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Mobile apps are increasingly becoming a key part of our lives – they are the shortcuts for hundreds of routine tasks we do every day. Having this in mind, it makes a lot of sense that app icon design also plays a huge role in determining the quality of user experience, since we spend a great deal of our time looking at these tiny representations of software tools on our screens. In addition to being an easy reminder about the app’s purpose, a well-designed icon has the power to inspire and motivate us, a power to make our day a little better and our daily schedules a little more bearable.
Of course, different users have different aesthetic preferences, so it is hard to come up with an exact definition what makes for a great icon design. However, it is obvious that some app icons elicit much stronger reactions than the others, staying relevant much longer and causing a lot of noise of popular blogs and forums. We are bringing you some of the most widely recognized app icons for iOS, along with brief analyses about what makes each of them special:
This icon is very visually representative and distinctive, which is suitable for an app intended to remind you not to forget important stuff when you are traveling. One glance on this icon will motivate you to start packing as soon as possible and to double check your suitcase before closing it.
2. Bamba Toys
Here is one cheerful and colorful icon that will make every child eager to explore all the fun options in this great app that allows them to create their own toys. Just like the facial expression of the kid on the icon suggests, Bamba Toys will put a huge smile on junior’s little face.
3. Guitar Lessons
What else could you want on a guitar learning app icon other than a good looking illustration of the guitar case and strings? Maybe just a discreet blue light in the right corner, detail that Guitar Lessons app uses to perfection to showcase its blend of tradition and technology.
It is always a good sign when the icon is descriptive, but Conojo sets a new standard in this respect. This colorful iOS icon makes sure that every user will understand the creative freedom afforded by one of the most widely acclaimed whiteboard apps on the market.
Using CookWizMe app to learn the fine culinary arts is a piece of cake and the iOS app icon makes sure this is clear from the very first moment. Elegant colors are perfectly supplementing the simple graphic form, leaving little doubt about the app’s functionality.
6. Project Noah
An extraordinary icon for an extraordinary app. Project Noah is a great tool that allows nature enthusiasts to document the wildlife they encounter, so it is no wonder that its stitch-work inspired icon utilizes a different style and appeals to out-of-the-box thinkers.
Iris is an app that allows you to connect with Instagram in a more fluid way and its icon wastes no time communicating this. One tap on the camera lens takes the user on a tour through amazing visual worlds where everything can be done instantly and connecting with others is quick and simple.
8. Contact Snapper
This fantastic business card scanning app changes the way people maintain their business contacts and its icon certainly looks sharp and innovative enough to accompany it. It color scheme is totally unassuming, yet manages to create a very powerful perception of convenience and reliability.
Great artwork that makes an immediate impact and clearly designates what Swacket app does – help the users dress fashionably for any weather. In this case it doesn’t even take a lot of elements to do so – one simple, but cleverly dressed sketch character superimposed over stylized rain torrents does the trick quite convincingly.
10. Interior Design for iPad
An immensely ambitious visual idea that actually works – that’s the best way to describe how the icon for Interior design for iPad uses 3D space to tell a story. Depth of field technique draws you in and demands your full attention.
Some apps serve very basic purposes and their apps should be similarly straight forward. This is exactly the case with the smart music player TunesMate – everyone would understand what this icon means, while its cool and urban feel makes it a great choice for your home screen.
Circular movement dominating this icon has a strong association with the primary purpose of the Cycloramic app, namely to enable shooting panoramic photos in 360 degrees view with your smartphone. The icon also relies on the subtle multi-colored background to add to its dynamic look and feel.
If you like vintage 70’s design and old-school aesthetics, MaxiCalc will definitely make a strong impact on you. Created in retro style, this lively icon evokes images of times past while clearly indicating that it represents an excellent calculator app that can be trusted for serious business usage.
14. Heads Vs. Tails
It is rare for a smartphone app icon to reach high level of photorealistic graphics, the feat that Heads Vs. Tails for iOS achieves with ease. This icon may be an interface for a very simple coin-tossing app, but its visual properties are truly colossal and breath-taking.
Smart use of basic geometrical shapes can work well in app icon design, particularly when we are talking about an app that serves a creative purpose like SyncSpace. The circle formed by a pencil and a brush symbolizes shared visual space characteristic for this app, while at the same time indicating simplicity of use.
16. Every Time Zone
Here is another elegant example of an icon that leaves no space for second guessing, as it hints to the main purpose of the app from the first moment. Every Time Zone makes sure there is no confusion when scheduling your plans with global partners and the icon makes this obvious.
Pure minimalistic form of this icon goes hand in hand with its convenience as the central hub for all social stats from Facebook, Twitter and other networks. StatNut icon will blend seamlessly with any background you put it on, but will remain distinctive enough to be visible in a crowd.
18. Quit Smoking Now
The designer of this icon opted for the safe route and placed universally recognizable image over a gravely serious black background to deliver the life-saving message. Every smoker will recognize Quit Smoking Now app on his home screen within seconds based on powerful imagery and effective use of basic colors.
19. Pro Party Planner
Fun and lifestyle apps work best with lively icons and Pro Party Planner provides a great template how to execute this strategy. Use of black silhouettes on a colorful disco-inspired background simply screams that something exciting is about to happen any moment!
While this icon might confuse some into thinking Slicy is a cooking app, designers who use this tool to create web images out of PSD layers know very well what the image stands for. They can do their jobs more effectively while the time they save is as sweet as cherry on the top.
Works presented here are selected as representative examples of modern icon app design, but this is by no means a definitive list. New apps are launched daily and some of the old favorites undergo redesigns from time to time, so keep an open eye for new gems as they appear.
If you are looking to get professional App icons designed, check out AppVersal’s icon design service.