





The Social Response

If you’re like me it’s easy to become enamored with Apple’s presentation. After looking at the images above you may be drooling but the tweets/critiques below do their best to decry and pick apart everything they believe is wrong with the new iOS 7 update.









The feedback isn’t all bad though. Here are some people who think Apple is headed in the right direction.




Dribbble Redesigns

In a collective bout of impotent rage (again, mostly over the icons) many designers took to Dribbble to vent their frustrations via icon redesigns. Here is a sampling…


Concept by Zane David


Concept by Graphicure


Concept by Sam Beckett


Concept by Sameer Ahmed


Concept by Zach Forrester


Concept by Lewis Jones


Concept by Leo Drapeau (left) compared to the new iOS 7 (right)

What Do You Think?

Personally, I’m not as worked up over these changes as many of the designers featured above seem to be. Could the icons be better? Absolutely. Are the icons the most important aspect of the new design? No. In fact, as designer Joshua Sortino points out in his new post on medium, this new direction is (most likely) just the first step in creating a quicker design iteration cycle that over time will lead to an exponentially better user experience. That wouldn’t be possible if Apple hadn’t drastically simplified.

But maybe that’s just me…

What do you think?

About the Author:

Hi, I'm Nathan B Weller. I spend my time living and working at the intersection of web design, UX/UI and digital publishing. If you'd like to connect with me please feel free to hit me up on Google+, Twitter, Facebook or even my personal site. I'm here to help you get the most out of our blog and online resources so don't be afraid to start a conversation :)

Leave a Response

34 Responses

  1. Jun 11 2013

    I like it. Clean and nice to look at. It’s about time.

  2. Jun 11 2013
    Zane David

    Zane David here, an Interaction Designer featured in this article. I wouldn’t say (personally) that my own design comes from rage, dislike or the need to vent.

    As a creative individual, I’m constantly thinking, “how could I give that my own personal touch?” A new design direction (conceivably the biggest iOS design change) gives us (designers) the chance to re-imagine, re-create and personalise the future of design.

    Apple is the new Nike.

    • Jun 12 2013
      Waheed Akhtar

      If they wanted to make it flat, should have done this without those gradients. Google is definitely a winner in this case.

  3. Jun 11 2013

    Agree with the others and also think it’s the icons, they clash. Kind-of goes against the beautiful minimalist look Apple does so well.

    • Jun 11 2013

      I’m the Caesar that Nathan quoted. I agree completely that the home screen looks like a busy explosion of clashing icons. They do all look so different, when other companies tend to make them all of a theme.

      And I think that helps make it better. Every single icon is so different (while still following a common underlying set of elements) that it’s very quick and easy to find that one app when you want to, instead of seeing 20 blue icons, and finding the one with the compass instead of the one with the bird instead of the one with the the ‘A’, or trying to remember that the photos icon is a flower.

      Those other, more “consistent” UIs are almost like TV remotes, where it’s just a grid of similar buttons. Where’s the “input” button? Oh, it’s one of these 48 buttons, all alike…

      At first, it’s jarring, like seeing anything information-dense for the first time, but after using it for just a short while, it becomes familiar.

      At least, it did for me.

  4. Jun 11 2013

    I can’t help but feel like I’m looking at an Android UI in the iOS 7 screen shots. Maybe it’s the font and more pastel colors. Just like iOS 6 I’m really not excited about the update (that was mostly because of losing Google Maps).

  5. Jun 12 2013
    Lucian Mangu

    Ha ha ha! And everyone else bashed Windows Phone/Windows 8 UI! Don’t you get it that Microsoft designers are light years ahead of us? And they had the courage to do it first. Others just copy the same idea and implemented in their own way.

    Anyway, I’m glad that iOS7 looks like how it looks. People need to understand that if something is created based on a grid doesn’t mean is a good design.

    I know is a trend to bash Microsoft and everything they do these days, but stop and think for yourself once and see where the real innovations comes from.

  6. Jun 12 2013
    Harry Guinness

    I like everything except the icons. BUT right now, I have only three stock icons on my home screen. I have far more from third party developers. I don’t think the design of passbook or newstand is going to have a dramatic effect on the appearance of my home screen!

  7. Jun 12 2013

    I’m just not a fan of gradients in general, so the new icons do not appeal to me much. Do some of those screenshots with the translucency effect remind anyone else of the Windows Aero glass effect? There probably would have some sort of backlash if not enough attention was paid to the icons.

    And I like to keep my app-count to a minimum. Initially, the visual appearance of an app’s icon helps me to tell them apart. But over time, from memory with enough repetition, I find that I distinguish apps more by their location on my screen.

  8. Jun 12 2013

    The gradient does look weird on some icons. For example, the gradient on Mail icon makes it look like already pressed. And the color itself doesn’t feel right.

    I think the designs in Dribbble are more attractive.

  9. Jun 12 2013
    Jordan Tuzzeo

    Ya I just got the iOS 7 Beta version, granted there are some bugs in the beta it didn’t really break any of the apps I had installed already. The new features seem cool, I was a little disappointed about the air drop though apparently it can only be used with iDevices running iOS7 so that means currently they don’t support sharing files between your iDevice and Apple computer running airdrop. I was considering doing a little video run-through of the new features but not sure if its worth the time.

  10. Jun 12 2013
    Alupa Creative

    After working in the mobile space for the past few years, it’s disappointing to see the new direction. Design impotence aside, there’s nothing worse than having an itch you can’t convince someone else to scratch. Dribbble gives designers a (community selected) forum to not only express how they feel, but also put their money where their mouth is. The design by committee reports seem to be pretty on point with the final designed product, and offer a clear indicator that Steve is gone for good. As a dribbble designer, here’s my own particular bout with sadness at this loss. http://drbl.in/hVnM

  11. Jun 12 2013
    Lewis Jones

    Great article and thanks for featuring my work.

    I think designers were just really looking forward to a new iOS re-design with a flat UI, it was an exciting prospect. But we feel let down in the fact that the icons really don’t look polished at all and definitely don’t come together as a set. The new features of iOS 7 however look great.

  12. Jun 12 2013

    I love the new UX/UI. It’s awesome. I was a little taken aback at the new look. I don’t necessarily have an issue with the general design of the icons, more the colour scheme. It seems more than a little overly bright – girlie even. I wonder if the backlash is at the icons themselves or the colours used? They seem to, well, have somewhat of neon glow to them that I feel is a little too harsh for the clean design we’re used to from Apple. Then again, are we disturbed simply because it is so drastically different to what we’re used to?

    Thanks for putting up this article.

  13. Pingback: Criticism Too Soon: iOS 7 App Iconography | Overit Blog

  14. Jun 14 2013
    doug asker

    I have been testing iOS7 on my iPhone 5 for the past day or two. Being truthful I fell a bit tepid regarding the whole encounter. After many years of design innovation exactly why have Apple made a decision to make their OS look like a poor relation of Microsoft’s Windows 8. On the other side it seems to have borrowed heavily from Android. You can now swipe up to turn on/off WIFI, bluetooth, much like Android.
    In summary I like: Newsstand, the integrated flashlight, screen transition, new compass user interface and email interface.

    I don’t like: no bulk erase function in the mail program, it’s still message by message deletion. The pseudo windows interface and menu movement. The settings menu is a little a waste land of white space. Just like an aging married couple I am finding more faults with it as time goes on but I grow to like it the more time I devote to it.

  15. Pingback: Criticism Too Soon: iOS 7 App Iconography » Overit Blog

  16. Jun 24 2013
    Oliver Nielsen

    The icons are ok, though I’m not a fan of the overall mega-saturated, ultra bright color scheme. Then again, I’m not a teenager… But that last sentence really sums it up.

    What’s a big problem with iOS7 to my eyes, is the use of a white, thin, ultra light font, with low contrast to the often bright backgrounds.

    And the minimalistic pictograms in the weather app does little to help me see quickly how the weather’s gonna be, later today. Why make things SO simple, that they end being less easy to read / distinguish?


  17. Jun 24 2013
    Oliver Nielsen

    PS: Getting rid of Scott Forstall in the name of more peaceful meetings inside Apple, was a major mistake. Those arguments were a big part of what made Apple so great. Steve would have grilled this iteration of iOS7, yelled and thrown the prototype out the window. Then, after many discussions, they’d have turned up with something we’d all drool over, and adore.

    Scott Forstall was the anti-Ive, and that created balance and friction at the same time. A fertile soil for great design ambitions and fantastic results.

    Yes, the skeuomorphism of iOS6 was getting long in the tooth, but that does not make skeuomorphism bad alltogether.

  18. Jun 29 2013

    I went from Android to Apple and have never looked back. That said, I will admit that I’m disappointed in the IOS7 design. In my opinion the android and especially the Windows phones look cheap so I was hoping Apple going flat was a horrible unsubstantiated rumor. I like the textures of the current IOS. It gives the design character that the other makers don’t have. I’m okay with doing something fresh and new, but they took it too far. It’s just unattractive and I hope they really makes some changes before the fall. As far as the features I am excited about what I’ve seen so far. Will the ugly design keep me from getting the 5S? No, but I just won’t be as much of a fanboy as I am now.

  19. Sep 20 2013

    I thought ios was the user friendly operating system for the average person. They’re bringing iPads into schools because they’re so user friendly even for kids. If you take away the textures and shadows and buttons then you lose the ease of use. An example is that kid who freaks out on YouTube over the ios 7. I felt the same way. Apple’s operating system was beautiful. Now it’s flat and boring and a bit confusing. It doesn’t matter what the techies think because it’s the average person that’s buying the Apple products. What does the average Joe think? Bad move on Apple’s part. Apple’s gone from looking like Pixar to looking like Rocky and Bullwinkle.

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