by Jim Lynch

Apple’s new Music and iTunes icons stink

Jul 01, 2015
iOSMacOSOperating Systems

The new Music and iTunes icons in OS X and iOS underwhelm

Apple Music for iOS 8.4 has been released, and along with it comes iTunes 12.2 for OS X. While much of the news coverage has focused on the nuts and bolts of the Apple Music service, I found myself somewhat shocked at the new icon for Apple Music in iOS, as well as the new iTunes icon in OS X.

apple music icon for ios

The new Apple Music icon for iOS is simultaneously garish and boring with its white background and neon-ish colors.

For some reason Apple opted to get rid of the attractive orange/red color of the previous icon and replace it with a neon mishmash of red, blue and white. And in doing so Apple has managed to realize a singular achievement: it has created an icon that is simultaneously garish and bland in OS X and iOS.

Frankly, I’m at a bit of a loss as to why Apple felt it necessary to do this. The previous icon was solid and distinct. It was very easy to see it on the OS X Dock as well as on the iOS home screen. But the new icon blends in a bit too much, and the white background seems to make it much easier to miss when you are looking for it.

Now I know you are probably thinking that I’m nitpicking about the new icon, and that might be true to a certain extent. But I’m not the only one who has noticed and disliked the new Music and iTunes icons release by Apple yesterday.

apple music old icon

The old icon for iTunes in OS X. It’s quite distinct and easy to see even surrounded by many other icons on OS X’s Dock.

apple new music and itunes icon

Apple’s new icon for iTunes 12.2 in OS X. The white background makes it look rather bland and easy to miss on the OS X Dock.

revised apple music itunes icon

A replacement icon for iTunes 12.2 that was created by redditor Caliform. It almost blends the old design with the new in a more pleasing way than Apple’s version.

A redditor creates his own replacement iTunes 12.2 icon

A redditor actually went so far as to create a replacement icon for iTunes 12.2 in OS X that is based on Apple’s version but that removes the white background. Take a look at the three iTunes icons on the left side of the page. One is the old reddish icon, the second is Apple’s new icon, and the third is the one created by a redditor named Caliform.

Here’s a sample of comments from the Reddit thread about Caliform’s replacement icon in iTunes 12.2:

ClassyJacket: “Wow you’re right, they changed it at the last minute. I guess they were starting to get too consistent a style in their icons, and just had to screw it up.”

Caliform: “Yep, I noticed it in the Keynote, too. It was a bit garish to my taste, though, so I made the colors a bit less acid-trippy.”

Tperelli: “I’m more bothered with the iOS icon.”

MattehPee: “Agreed. Too much white.”

Moomius: “I don’t mind the White background. It’s a welcome refresh from the orange. I really did love the orange, but I got tired of it.”

Rappr: “I think both the OSX and iOS icons are nice changes of pace from their more boring predecessors.”

JadedDarkness: “Soooo much better. I really do not understand the reversal of the colored and white parts of the new music/iTunes icons.”

M113t: “What makes no sense is that the icons across two different platforms are different. Could you imagine if Spotify had a different icon for iOS, Mac and Windows? Where is the logic!”

Figuren9ne: “They’re technically two different apps. One is Apple Music, the other is iTunes. iTunes does a lot more than Apple Music, such as podcasts and audiobooks.”

ClassyJacket: “Yeah that looks way better. Filling it in with white looked weird.”

More at Reddit

As you can tell from the comments, opinions vary widely on the new OS X icon for iTunes. Some redditors liked it while others preferred the replacement icon offered by Caliform.

If I had to choose between the two, I’d pick Caliform’s icon over Apple’s. But, frankly, I still prefer the old reddish icon to either of the versions of the newer one. It’s easier on the eyes and much easier to find amidst a bunch of other icons.

Apple has the final say about icons in iOS, but not in OS X

One of the unpleasant truths about living in Apple’s iOS walled garden is that the company mostly gets the final decision about the design of icons (unless you jailbreak but that seems like more of a headache than its worth just to replace an icon). So if you’re on iOS you’ll have to live with the new iOS Music icon.

But in OS X you do have the option of replacing Apple’s iTunes icon, so there’s at least that small consolation. Then again, in the end, they are just icons and it’s fairly easy to ignore them, especially if you skip Apple’s apps and use third party music apps instead.

I’m not going to get too worked up about the new icons, but I can’t help but feel that Apple goofed by releasing them looking like this. There’s just something about all that white that rubs me the wrong way. It’s as if Apple couldn’t think of anything else to do so the company said “screw it, make the background white!”

I sure hope we’re not going to see all of Apple’s default app icons eventually be designed in a similar way. Can you imagine what FaceTime, Messages and other app icons will look like with nasty white backgrounds? Ugh! If that happens then…gasp!…I might actually have to consider jailbreaking my iOS devices.

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