Is the Yahoo! Weather app icon really that ugly?

Twitter is all a-buzz over the new Yahoo! weather app for iPhone. yahoo-weather-app-for-san-francisco
yahoo weather icon for iphoneOn one hand people are praising Marissa Mayer for a beautifully designed app (see one of the conversations on her Twitter post.) On the other hand, Twitter users (as well as comments on blogs) are lambasting Yahoo! over the design of the icon:
tweets against yahoo icon
See for yourself by searching Twitter for “Yahoo weather icon.”
Some people even gave a reduced rating for the app on iTunes solely because of the icon:
yahoo app-review on itunes

Does Yahoo! deserve this criticism over an icon?

In article after article we were told by Marissa that Yahoo! would be focusing on tools, technology and mobile. And in her time we have seen a better Flickr iPhone app that has the highest ratings since previous versions, a beautiful new weather app (that can easily replace the iOS native one without a mutter of complaint from iPhone users), and a smart acquisition of Summly, to name a few. These easily fit her mission statement of tapping into people’s “daily habits.”

And we haven’t even heard a peep out of Marissa about branding yet (correct me if I missed that message/speech.) Her aim is to put Yahoo! in the hands of users on a daily basis. A useful and well designed collection of apps leveraging the latest tools and technology does just that. Rebranding Yahoo! does not get people to download apps; great, functional apps do.

As you can see from the posts on Twitter, they still downloaded and use the Yahoo weather app, regardless of the icon. Why? Because—once the app passes the loading screen—you are immersed in a beautiful and intuitive weather app that really does blow your mind. And on top of that it (not-so-subtly) teases you to take great pictures and upload them to flickr in the hopes that they choose yours for the background. Who wouldn’t want that? (Admit it, when you first saw the pictures you forgot about the icon, huh? Me too.)

So, if Yahoo! is focused on tools, technology and mobile, and hasn’t made a play for a rebrand, then what were you expecting in an icon? Have you seen their lineup of icons for iPhone apps? Probably not since I bet the weather app was the first Yahoo! app you installed.
latest yahoo app icons
The latest three app icons are looking suspiciously similar, or ‘in family’ as my old boss used to say. Couple that with the very design of the app you are (likely) praising and you get an icon that looks like this:
yahoo-weather-app-icons-side-side
The app icon fits the brand, the family of apps, as well as leverages design elements from the app itself.

It’s easy to find

I will say that it being one of the few purple icons on my phone, it is very easy to find. I think many designers would head to the blue hues first, being that it is a weather icon and all. But, let’s be frank about this: how many more blue icons do we need on our phone? It’s already a sea of blue squares:
sea of blue iphone icons

You already own and live with “ugly” icons

I’m going to go out of a limb here and say that some, if not all, of the following icons are on your iPhone. Then I am going to just leap to another limb and say that I bet not once did anyone utter a peep about the design of these icons let alone post a barrage of tweets as we have seen regarding Yahoo’s weather app icon. Take a look:
iphone-app-icon-comparison
These icons are just as purple / bright / campy / colorful / in-your-face as the Yahoo! Weather one, if not more so. Some fit the app’s design; some don’t.

The real truth of the Yahoo! icon hatred

The hard truth is that by installing this beautiful app Yahoo! is blatantly and publicly on your iPhone. It’s no longer hidden deep in the native iOS weather app. There’s now a beautiful and useful weather app installed on your phone, and it’s made by Yahoo! of all companies. Say it again: Yahoo! Your friends can see it while you try and drunk-text your ex, and you are not happy they might confuse it with Yahoo! Mail. You use GMail. You use HipChat or Jabber, not Yahoo! Messenger. And Flickr? You used to, but then fell off, and then you heard the app was great now and don’t know what to do. At least that flickr icon knew its place, right?!

Oh boy.

Yahoo! is seen by many as a struggling company with a brand that looks like it is aimed at 14 year old girls. Google became the cool kid with it’s simple and clean style, beautiful icons, and hipster browser, which further pushed Yahoo! into the dust bin. But now, with the help of the very person that helped make Google cool, Yahoo! is making a comeback (okay, maybe not.) But, they still caught you off guard with a really awesome app. Seriously, it just tells us the weather, and yet we keep opening it to see what images are on there now (because they seem to change to match the time of day) and watch that damn sun move left to right (shouldn’t it be right to left? Anyway…)

Admit it: Yahoo! has been perceived as Peewee league stuff in the world of apps, and now they show up to hit a homerun into the parking lot and the world has to cut them down somehow. It’s bully tactics, plain and simple.

So, break out your phone and look at all the apps you have on there and tell me that you don’t have some of the most god-awful, overly designed icons installed. Then look at the Yahoo! Weather app icon and tell me it’s worse. I didn’t think so. You’re just pissed Yahoo! is on your iPhone.

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