Today is a good day to step back from my usual privacy and security rants and focus on something that affects us all. Apps. Specifically, the icons used for applications. And, emoji icons. OK, just icons in general. We have too many icons for apps and files and emoji to remember them all which means often we don’t know what we’re clicking.
Take a look at the screens on Mac, iPhone, and iPad. What do you see?
App icons in the Finder. App icons on the iPhone and iPad screens. Even app icons on Watch. With the exception of the latter, most of those apps have names below them. Why? Because that’s how God intended us to identify icons.
Even the red Stop sign at the corner has eight sides and is easily identified by drivers. And it uses the word Stop in the middle. Icons should have names to identify the icon. The Mac’s Finder Toolbar has icons. No names. That’s the default setting. Thankfully, there is an option to add the name to the icon.
Look at the Mac’s Dock. If yours is like mine then it’s packed with icons; some of which are easily identified, and others– especially newer apps– are not so easily identified. The Dock does not have an option to turn on the app icon’s name. For than you have to move the mouse pointer or screen pointer (80-percent of all Macs sold do not come with a mouse) to see the app’s name pop up over the icon.
That’s wrong. Icons need names.
It gets worse. Open Messages on Mac, iPhone, or iPad. Start typing. Click or tap the emoji icon. The pop up window displays a scrollable list of icons; hundreds of icons. And not one of them has a name. Some are easily identifiable. Smile. Frown. But why so many of the same? Most of the animal emoji are identifiable without a name but why do they exist in the first place. Who sends an emoji of a koala bear or a duck.
We see a similar issue with icons within applications.
Arrows I can figure out. The Sharing Pane– the box with an arrow coming out of the top– needs to be explained to anyone who doesn’t know what it is and most people forget it anyway. Many apps on Mac, iPhone, and iPad use icons in their toolbars but most do not have a name, and some not even a name or tooltip popup with moused over.
Apple’s Settings icons in iOS are pretty good; easily identifiable thanks to the name next to the icon.
Apple Watch might be the worst culprit, though. The honeycomb Watch app launcher simply displays a screen full of icons– no names. Some you can figure out. Mail. Calendar. iTunes. Photos. Messages and Cellphone. That’s about it. Maybe Settings. After that the Watch screen is just a mess of unidentifiable icons.
There are just too many application, settings, files, and emoji icons to remember without a name.
Yes, there oughta be a law.