Today Instagram, the photo-sharing app owned by Facebook, is introducing a new UI, an unexpected new icon, and a new look for its family apps – Layout, Boomerang, and Hyperlapse – all designed in-house.The reason: they finally realized, as the head of design at Instagram says, that the previous rendered camera “icon” wasn’t functional enough for the current needs of the company and that they needed to get a flexible and scalable glyph for years to come.
I totally agree that it needed a change, the icon had been stuck in the skeuomorphism era and wasn’t functional for many applications, so there is no surprise that because of this lack of functionality there are a lot of different flat icon versions of IG’s logo on the internet (http://bit.ly/1OiwjX8), definitely a problem for the brand identity; and this new design they finally solved that issue or at least is what I think.
Another thing that I like about this new design, because I don’t really hate it, is that it is still recognizable, it is not like we are going to confuse it with another app, they did a good job selecting the key elements of its brand. What I don’t like is that it looks like those generic ‘Social Media Icon Sets” that students make and everyone can download them from those free vector sites, it has no special features, and I don’t know why they encapsulated the icon in a box if it is already a box, set it free!
As for the new family icons, well… the ‘Layout’ one is great, it shares the same characteristics from the new logo, but the other two are just a circle and an infinity symbol that could be from anywhere else, they just look like a family because of the color treatment, but if you paint them black they lost their connection – An icon set always has to look cohesive in black and white -, but at least now they look official and part of Instagram.
And finally the gradient, I’m sure you were waiting for this, and maybe you are going to be surprised. The problem is not the gradient or how it looks because somehow it looks fine, the problem is that they are returning to the problem they already had, they designed the new glyph it based on a trend that is now in its heyday – I’m talking about the gradients – and that in a few years it is going to look outdated and the design team will have to change it again, exactly as it happened with the skeuomorphism design they had. And I know brands have to evolve according to the market, but why not design something that will not go out of style or at least last longer?
In conclusion, I think they solved the functionality issues, and they were able to make a better abstraction of the camera without losing its recognizable character, but it turned out kind of generic and if in a few years they get rid of the gradient please remember me.