If you go to the Google Play Store and type “icon packs” into the search field, your query will yield page after page of results. Most of the icons appear beautiful, yet identical. How will you ever find something really eye-catching in this gigantic ocean of graphics? Check out this post for the list of my six favorite icon packs that really show their creators’ artistic chops.
So what are icon packs? Icon packs are just what they sound like: a package of developer-crafted icons that will redress your stock icons that come with your smart device. They will work on both your phone and your tablet.
But you must, and I say again, must be using a launcher that supports custom icon packs. Most device stock launchers, which is the launcher that came with your gadget, do not support custom icon packs. These launchers that do support icon packs include Nova, Buzz, Aviate, Atom and a handful of others.
In creating this list, I laid out certain criteria that had to be met in order to make the cut:
They need to be mostly unique. No long-shadows for the millionth reiteration, please.
Gorgeous, of course!
They must make use of icon masking. Icon masking is the tool used inside of the icon pack app that handles icons that have not yet received the special touch of the developer. If you have an obscure app, chances are the developer has not customized it yet. Icon masking will do the best it can to make it fit in among the other customized icons.
A fairly large database of icons. It’d be a waste of space if it only modified the phone and SMS app.
A developer that is active. There are hundreds of icon pack apps on the Play Store that are years behind because they have been abandoned by the developer for whatever reason. The ones on this Top-6 list have developers that have updated their apps recently.
Also note, dear reader, that I am giving you links to the paid version of the icon packs. I fully believe in putting support behind app developers, so a $1 bill in their pocket is not a lot to give up. I am also giving you a link to their Play Store portfolio, so if they do offer a free, lite version of their packs, you may find it in there.
Less talk, more icons, I hear you. Let’s get busy.
Mador is my coveted icon pack. All icons are placed into a black square with rounded corners, this includes the icons being masked. For the icons that have been retooled, Vertumus has diligently created thousands of stylish designs that go very well with its black squared background.
I love these icons because I prefer to have a darker theme throughout my devices. They blend perfectly and have that beautiful Flat aesthetic.
The man behind Vertumus is Viktor Vucinic. You can follow him on Google+ here and check out the rest of his artistic offerings on the Play Store here.
The brilliance that makes this my number two choice is its icon masking. You can barely even tell the difference between the icons that the app creator has customized himself and those that the icon masker has touched up.
These icons offer a circular design, surrounded by another circle set at approximately 70% opacity, allowing them to really blend in on whatever color background you have them set on. For those of you unfamiliar with photo editing terminology, it basically means the outer circle is partly transparent.
The developer is Saurabh Gupta and you can see the rest of his Play Store creations here.
Difft is short for different. Immediately you can see why I picked these: they are very unique! A definite member of the icon world avant garde, in my opinion. These look perfect when set to pop-art backgrounds, especially those in a white tone.
Their developer is a member of DeviantArt that goes by the name of KANDRAVY. He is also the creator of the MinimalIco icon pack, a crowd favorite over on MyColorScreen. You can see the rest of his Play Store work here.
It’s a material world these days… (Sorry, I had to say it.) With Google’s new design initiative of material, these icons fit the mold nicely.
They are flat. Their colors are bold. And they are very circular. Unfortunately, this means that icon masking has a hard time rendering uncustomized icons as well, so there is some trade-off. But thanks to a large database and a determined developer, the amount of icons not covered is small and growing smaller update by update.
This entry highlights why I love the Flat design. I believe that our glassed gadgets set the stage for the aesthetics. A glass panel is flat and smooth and therein lies its beauty. So icons or designs that imply three dimensionality are flying against its own environment.
Nate Wren, the creator of Material Things, has definitely taken this approach with his vision behind his icon pack. You can follow him on Google+ here and check out the rest of his Play Store portfolio here.
Rotox breaks some of my rules. It has a little bit of three dimensionality and some of that unoriginal long-shadow design plaguing the Play Store at the moment. But the rest of the design is so amazing that I can’t help but put them on this list.
I love the outer circle boundary around the inner circle. And the bold colors just add a great deal of class. When I’m feeling my Trekkie side bubble up, I love throwing on a wallpaper of the United Federation of Planets and setting these icons as default. Classy and futuristic describe these icons best.
Rotox icon pack is made by Samer Zayer. You can follow him on Google+ here and see the other icons he’s uploaded on the Play Store here.
Orbis is delicious, but not entirely flat. Orbis makes the list because I really love the unique idea of adding in a color gradient to the icon. Color gradients are, basically, the appearance of moving from one color into another. The other color can be an entirely different color, but usually looks best when it’s just a different shade of the original hue.
These icons, in my opinion, are a splendid work in progress. I’d love to see them flattened and the colors a little more eye-catching. Not that I don’t love their current look, I do, but perhaps it’s the subtle texture applied over them. That wood-grain texture sometimes catches my eyes wrong on-screen and makes me think they’re pixelated.
But what do I know, I’m a blogger, and Ryan Kelly is someone who’s actually created many successful icon packs and put them up on the Play Store. And again, Orbis is incredible enough to make it onto my list.
You can visit Ryan Kelly on Google+ here. To check out the rest of his work, like the popular Umbra and Min icon packs, visit his Play Store shop here.
And that wraps up my all-time favorite icon packs from the Play Store. I hope that you, the reader, come away from this list with a better understanding of what makes Android such a powerful operating system. You own it. Make it yours. Android lets you express yourself in so many ways. Be mournful for all the poor souls out there with “smart” devices that do not have this capability.
If you like the icon packs I mentioned or if I left some out that you feel deserve a shout-out, leave a comment below! Or if you think I’m wrong in some manner, feel free to leave a comment below telling me such.
Also, as I mentioned in my video, here are the links for Light Grid Pro and Aviate.