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A new Google Play app and game icon specification (googleblog.com)
14 points by ingve 9 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments

Adaptive icons is a stupid bad idea. Humans distinguish different objects by shape and color. Now when all objects are mandatory made to have same shape, it only made harder to find needed icon. It effectively just made icons smaller and harder to distinguish from one another.

Best Android icons were in Android 5.0, and went downhill from that.

When I picked up a new phone last fall, this change made me irrationally angry. Now everything looks like a little piece of candy and not like an icon. Designs proceed further and further toward abstraction to the point that, without a lot of contextual knowledge, it can be hard to tell what they represent or if they even represent anything.

Maybe I'm just being curmudgeonly, but I think icon design went downhill in about the mid-nineties. Classic Mac OS and Windows 95 haven't really been bested in terms of icon design clarity... and don't get me started about the loss of the Classic Mac OS Finder and its purely spatial metaphor. Not all design work is progress.

Didn't they get rid of square icons very recently? I feel like the Android app store is trying to explicitly make small apps look old by updated the format every couple weeks.

The only apps that look right on your screen are the ones that have a dedicated mobile graphics department...

I was super confused too--to this day I get annoyed when I see apps that never updated their icons to circles, rendered as a square-in-a-circle with >50% whitespace. And now less than a year later, we're going back to squares??

But looking more closely, it seems like this is for Play Store icons, not the APK icons on your phone. Which makes me go... meh, whatever.

That's another thing that wasn't clear. Those old legacy icons that do match these new squares by happenstance, are they also going to be shrunk and hovered in an identical square or will we be able to see the full icon again?

Also why are we trying to make all these icon borders the same in the first place? The silhouette is one of the first things our brain sees and processes; that's why it's such an important part to pay attention to in art. Making it all the same makes it that much more difficult to differentiate the icons from one another, which frustrates me as a user.

From the standpoint of a designer, this will likely simplify asset development pipelines since the new spec appears to be much closer to the iOS guidelines.

As someone who has some apps on both stores but doesn't have a dedicated team working on app store listings, I often find myself wondering why Google and Apple, two of the biggest tech companies in the world who created these platforms, stores, and the associated technologies completely from scratch, can't help me out just a little bit on icons and screenshots.

It's an absolute nightmare to develop on an iPhone X and try to get screenshots onto the store. You're required to have 5.5" screenshots, which means an iPhone 8 Plus. The guidelines specifically say your app has to be designed to work on all screen sizes, but I can't submit screenshots taken on my iPhone X or XS and submit them to the store. I have to resize them, which means cutting off the top and bottom to make it wide enough to fit the resolution of the iPhone 8 Plus. Apple, a genius of a tech company, cannot figure out how to display screenshots from an iPhone X on an iPhone 8, but they can show iPhone 8 screenshots on an iPhone X. My app is location-based, so screenshots have to be taken on-site... but I don't own an iPhone 8 Plus. I own an iPhone XS and an iPhone 8. But I can't use the screenshots from either without editing them to chop off the top and bottom.

Google gets it a bit better in that you can upload any screenshots you want of any size or resolution, but they require a separate icon upload. And while Apple's icons need to be 1024x1024, Google needs them to be exactly 512x512. Again, a genius tech company cannot figure out on their own website how to resize an image before it gets saved.

Not to mention Apple wants promo videos in portrait mode, even though iMovie does not support portrait mode videos. But Google wants your promos hosted on Youtube, which prefers landscape videos. So now every promo has to be shot and edited twice.

Changing from a round icon to a square icon is the least of my worries.

Why don't you use the iPhone Simulator to take the screenshots at different screen sizes?

In my case they've never rejected the screenshots for having done that (and it clearly shows you've used the Simulator: they have "Carrier" as the carrier name).

My app is location based, so either I have to edit my screenshots while I'm on-location or I have to edit my code to spoof my location. Either way it's extra work for me that could easily be handled on Apple's side

You can set the location in the simulator.

Holy shit I've wasted so much time.

So why does Apple make me submit a video of my app working in the real world if they can just spoof the location from their end?

Glad to see them moving to iOS design guidelines roughly. I imagine originally they had to choose something different to avoid copying, but glad that is now less of concern.

All designers tell me that silhouettes are the most important defining trait of a design.

Just what the world needed /s

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