App Icon: How to Create an Appealing iOS App Icon

Before you can publish your app, you are required to provide a high-res app icon. It’s crucial that you put the time and effort into designing a great app icon because it will become the main representation of your app. Users will see it on the App Store, on their mobile devices, and on all of your marketing campaigns. It's an extremely important visual for Apple store optimization.

iOS app icon
Places where your App Icon can be shown to iOS users. Your app icon is part of your app store visuals.
Places where your App Icon can be shown to iOS users
Source: iOS device, App Store, and Instagram

Requirements & Guidelines for App Icons

To ensure the icon is legible in large as well as in small sizes, widely recognizable symbols should be used. Unnecessary visual details should be avoided, including excessive text. 

App Icon Requirements on Apple App Store

Normal iOS App Icon Sizes

Due to varying screen resolutions and sizes of iPhones and iPad, Apple has some strict pixel recommendations for app icons:

  • iPhone:
    • 180px × 180px (60pt × 60pt @3x)
    • 120px × 120px (60pt × 60pt @2x)
  • iPad Pro:
    • 167px × 167px (83.5pt × 83.5pt @2x)
  • iPad, iPad Mini:
    • 152px × 152px (76pt × 76pt @2x)
  • App Store:
    • 1024px × 1024px (1024pt × 1024pt @1x)

Small iOS App Icon Sizes

Apple also requires that you submit a small icon size. These will be used in the settings menu or the spotlight section. The small icon should look exactly like your normal app icon. It needs to follow the specs below.

 iOS small app icon sizes
 iOS small app icon sizes
Source: Apple
Where iOS small app icons are used
Where iOS small app icons are used
Source: Apple

Dive Deeper:
App Screenshots: Designing Compelling Screenshots for the App Store
App Preview Video: Showcasing Your iOS App in App Store
iOS Keyword Field: How to Take Advantage of iOS Keywords

Best Practices for iOS App Icons

Apple suggest that your app icons retain a clean and easy-to-understand design. Make sure you’re not putting excessive text in the icon. Tiny text is hard to read and does not look appealing in the App Store. Instead, opt for a design that incorporates shapes and colors. Determine what sort of color scheme best matches your app brand and use that color palette to design your icon.

Good examples of well-designed iOS app icons. These apps make good use of their app store visuals.
Good examples of well-designed iOS app icons 
Source: App Store 

In addition, you want users to understand what your app is about when they look at the icon. Come up with one that is memorable and that says something about what your app does. You want to make a good first impression. A confusing or unclear app icon will certainly confuse App Store visitors. Whereas a clear, memorable, and understandable one will further convince users to download your app.

Other factors to remember when designing an iOS app icon are:

  • Keep the background solid. Transparency doesn’t work well because you’ll lose control over what your app looks like on each individual user’s phone.
  • No photos or screenshots. App icons are too small for people to actually make out intricate details.
  • Do not round corners. Apple will apply a rounded corners mask for you. So when designing keep your icon’s corners square rather than rounded.
  • Test what kind of icon works the best. Use Apple's Product Page Optimization A/B testing tool to get more insights.

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