iOS 4.2 Voice Memo icon - one of these things is no longer like the others

iOS 4.2 for iPhone brings with it a new Voice Memo icon and with it the most drastic redesign of a built-in iOS app icon to date.

Yes, Calculator got a facelift recently, but it retained that pseudo-realistic look and feel Apple used for the other "utility" apps, like Compass and Camera. Voice Memo goes from faux microphone to strictly white icon, similar now to Phone or iPod, but without the diagonal pin stripe. If it was in the dock it might fit, but grouped in the default Utility folder, it kind of sticks out.

Sure, icons are icons and only designer geeks spend time arguing over their relative merits, but just in case you're on of those aforementioned aficionados, I'm curious to know your thoughts.

I asked on Twitter on Friday, now I'm asking her. New Voice Memo icon, pro or con?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

iOS 4.2 Voice Memo icon - one of these things is no longer like the others


Looks as good as the new iTunes Dock Icon redesign......(awful.)
I'm a graphic design student, and this is strike 2 against Apple. But they're up so many millions of points that I think they're good for awhile.

They are so small, who cares really. I just want to be able to recognize what the heck I'm looking for. The icons don't need to be fancy or contain great graphics (the apps do of course).
Kick Butt (getting out my glasses to read the icons)

Sure, one could argue that an icon's looks aren't important. But, if it's not important, then why change it at all, and why for the worse? If they're not important, leave them be... if they are important, improve them.
The consistency between iPhone icons and Mac icons is also a mess.

It looks almost exactly like the QuickVoice app icon! So much so in fact that I can't believe it's a coincidence. It also looks much plainer and less impressive than the previous icon (I've never much liked the QuickVoice icon, why copy them?)

I think they probably made this change to make it more visible than the old one. As a designer, I don't think its necessarily a bad design, but it definitely doesn't fit with the others, and thats the problem I have with it.

I asked on Twitter on Friday, now I’m asking her.

Asking her what? No answer is usually the same as an answer of NO.
Give it up Rene! ;-)

looks like an icon that belongs in safemode.
the subject matter of icon has been brought up on more than one occasion. specifically relating to a quality looking icon having a direct correlation to sales performance in the app store. one might argue the fact it's a built in iOS app. but I'm probably less likely to use it. gives me the impression they don't have faith in their app. the previous icon was much better. whoever felt the need to step back 6yrs in iOS progress should be fired.

Eh. I think it goes well with the Stocks and Weather icons. Seriously Apple, you need to let us delete the default apps already. I don't use stocks or built in weather or the compass or built in notes or voice memos or the built in calculator. Heck, since it's in the phone, I don't even use the so it'd be nice if I could at least hide that one.

It looks ugly. I liked the old one...
This is one more reason to jailbreak and use custom icons, or hide unused ones.

Old Icon = Classy retro awesome.
New Icon = Reminds me of fighting Windows sound control panel B.S. with cheap audio cards. Hate it.

Definitely a downgrade from the last one, and yes, blue has become well overused by iOS app icons....I do at least like the color though....

The old one was class act. The new one looks like a cartoon. To bad we cannot change app icons. That would be a nice feature. You have wallpaper, why not icon skins?

Glad to see Apple has their priorities straight, putting their resources on the most important tasks.

Don't care. You shouldn't need to see it.
When are they going to allow voice memos via the voice control interface!?

How about instead of changing the stupid icon, apple improves the appt ao that the voice files created are not ao huge so that sending 5 minute memo doesn't bankrupt your data plan. Crappy compression.

Well personally I think it looks too plain. I liked the old icon better. But, it looks like that they are going simple with it's icons. Apple, just don't "downgrade" any other app icons. Thanks in advance. :)

That's horrible... the original was really classic looking, this one is just plain ugly. What happened Apple, did you lose your best designers?

To Rene: Maybe it wold be interesting to show THE BEGINNING - how the homescreen of the Iphone 2G - SW 1.0 looked like...would make a great article: "The iphone - the early years" :)

Nice that I am able to backup the current icon and just copy it over the new one then... the new one looks really awful. Thats not "design"... it´s just an icon.

-Love the new iTunes Icon
-Love the new Calculator Icon (made sense with Folders)
-Don´t like the new MobileMe Gallery Icon
-Very much dislike the new Voicememo-Icon

I don't understand Apple's icon criteria: why are some photo-realistic-looking and come area flat solid colors? I just don't understand their logic...

Wow, I was trying to justify jailbreaking and this does that quite nicely. This icon is fugly! EPIC FAIL.

Looking in the app store, it looks like the quick office icon in color shading, and so on. Did apple steal an icon. Go back to the old one gents or the police will be talking to you about something different than a stolen iPhone. Are there copyrights on icons?

I liked the old one better. Not that I care too much. I just want the ability to "poof" icons that I don't use like Apples weather and stocks.

i hope this is not real..... i use it almost everyday... i love the one we have now.... no need to be change ugh... they could really chande the message n map anytime....

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I liked it...i mean, i don't use this app,
but i like this style of icon.
I think they should unify all icons with the
same style, such as phone,itunes,app store, etc.

MAJOR FAIL! It sticks out like a sore thumb.
It shows a lack of care and a failure to live up to the usual slick design we come to know and expect.
Whats sad is it actually looks like a jailbreak icon, where an
amateur has customized the ui and made a poor job of it.
Hopefully it will get rectified asap.
Im not on twitter, part if i was id be twittering;)

Hate it. Why go from a beautifully designed icon to one that looks like it belongs in a 1970's toy box? Weird choice there, oh fruited ones.

Terrible new icon. I loved the beautiful, realistic-looking original one. New icon totally sticks out in the Utilities folder. I almost couldn't find the app after the update because of the drastic icon change.

The new Voice Memo is TERRIBLE!!!!!!! When I saw it I thought it was one of the third party apps that I had previously downloaded and then deleted so I was trying to delete it again when I realized they change the original (Terrific) icon. If anyone knows how to change it back I'm all ears.

As a UX designer it's a lot more effective and useful as an icon. However aesthetically it's butt ugly in comparison.

Copyright covers any original works. However copyright is a civil matter, not a criminal one.
Although icons, like any media, are covered by copyright; given their nature it'd be very difficult to enforce as they are basic pictorial representations of things, so naturally often look the same.

I love the new icon; While waiting for the untethered 4.2 jailbreak for my iTouch 4, I had to grab a copy from Cydia. (running 4.1 atm

For those of you complaining about the new icon, you seriously need to get out more. It's a f**king icon.

I don't like it. The other icon was richer and had more depth. It went well with the YouTube icon. Good design gone average.

My issue is not icon, the app itself has changed... I am not able to play any voice memo while checking mail etc!!!
It used to work in parallel before, any idea how to fix this?? I love listening to my voice memos (my class recordings) while doing other stuff with the phone.. I hate this change though apple claims they have not changed the voice memo!

Step 1: jailbreak
Step 2: open cydia -> search
Step 3: type 'voice memo' -> install package etc.
Step 4: respring and enjoy!

Completely agree, as well as being out of place stylistically it also messes up the delicate balance of colours when the icons are arranged as they were in 3.0, we're now seriously lacking in red (only provided by the thin strip at the top of calendar) and overpowered by clashing shades of blue, glad it's not just me that's a bit pissed off..