The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: iOS App Icons

This is a look at the apps that I have currently installed on my iOS devices — it is in no way a look at every app in the App Store. This also means that I use and like every app on this list, just because the icon is bad doesn’t mean I don’t like the app.

I am including ‘good’ icons to give you a bit of insight into what I like. I classify bad icons as icons that I don’t particularly like, but that are tolerable. The ugly icons are ones that make me feel nauseated.

The Good


First up is OmniOutliner. What I really like about this icon is the subtle hat tip to the outline culture in the background and the huge nod to what the app really does: captures ideas. That’s why I like this icon so much.


Articles is another icon that I really like because it conveys what the apps does for me: gives me a huge drawer of information. I don’t typically like this type of design, but I think it really works well for this Wikipedia app.


Gowalla on the iPhone (not iPad) has always been a favorite of mine. I love the strong use of orange and the simple nature of it. The icon also fits so well with the Gowalla brand by simply putting “Go” on the icon. Really is one of my all time favorites.


Everyday is another app that really is a simplistic description of the app. The faded heads and similar coloring as the Camera app really speak to what the app does.

The Bad


First up is Apple’s Mail client. How is a cloudy blue sky with an envelope supposed to convey that this is for email? This app icon seems better suited to an app that helps you send envelopes via carrier pigeon than it does for an email app. Still, I have seen worse.


Reeder, for the iPad because I like the iPhone icon, is painful to me. Don’t get me wrong it is one of my favorite apps, but why in the world is the bottom right corner curled? Why? Remove that and you have yourself a lovely icon, but with that page curl I find myself scratching my head.


Kindle… Is this is a shot at the fact that I can only read outside with my iPad while in the shade? If not why would you depict someone clearly reading a paper book, sitting very awkwardly under a tree?


Simplenote, oh you knew your turn was coming. Yes, this is the best iteration of your icon to date, but the more I look at it the more I wonder what the hell it is all about. It’s very neat looking and very modern feeling, but — actually — it gets quite boring.

The Ugly


TextExpander you inspired this post because I find your icon so awful. It hurts me to look at you so very much that I can’t even stand to see it in the small view/preview that folders show. Why is there a balloon, in what world does expanding text through shortcuts lend a balloon as the representation? While I have you, why in the world do you have such an ugly, busy, orange background?


Oh 1Password you know I can’t live without you, but seriously your icon really bugs me. You are a vault of my secrets and should convey such a thing, so can you explain why you show a lock and the key to that lock. My word, what am I to leave my passwords stuck to my monitor now?


Twitter, specifically Twitter for the iPad: you suck.


Photos: you cheery sunflower bastard stop looking at me. I hate you and I hate how uninspiring you are and the fact that I must look at you daily. Your not even a real photo and yet I find everything about this fairy-tale-sunflower-photo to signify everything that is wrong with photography today.

Originally posted for members on: June 15, 2011
Follow along on RSS, App.net, or Twitter.
~I would appreciate it if you considered becoming a member.~