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A week after Apple's not-so-successful release of its new iPhone operating system, today we get an in-depth look at the strict guidelines that dictate Google's design team, showing exactly why the Google app icons all have a similar look and Apple's most certainly do not. Google, per a Visual Assets Guidelines document dug up by Fast Company's Kyle Vanhemert, has very specific examples that only allow for outlined shapes as icons, rather than nasty photos, or both combined:

Apple, on the other hand, doesn't seem to have a rule like that. The new iOS 7 features some icons that are just shapes, like for the Photos app. But others go for more of a Google-esque geometric shape look, like the Camera app:

Google's color palette is also, really, really simple with very specific rules on how to use the limited options:

Apple, on the other hand, doesn't have a specific color set, but it also doesn't seem to care about the consistency of color usage. On the Safari and Mail apps, for example, the gradient inverts from light-to-dark on one supremely popular, built-in app, then switches to dark-on-the-outside-light-on-the-inside right nextdoor: 

That Google has these kinds of guidelines is "not especially surprising," explains Vanhemert. "The company's graphic designers, spread across heaps of products on several different platforms, have to have something to reference when they’re nailing down things like app icons," he writes. "But it's nice to actually see the guidelines laid out so clearly, if for no other reason than a bit of proof that Google's continuing to sweat the details."

What's more surprising is that Apple, as a company known for sweating details (they even have a new ad out about how "we spend a lot of time on a few great things"), seemingly doesn't abide by synced-up guidelines for the look of the iPhone; the whole design process seems to have a type of disorganization that Apple just doesn't usually allow. Apparently, marketing and communications teams designed so many aspects of icons that it clashes with the app design team building others for the launch of iOS 7, sources told The Next Web's Mathew Panzarino. "From what we've heard, SVP of Design Jony Ive (also now Apple's head of Human Interaction) brought the print and web marketing design team in to set the look and color palette of the stock app icons," he explains. "They then handed those off to the app design teams who did their own work on the 'interiors', with those palettes as a guide." A little internal organization, it turns out, goes a long way toward helping everyone else organize their own lives with your product.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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