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Apple developer portal now showing square app icons, not rounded

updated 08:41 pm EDT, Tue June 4, 2013

Possible change coming in iOS 7, supports 'flatter' style rumor

In a move that surprised developers, the Apple developer portal is displaying app icons as perfect squares with sharp edges, rather than the rounded corners normally seen. It is as yet unclear if this is a hint of changes to come in the forthcoming iOS 7 update -- which has been rumored to offer a "flatter" design eschewing most shadows and other "3D" effects -- or if it is a simple temporary removal of the rounded-corner "mask" normally covering the square icons submitted by developers while Apple tweaks the design.

The change, first reported by AppleInsider, has been seen as a potential hint of a change in the look of icons in iOS 7, which is expected to be previewed at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference next week but will likely arrive for consumers later in the year. A number of enthusiast designers have taken various stabs at what they think the iOS 7 "look" will entail, including some designs that are flat, two-dimensional and get rid of the rounded corners Apple has made a long-standing trademark of its hardware designs (examples seen below).

The latest version of the official WWDC app for developers is also seen to offer a somewhat "flatter" design than the previous year's app. In the illustration below (courtesy @yuize), the last three iterations of the app are placed side by side, with the newest one (benefitting from the clarity of the Retina display) showing a distinct lessening of any shadowing around the unpressed buttons, and a change in highlighting that relies less on a "3D" effect. The changes are subtle, but seem to rely more on a "grayer" background with more color highlights to call certain elements out than before. Gloss effects, less evident in the illustration, are also said to have been removed.

Very little reliable information has turned up about Sir Jonathan Ive's plans for changing the overall look of OS X and iOS in the next major releases prior to the conference. Ive was tasked with remaking the design philosophy of both OSes following the ouster of former iOS head Scott Forstall. Under Forstall's watch, and with the blessing of CEO Steve Jobs, some Apple applications in OS X and iOS took on a design concept known as "skeuomorphism," which seeks to recreate the look of real-world items. In some cases -- such as the "linen" background of the Mountain Lion login screen -- the style was seen as an improvement, while in others -- most notably the Address Book and iCal applications -- users felt the look hindered functionality and clashed with the polish of the rest of the OS.

It is worth noting that Apple's recent "Reminders" app -- launched on iOS and OS X -- may herald some of the current design thinking coming from Cupertino. The app features a dark black motif with very light use of shadows for depth on buttons and a mostly-flat design, however it retains a skeuomorphic element in borrowing the look of traditional lined writing tablets for the list portion. Color, however, is used mostly to bring emphasis to due or upcoming events. A recent screenshot that is purported to be of an early alpha of iOS 7 also (barely) shows icons with the same rounded corners, but lacking the shadowed "depth" effect.





by MacNN Staff

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  1. bobolicious

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 08-15-02

    ...I still like (miss) prefer aqua over ios, and my softer 30" cinema display...

  1. cashxx

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-13-09

    I hope Ive doesn't screw things up! Looks like Windows 8 to me with being plain and square and ugly.

  1. Mr. Strat

    Junior Member

    Joined: 01-23-02

    Hope it's not like that last Verizon shot...that's just butt ugly.

  1. pairof9s

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 01-03-08

    Boy...do I miss Steve!

  1. sixcolors

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-23-01

    pure bs... itunesconnect has messed up images many times before showing square or even no icons... that's what happens when you send in square images of your icon and Apple does some updates to their masking images... This is getting out of control.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by pairof9sView Post

    Boy...do I miss Steve!



    You LIKE the stitched leather and felt crap table?

  1. carloblackmore

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 12-28-05

    Keep in mind the WWDC logo shows tiles with rounded corners. Although maybe Apple will announce multiple themes for iOS 7 that allows the user to pick a style for their UI - classic rounded, new rounded, flat, etc.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by carloblackmoreView Post

    maybe Apple will announce multiple themes for iOS 7 that allows the user to pick a style for their UI - classic rounded, new rounded, flat, etc.



    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahano.

    Although…we all remember fondly when Apple last allowed users to theme their OSen…



    Except even then, they'd built a theming engine but decided — wisely — never to actually support it, nor release the in-house themes (which includes that pinnacle of tasteful and restrained design, Gizmo).

  1. besson3c

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 03-03-01

    Originally Posted by Spheric HarlotView Post

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahano.




    Rude.

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 01-25-07

    but sorta funny. ;)
    He did address your question with an actual example of theme "support" in a previous Apple OS.

    That isn't to say Apple couldn't revisit the notion and do it better, but I'd be willing to bet real money that it would garner complaints regardless.

  1. besson3c

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 03-03-01

    Originally Posted by Flying MeatView Post

    but sorta funny. ;)
    He did address your question with an actual example of theme "support" in a previous Apple OS.

    That isn't to say Apple couldn't revisit the notion and do it better, but I'd be willing to bet real money that it would garner complaints regardless.




    It wasn't my question, and I'm not anticipating that Apple will develop themes either, although it would certainly be nice if there was some middle ground to preventing all third-party hacks/modifications and requiring that you compromise your device to install hacks/modifications where something like this could live. Maybe the middle ground is something along the lines of use-at-your-own-risk browser add-ons/extensions - i.e. more public APIs, as Apple hinted to?

    I understand fully that Apple doesn't want the liability of having to deal with this sort of third-party stuff, but could you not argue that, in a way, pushing these sorts of mods to the fringes in requiring jailbreaking exposes security flaws in a potentially negative way? I mean, if Apple would allow advanced users to tweak their lock screens and do silly things like this, maybe the whole jailbreaking community fades to oblivion? It can't be good press for Apple that there exists this entire world of users that have completely compromised the OS in order to do something that in many cases is relatively benign?

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Nobody jailbreaks their phones. The jailbreaking community, huge though it may seem in absolute numbers, is an insignificant portion of users. It's very useful to Apple, as it helps expose security flaws, but the issues people used to jailbreak for have by and large disappeared over the years, as Apple updated their system. Hardly anybody does it these days.

    Apple won't allow theming. Their whole tack for the past 16 years has been about a controlled experience, purchase to passing it on.

    Excuse me if you thought my hilarity was rude, but every time somebody mentions theming, I remember Gizmo. And that was an Apple-DESIGNED theme.

  1. besson3c

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 03-03-01

    Originally Posted by Spheric HarlotView Post

    Nobody jailbreaks their phones. The jailbreaking community, huge though it may seem in absolute numbers, is an insignificant portion of users. It's very useful to Apple, as it helps expose security flaws, but the issues people used to jailbreak for have by and large disappeared over the years, as Apple updated their system. Hardly anybody does it these days.

    Apple won't allow theming. Their whole tack for the past 16 years has been about a controlled experience, purchase to passing it on.

    Excuse me if you thought my hilarity was rude, but every time somebody mentions theming, I remember Gizmo. And that was an Apple-DESIGNED theme.




    Maybe it's insignificant because those people are now using Android phones?

    I would say that in relation to the overall user base, jailbreakers at their peak were a very tiny drop in the bucket. However, the tech nerds can also create a buzz and a cool factor resulting in a lot of press around certain devices, and now, as has been said, the iOS devices have kind of lost that lustre for the time being.

    If I were Apple I wouldn't base decisions around what might re-establish that cool factor, because manufactured cool is almost always lame, and I also realize that what is cool/popular/trendy/whatever is a fickle thing. However, I think what Apple *does* need to be concerned with is appealing to developers. I thinking making new APIs public could be appealing to developers, as it empowers them. Developers are probably most interested in what will make them money, but there is no guarantee that this will continue to be iOS. There is a certain seduction factor with making apps that can be made available to the unwashed masses in the form of Android's sheer quantity of devices and users out there. Apple can go on about how they are beating Android in "usage" now and they are probably right, but there are no guarantees that this will remain this way forever. Apple users can also go on about Android malware, but people don't give a shit. If they did they wouldn't be using Windows.

    Being able to market apps as being able to do things that are not possible in iOS is probably a powerful motivating factor for development efforts to focus their efforts on making the ideal user experience on an Android device.

  1. pairof9s

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 01-03-08

    Originally Posted by Spheric HarlotView Post

    You LIKE the stitched leather and felt crap table?



    No, I miss the person who brought us the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, iOS, Mac OS X. I miss that ingenuity to design something that whispers told us of and thrilled our imaginations with possibilities...and yet still surprised us when he delivered. What I see here so far does none of that.

    That's what I mean...do you understand now? Because your approval is what's important here.

  1. besson3c

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 03-03-01

    Originally Posted by pairof9sView Post

    No, I miss the person who brought us the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, iOS, Mac OS X. I miss that ingenuity to design something that whispers told us of and thrilled our imaginations with possibilities...and yet still surprised us when he delivered. What I see here so far does none of that.

    That's what I mean...do you understand now? Because your approval is what's important here.




    Do you realize how silly it is to maintain this notion that Steve Jobs was singlehandedly responsible for all of this?

  1. pairof9s

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 01-03-08

    Originally Posted by besson3cView Post

    Do you realize how silly it is to maintain this notion that Steve Jobs was singlehandedly responsible for all of this?



    I'm not stating he singlehandedly created any or all of this. But it's even more silly to underestimate the impact he had, not just on the products but the culture, the team assembled, the message he wanted conveyed.

    But if you doubt, simply look at Apple the years he was not there.

  1. besson3c

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 03-03-01

    Originally Posted by pairof9sView Post

    I'm not stating he singlehandedly created any or all of this. But it's even more silly to underestimate the impact he had, not just on the products but the culture, the team assembled, the message.

    But if you doubt, simply look at Apple the years he was not there.




    It's good vision and bad vision, but there is nothing about good vision as it pertains to Apple that only Steve Jobs can carry out. He is made out to be some sort of God-like figure not only coming up with these visions, but in carrying out these visions singlehandedly via his infallible chess-like manoeuvring of everything that was always in step with his clairvoyant visions. This mythology is ridiculous. There are other people that can carry out the same vision, especially since so much groundwork has been laid, and especially so since Apple hasn't changed significantly since Jobs left and its strategies and course remain intact.

    Square icons do not represent some sort of grand new vision that would besmirch our god, Mr. Stephen Jobs.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by pairof9sView Post

    No, I miss the person who brought us the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, iOS, Mac OS X. I miss that ingenuity to design something that whispers told us of and thrilled our imaginations with possibilities...and yet still surprised us when he delivered. What I see here so far does none of that.



    Which release of OS X, and which versions of iOS released under Steve Jobs' tenure at Apple satisfied your criteria?

    And which iPhone release under his tenure?

    People cheered at the introduction of the App Store in iOS 2.0 because that function had been sorely missing.

    People cheered at the iPhone 3G because it was totally backwards to release the original iPhone without 3G in Europe. Apple had good reasons for it, but all regular dumbphones had come with UMTS for years at that point.

    Depending upon whom you ask:
    The 3GS was yawned at. The 4 was leaked and not a surprise. The 4S was a big yawner. The 5 - more of the same.

    Yeah, we got the iMac. In 1998. We got the iPod. In 2001. We got the iPhone. in 2007 (six-year boredom, there?). And we got the iPad in 2010.

    Steve was a great showman who could turn non-events into events, and Apple's internal culture is certainly bound to change somewhat now that he isn't there. He is missed.

    But Apple is on the track he set it on, and built in such a way as to continue on that track for a long, long time. Nothing we've seen since his death indicates anything other than the same performance as before.

  1. besson3c

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 03-03-01

    Originally Posted by Spheric HarlotView Post

    Which release of OS X, and which versions of iOS released under Steve Jobs' tenure at Apple satisfied your criteria?

    And which iPhone release under his tenure?

    People cheered at the introduction of the App Store in iOS 2.0 because that function had been sorely missing.

    People cheered at the iPhone 3G because it was totally backwards to release the original iPhone without 3G in Europe. Apple had good reasons for it, but all regular dumbphones had come with UMTS for years at that point.

    Depending upon whom you ask:
    The 3GS was yawned at. The 4 was leaked and not a surprise. The 4S was a big yawner. The 5 - more of the same.

    Yeah, we got the iMac. In 1998. We got the iPod. In 2001. We got the iPhone. in 2007 (six-year boredom, there?). And we got the iPad in 2010.

    Steve was a great showman who could turn non-events into events, and Apple's internal culture is certainly bound to change somewhat now that he isn't there. He is missed.

    But Apple is on the track he set it on, and built in such a way as to continue on that track for a long, long time. Nothing we've seen since his death indicates anything other than the same performance as before.




    Exactly. I don't understand this fear that Jobs is needed to stay on track while all of the other players remain the same. Are they going to all simultaneously go "ahhh, he's gone, let's party!" and transform Apple into some other company?

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    Originally Posted by besson3cView Post

    Maybe it's insignificant because those people are now using Android phones?

    I would say that in relation to the overall user base, jailbreakers at their peak were a very tiny drop in the bucket. However, the tech nerds can also create a buzz and a cool factor resulting in a lot of press around certain devices, and now, as has been said, the iOS devices have kind of lost that lustre for the time being.

    If I were Apple I wouldn't base decisions around what might re-establish that cool factor



    They never have.

    Geek appeal was always incidental to what Apple was after, although it helped the Mac enormously that the acquaintance-pool go-to computer geek would start recommending that people get a Mac, if only because they'd probably leave him largely alone if they did.

    Geek cool has never been important for iOS devices; on the contrary: Apple went out of their way to avoid it.

    The geeks aren't the ones buying Android devices, either: the bulk is being bought by totally normal folk because it's cheap, because sales guys thrust them upon people, and because people who don't need more than the dumbphone they had offered them simply have no other options and might as well get a smartphone, even if they never use any of its other functions.

    Geeks used to have a much higher proportion of the tech market because geeks used to BE the tech market.

    That's just not the case anymore, and most spectacularly so since the iPhone and iPad.

  1. chas_m

    MacNN Staff

    Joined: 08-04-01

    I think Steve Jobs was a once-in-a-lifetime visionary and genius, but if you're going to give him the credit for the hits, you must therefore also blame him for the flops. They were fewer in number, but they definitely existed -- and had Jobs' fingerprints on them as well.

    One of the things I like about Apple is that, unlike its competitors, they don't wait to see what's likely to be successful and then produce a lame version of that. They take risks -- and sometimes those risks don't pay off. Ask Ballmer how Windows RT is going as an example (a rare example) of another company trying to jump *ahead* of the median and it not working out (and yes, it's weird that I reached for MS to provide an example). :)

    To me, what Steve Jobs *really* did isn't about the iPhone or iPad et al, it's about creating a huge corporation that could still *take artistic and financial risks* instead of always playing it safe. That's his gift.

  1. Spheric Harlot

    Clinically Insane

    Joined: 11-07-99

    A good point to make.

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