iOS 7 is an entirely different OS, visually. From the basic navigation hierarchy, to the design cues taken to inform the users which application they are currently in, iOS 7 truly is a completely different beast. In most cases, that is a very good thing: in general, most people seem to like the design of individual apps, the notification center, and the other navigation changes made in the OS.
But those icons.
The stock icons have been the subject of much controversy. And now, we know the reason for that controversy:
First of all, many of the new icons were primarily designed by members of Apple’s marketing and communications department, not the app design teams. 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. They then handed those off to the app design teams who did their own work on the ‘interiors’, with those palettes as a guide.
In other words, Apple’s crack team of designers (who were also responsible for the design of iOS 6, so it’s understandable that Ive wanted to keep them away from decisions surrounding such aspects as the color palette) didn’t create the icons we now see. Apple’s marketing and web teams did.
The good news? According to that same article, all of this is subject to change. The icons, specifically, are not final versions, and the entire OS is to be considered a preview, a definite “work in progress,” until its final release later this year.