Icons vs Keys

Sunday Times app chart

This visual appeared in The Sunday Times iPad edition for 26 February 2012. It demonstrates how certain Android apps have access to certain phone functions. What I found frustrating about this visual is that the symbols used are abstract and arbitrary, having no relation to the function they represent.

In order to see what functions each app accessed, I had to continually refer back to the key at the top. This became extremely annoying once I scrolled down, as the key was then pushed off the screen.

This experience could have been greatly improved with the use of icons instead of an abstract key, as illustrated below.

(the icons are from the Modern Pictograms family. Some icons might have been improved slightly but I don’t make Sunday Times money)

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