Steve Jobs reportedly thinks the new icon for iTunes 10 “doesn’t suck”.
I respectfully disagree.

I don’t know who’s making the design decisions at Apple these days, but they missed the boat completely on the new icon for iTunes 10. Unless of course they were going for that “retro” style to visually depict “modernization” in technology, which makes no sense at all. And what were they thinking when they replaced every ounce of color with gray in the sidebar?

My rhetorical Tweet on the matter fell on deaf ears. “iTunes 10 icons have all turned gray. A sign of the collective emotional climate? or did their icon budget run out?” The updated UI fails to consider that visual people take their cues from color as well as form and contrast. Judge for yourself.

       iTunes 8                                               iTunes 9                                              iTunes 10

iTunes Windows

Looking at the iTunes 10 menu is like staring at a mud puddle waiting for a rainbow to come shooting out. Boring and futile.

There is no visual hierarchy whatsoever. Without color there is no visual differentiation to assist the eye in breaking up the information and all of the categories blend together. The headings may as well not even be there anymore. Such a sad, gray wasteland seems antithetical to the image and brand standard Apple has represented since the inception of the Mac.

Then there’s the matter of this new application icon.
Hey, Apple. The
80’s called and they want their graphic back.

              iTunes 9                                   iTunes 10

iTunes9_iconiTunes 10 icon

Much like the lackluster new menu icons, the app icon is equally as boring. It really does look like a comp. A first stage rendering that any sensible art director would have sent back to the drawing board for another round. “Yawn. What, did you come in with a hangover this morning, remember you had a deadline, pull that off of the Illustrator symbol menu, add a reflection and call it good? I don’t think so, dude. Hit up the coffee shop on your way back to your machine and design something I can use.”

I’m not the only one who has taken issue with the new icon. Some people have taken matters into their own hands and designed something they deemed more aesthetically pleasing and user friendly. Seriously. Google the term iTunes 10 icons and go spelunking. Among many others you’ll find:

Still Think The iTunes 10 Icon Sucks? Our Ten Reader Alternatives
Steve Jobs: iTunes 10 Icon Does Not ‘Suck’
Hate the New Colorless iTunes 10 icons? Hack the old ones back in.
Dang. The iTunes 10 icon is UGLY – Mac Forums

A Twitter rivalry has even broken out between itunes10icon and itunes9icon. It’s hilarious.

I’m aware that comparatively this may seem like a trivial pursuit, but it’s my assessment that Design Justice has definitely not been served and Apple should take it back to the drawing board on the next version of iTunes. They can do better. Until then, I’ll be hacking the more cheerful, functional and colorful icons back into my iTunes.  ✻