Design contributor for LineageOS, a popular Android derivative
Improve the platform's set of core app icons for the standards of today
Establishing a calm and confident style built on flexibility
Greater support across hardware while sitting at home next to downloaded apps
Google’s release of Android 12 featured the platform’s largest iteration in UI since Material Design itself: Material You. As part of the work to adopt these changes in LineageOS 19, the Lineage team evaluated how our own design work meshed with this new paradigm. One major element we critiqued was the core app icon collection, in service since 2018. Considering its condition next to these updates, we decided a new set would better reflect the state of LineageOS and Android today.
The growth of the BABBQ was backed by small sponsorships from a network of engaged hardware vendors, service providers, and other mobile tech groups. This all changed in 2015 when Android’s creator gave us a call.
Our decision was based on three key factors:
The set’s scene-like art direction assumed then-new features evolving the way app icons would be designed. Instead icons only adopted the most basic capabilities, leaving the set looking out of place.
Trends in the use of Material Design, as well as UI updates in LineageOS’ own apps, rendered the set visually and functionally out of date.
LineageOS’ growing list of supported devices further diversified screen sizes and resolutions. The existing set would have to grow in file size to support them, risking compatibility with older hardware.
The 2022 collection returns to a familiar glyph/mark format. Each icon is built from a tailored set of base shapes which creates the set’s improved negative space and consistent visual footprint. Some icons refine existing visual metaphors to maintain users’ learned behavior, while others start fresh with clearer concepts.
The set’s simple use of color grants the icons a pleasant utilitarian nature. The palette is optimized for a variety of backgrounds and its hues are contrast-consistent to project icons at a uniform intensity. Adaptive characteristics are still present in the collection, designed as clever hints and easter eggs revealed through interactivity.
Icons are also paired with a monochromatic alternate that supports the new Themed Icon system in Android - impossible under the 2018 set’s design. This enables people to customize their home screen with icons dynamically colored by their wallpapers. Supplemental icons for notifications were also created to maintain consistency across the apps’ common entry points.
The new collection ditches raster PNGs for vector XML, freeing it to shine across any screen while reducing its file footprint from the set before. The markup base also lets tinkerers tune the icons in their own LineageOS builds without the need for source files - a win for the project’s open-source nature.
Updates to these icons underline LineageOS’ reputation as the leading open alternative to stock Android. Core apps now feel at home next to their third-party counterparts. Users enjoy new customization options on-device and in development. And as an aspect of Lineage’s visual identity, the collection’s calm and confident nature continues the project’s opinion that there should be quality options beyond the commercial.