Apple’s worst icons

Apple has built a well deserved reputation for impeccable design in both its hardware and operating systems, but even the best designers can get lazy. Here’s a quick tribute to some of Apple’s worst icon blunders of the past couple years. (And please let me know if I missed any in the comments).

Sharing. Nothing says “sharing” like a… um… say, what is that? A “man crossing the road” sign? I can’t tell. It’s too small to really tell what it is, so we’ll have to guess. I think maybe it’s a baker bringing cupcakes to an orphanage.

Granted, Mission Control is kind of a hard concept to explain in an icon, and Apple wussed out by basically shrinking down a 1920x 1080 screenshot into a 50 pixel icon. I suppose if you already know what Mission Control is and does, it MIGHT be discernible. Well, at least they wrote “Misison Control” under it.

Front Row is supposed to be the digital hub for all your Media (music, photos, and Movies), but Apple decided to just go with a “movies” theme for its icon. that would be forgiveable if the chair they chose looked more like a movie theater chair and less like the IKEA POÄNG.

Date and Time. How could you screw up something as simple and, dare I say, “iconic” as Date and Time? Simple! Just put them in the wrong order. So now we have “Time and Date” for our “Date and Time” icon. You might think that’s nit-picking, but I bet Steve wouldn’t.

Seriously? I can’t believe Apple not only kept this icon for as long as they did, but they then made it even worse with the iCloud version. I thought we were getting away from brushed aluminum?

What the hell is this? Did Apple go to iStockPhoto and just search for “icons”? I could be crazy, but I bet if you polled 50,000 people, not one would be able to tell you what Qmaster did from looking at its icon.

iTunes never had a great icon, but iTunes 10, with its rounded design, is the worst of the lot. In fact, pretty much all of Apple’s circular icons blow.


I could ALMOST forgive these “Pro App” icons for their similar design (no doubt an homage to Final Cut Pro’s icon) if it weren’t for the fact that color, DVD Studio Pro, and Motion (which also came in the Pro bundle) all had non-clapboard icons. And what does a clapboard have to do with Live Type anyway?


iWeb. Nothing says “build your own website” like a corkboard. I really wish Apple didn’t discontinue iWeb, if for no other reason than to see if they could come up with a better icon. I suggest a spider (preferably wearing a top hat) spinning a web. With a cork board stuck to it.

Comments
17 Responses to “Apple’s worst icons”
  1. Aldo Johnson says:

    I’ve always wanted a POÄNG. :-)

  2. Jonro says:

    I don’t like Preview’s icon. It looks like something that belongs with a photo editing app. Preview is mostly about PDFs and PDFs are usually documents. How about a segment on Apple’s best icons. iPhoto, for example, is pretty clear about what it does. Mail is very recognizable, as are some of the others.

  3. Calder says:

    A nice laugh first thing in the morning. Thanks Doc!

  4. Armchair says:

    Easy to sit on the sideline and toss barbs rather than actually get in there and make
    something better. You’re just a troll with a byline.

  5. Rick says:

    My guess is that the Sharing icon is supposed to represent ‘SneakerNet’.

  6. Sponge says:

    What about the Finder? The icon isn’t ugly or anything, but it doesn’t make sense. As I recall, it originated at the time of the clones, and was meant to reflect the clones’ co-existence with Apple-made Macs. Now it just makes me think of a schizophrenic, albeit a happy one.

  7. Mark says:

    I don’t mind the iTunes icon per se but the name itself and the musical note are now confusing. My mum can’t get her head around the fact that her music is in iTunes on her computer, but in the iPod app on her iPad, and I don’t blame her! Similarly the App Store is in iTunes on the mac, but is a separate app on the iPad, whereas movies are bought from iTunes (despite not being tunes) on both, but are played in the Movies app on the iPad and not in iMovie on the mac! iConfused.

  8. Ken says:

    i like the iTunes icon. I’ve optimized my dock so that it has the following programs in this order:

    Finder
    Time Machine
    iTunes
    Safari
    Mail
    Address Book
    iCal
    System Preferences

    It’s a very attractive progression. To the right I have folders as follows:

    Adobe programs
    iWork programs, including a subfolder for Microsoft Office
    Commonly used applications
    Commonly used utilities

    The Mac App store needs no icon, because it is in the Apple menu. Mission Control, Dashboard, and LaunchPad are mapped to function keys, so they don’t need icons.

    For seldom-used programs I use the old LaunchPad by pressing Shift-Cmd-A and selecting the icon, or the new LaunchPad by pressing a function key and selecting the icon.

    I didn’t’ like the iTunes icon at first, either, but it fits with the other icons in my Dock very attractively.

  9. noibs says:

    Completely argree on all points made.

    When I look in my current dock, the iTunes icon just stands out and screams “I don’t belong here.” It sucks so bad.

  10. Ross Parker says:

    iTunes 10 has a much better icon than all the others. The blue goes well with my Mac’s menu scheme. And iWeb has a cork-board because they’re trying to show people that using iWeb is as easy os pinning things up.

  11. Brau says:

    When I look at the Qmaster icon I definitely see Apple Jacks. MMmm.

  12. Killer's Dad says:

    I hate the iTunes icon so much, I copied the iPhone’s iTunes icon and pasted it into my Mac’s iTunes.

  13. Shane says:

    I always liked the Front Row icon until I saw the striking similarities it has with IKEA’s effort. The reaction to Qmaster is priceless – What the hell is this?

  14. Griz says:

    How bout the text edit icon sort of hints at its use but also allows us to participate in a somber note to Kate, from John Appleseed.

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