Those ugly boxed icons are no more on BlackBerry OS 10.3

By Adam Zeis on 5 May 2014 01:55 pm EDT

Ask and ye shall receive. Our good friend Michael Clewley is back with some more OS goodies on his BBM Channel today, now with a look at what will be the OS 10.3 homescreen. Word on the street is that we'll be seeing plenty more in the way of OS 10.3 news from Michael's channel, so this is just the first of many peeks at the latest BlackBerry OS.

One gripe that BlackBerry 10 users had with the homescreen icons — that ugly boxed outline — will soon be no more. The new OS 10.3 homescreen icons are sporting a bit of a redesign and most notably, no more box.

A very welcome change that most users should be extremely happy with — a much cleaner look with more streamlined icons. Michael promises mroe to come on 10.3, so be sure to follow his BBM Channel at C00014277 for the latest updates.

Adam Zeis Adam Zeis "Mobile Nations Content Strategist" 3740 (articles) 2892 (forum posts)

Reader comments

Those ugly boxed icons are no more on BlackBerry OS 10.3



One side, anything is better than the old icons. Other side, some people are not sure about the flat design. I love it.

But thank you! I hated the boxes.

But it's still not good enough. I suggest just a white Icon and nothing more and always white. Also force all icons to be white or don't allow them on.

Hmm, I'm not sure how to feel yet. Maybe it takes some getting used to... what I wonder is what folders will look like

flat matt colours look great, on the FISHER-PRICE I-jig virtual jigsaw puzzle game for ages 3+.
On my Blackberry??? I like glassy, hi-res icons with depth and a full pallet of colours, not just 16 colours.

1993 called. They want their Apple Classic icons back.


Why icons that look 2D when you can have 3D-ish icons? The icons we have now make the screen look much better. Like it's capable of beautiful in depth pictures, not just cartoons.

Posted via CB10

White power!!!

Swiped via CB10 with my T-Mobile USA (Only T-Mo rep still pushing)  ‎BlackBerry Q10...oh wait a sec....its my new Z30, son! The holy grail of phones!

On my BLACKberry! Lol!

Swiped via CB10 with my T-Mobile USA (Only T-Mo rep still pushing)  ‎BlackBerry Q10...oh wait a sec....its my new Z30, son! The holy grail of phones!

Yah, the word "force" doesn't belong anywhere in our ideal OS...

Posted without the aid of AutoCorrect with my physical keyboard via CB10

Take a look at the bottom of the home screen. The search, camera etc. All white. Take a look at the bottom of your hub. White icons.

Posted via CB10

Many are still waiting for functional Contacts & Calendar sync with Outlook. As in taking care of business for non-enterprise companies that cannot use the cloud. Pretty icons are fine, functionality is the only thing that can save BlackBerry

Posted via CB from "Z" best

Design is a different team than software, doing one doesn't sacrifice the other.

Posted via TARDIS Control Console

Maybe the need to fire the form team do they can focus on function. Remember the adage - form FOLLOWS function!

Posted via CB10

You know that design and function go hand in hand. And the logic that one cannot be worked on while the other isn't is false. You have seen many different things fixed with each launch.

Posted via CB10

We are three major updates into the new OS. Contacts and calendars need to be fixed before we worry any more about window dressing.

Posted via CB10

Yes! And could someone, for the sake of my and many other's sanity please either fix BlackBerry Link so it works, even a little, or else deep six it and come up with a better solution!

From my Neutrino Powered Z10

What do you want them to do? Lay the design team off until the Contacts app is updated?

It's not like the designers can help code a new Contacts app, so they might as well do what they're being paid to do in the mean time.

Posted via CB10

The fact that a design team is working on a visual overhaul means that it's part of the project planning, thus it costs resources to put this all together. Sure, the designers may hardly interfere with the coders in practice, but it's still money being spent that could have been more appropriately used in other things.

Also, BlackBerry 10 was released last year, and they already need a design change? Seems like the designers overslept the flat trend that has been going for a while now, not just since iOS 7.

"The fact that a design team is working on a visual overhaul means that it's part of the project planning, thus it costs resources to put this all together."

So? Designers design. Of course they will be involved in projects and of course they are not a free resource. What's your point?

And that brings us back to the beginning :

what should the design team be doing in the meantime? It sounds like you think they should be laid off until the use of their skills is no longer "questionable".

Or should BlackBerry not have any full time designers and simply hire freelancers?

Posted via CB10

You clearly don't understand how to fully create a cohesive and beautiful user experience. The technical side of things could be industry leading but if the design side falls short, it upsets the user experience and will kill the product. How do you think Apple took such a strong hold on the market?

Don't know why some people downplay the importance of design. Look around you, everything commercially produced had a designer's hands on it. Now think about some of your bad experiences with products. Any bet it was a product where the company skimped on design. Do you still think BlackBerry should be skimping on design?

Posted via CB10

I hope they fix group text. I can only send mms to the group chat, if I do SMS, it sends out a text to each recipient individually. Conversations make no sense on their end

Posted via CB10

I concur. The visuals for BBB10 are of little concern to me. I need the communications apps to work properly. Tweaking icons isn't my idea of "getting things right."

I agree! Consumers don't care about visuals! Apple proved that! Apple is known for their lack of attention to visuals! And that's the way their customers like it!

Posted via CB10

I think you're confusing not caring about the visuals with minimalist design. Let me enlighten you.

Not caring about visuals - Couple minutes of work, no cohesive look and feel, terrible user experience

Minimalist design - hours worth of design work, extreme attention to detail at the pixel level, countless revisions to ensure that icons portray their intended message quickly and effectively

Please don't confused the former with the latter. BlackBerry focusing on the design and UX still is an extremely good sign. You'd be surprised how much more productive you can be with a well designed product over one that just has all the specs but thrown together haphazardly. Looks like BlackBerry is trying to both. Do the math...

Posted via CB10

Totally agree.

Oh look they've changed the color of the home screen battery Icon from white to antique white. Hooray, BlackBerry is saved and John Chen 's emperor 's clothes are so stylish! He's the man!!!

Tombstone - Combat Vets Motorcycle Assn - WWW.CVMAFLORIDA.ORG

Thank GAWD! Someone else mentions this. How can they sell these phones to business when they DO NOT work properly with Outlook!!!?

Prioritize! Without core functionality to sync Contacts & Calendar, the design team is merely painting the deck of the Titanic.

Yeah! They should lay off all their designers until they finish the Contacts app! Or they should teach the designers how to program so they can help finish the new Contacts app!

There is no point in having the designers do anything until the new contacts app is finished. They should sit at their desks and do nothing!

Posted via CB10

I don't care if it's flat or more detailed. Maybe a toggle between the two would be nice. I just don't get how the screen shot shows some icons flat and other icons detailed

T-Mobile Z10STL100-3/ 

You can get this look with any of the BB10 versions. Just set your wallpaper to an all black JPG. If you don't have one, just take a picture with your phone right up against a surface. It should get an all black picture.

That's exactly what I did a while back, bit it was in an attempt to reduce battery drain!

Tapped and flicked from my BlackBerry Z30!

As long as the text colour changes automatically depending on the wallpaper it should work fine for everyone.
White text would be illegible on light background wallpapers. Currently the time display has this issue.

CB10 @ Q5

This is exactly how I feel too. Personally I hate the flat dull look. Ditch the box, fine, but spend your limited resources fixing functional bugs rather than chasing pixels. You'll never make everyone happy anyhow with how something looks. That's why there were THEMES in BB OS7.

Smh you all sound clueless. They will always have a design team and a software team so just because you see leaked designs don't mean software isn't or is being worked on

Zee coolest flicking smartphone evah

I have said this probably 50+ times in the forums...its not a bandwagon or anything...its the entire trend of the WHOLE industry...web design, mobile, apps, everything is going flat. BlackBerry is doing a great job at keeping up and staying on pace with the entire industry.

Would you rather them keep their old icons, or better yet go back to 2008 icon styles?

Flat UI is here to stay for the foreseeable future, BlackBerry is wise to keep up with that trend...lets not spread rumours and ideas that its a "bandwagon" or that they are copying iOS 7 and all that junk because its simply not true.

I think its great, the icons definitely need more work but it was said by Clewley that these aren't finalized icons. We do get the idea of where they are heading towards though, and it is great!

"Flat UI is here to stay for the foreseeable future."
UI design is like the fashion industry.
No one knows who exactly says a style/design is hip or not. It trends for awhile, months, years, a decade...then it disappears. Replaced by something else we thought we couldn't get along without. Then lo! and behold! it comes back again. I even find myself liking the old 8-bit stylized graphics now, in spite of 3D renderings. :-)

I don't know have any real feelings on the boxed icons, but I wouldn't say they were exactly ugly. Everyone has their own preferences, I guess.

Exactly. Why do you think Minecraft is so popular in a world of 3D and life-like game imagery? If BlackBerry went back to the OS7 (or even OS5) iconography, it wouldn't bother me one bit. I just want a robust OS that is simple yet extremely powerful. That said, I do have to say that I'm not a fan of the flat look.

Well the entire industry is flat. You all would be the ones saying BlackBerry didn't adopt and evolve fast enough later on

Zee coolest flicking smartphone evah

Just saying the current icons do not warrant the "ugly" designation. The industry is fluid. Change happens all of the time and then come back around again.

I like my coffee BlackBerry Black! What?

Umm all os' are flat they are under glass....duh.

That being said flat is the trend. Like it or not.
Jonathan Ives is still an idiot

Posted via CB10

Not me! It's one thing to not adopt some new technology. It's something entirely different to shirk design trends.

By the time US carriers launch 10.3, the rest of the industry will be moving on to a new UI.

BlackBerry will always be at least 3 steps behind.

Not absolutely flat. Look, there are shadows behind the icons and some decent gradients. It's good to see a cleaner design without copying the current "everything flat" dogma, imho.

I happen to like the current icons, not ugly at all. This all sounds rather dogmatic to me, lol. And the icons pictured above do not appear to offer anything compelling whatsoever by way of improvement...

I don't mind the icons either, but they can ditch the gray box and the labeling if you ask me

Posted via CB10

Yup, get rid of the nice, clean but slightly 3d icons and follow what Apple's doing...

Why do BB wastes so much energy on so useless stuff instead of more important things like review of Calender, Remember, the browser, ...

You're right... why everyone have to follow this flat design train? and they are sure, every dev will use this design too? I don't thing so and it will look on the screen like a explosion of different styles...

Wenn du mir sagst, was dort draußen richtig ist, werde ich nicht mehr versuchen dich zu küssen... (Sayumi Whisp)

Finally geting rid of Aero UI and modernizing it. Not like iOS, not Like Android, but like Modern UI, Modern Design, not copying anyone, just following the pack. I'm glad Modern UI is coming.

"...not copying anyone, just following the pack. ..."

You know that doesn't make any sense, right? If you're "following the pack," you are doing what they do, ergo copying them.

Remember what happened last time they didn't keep up with the pack. They almost died. They let android and ios blow past them.

Aero UI transparency and flat design don't have to be an "either or" proposition.

You can have a flat design with cool Aero-like transparency at the same time.

Lack of transparency in Windows 8 is one of the reasons I've stuck with Windows 7 (among many many other reasons).

Posted via CB10

still better than old one ...its somehow ios styled but , ios is a bit more extreme on a flat design ...they should add a few more details to make it a bit different

Modern art made in the 60's. Bright, flat, simple. Somehow this artist went forward in time and stole apples masterpiece....

Well kink doesn't show up, but yeah modern art is old...

Unfortunately blackberry goes way which apple went. BlackBerry os 10 will become similar ios7 in future.

Posted via CB10

I think this new design is somewhere between the legacy BBOS and BB10. I'm happy the boxes are gone but unsure about the design of the icons.

Apple did it after Windows? What's your point?

It's the entire industry, they are all doing it...not a competition just a matter of WHEN the flat will come to an OS and apps as it will come to everything!

I agree with Mp...Apple has done it after WP, so what's your point? the entire industry is going this way. No way is BlackBerry copying Apple.

Posted via CB10

There are some idea that good for copy. And BlackBerry did it for changing icons in best way. Apple did a lot of improvement in performance of ios and even iPhone 4 with 256 mb ram could run it in smoothly but BlackBerry os 10 need more than 1 gb and use huge amount of cpu when running an app.
So optimisation should be a goal in future versions.

Posted via CB10

iPhone 4 has 512MB of RAM buddy, and it runs iOS7 like old granny with a walking stick. It also doesn't run Androids APK.

Posted via CB10

Oh noes! Look OS 10 has pull down quick access! They must had copied Android, right? Right??

Posted via CB10

took me a while but noticed you just loaded up that image on the Q10 directly from the chanel and took the photo. I thought you had the version for the Q10 as well

still looks like 1999..

Posted with my Z10 or Z30! ..mostly on my Q10. ..while I wait for a BB slider.

Having the icons over the background kills the background. The boxes just made it easier to read the labels if you had a busy background.

I didn't mind the boxes so much. But I do understand why some did.

Posted via CB10

They never really helped make the icons stand out much better -- especially if you had a dark background (since the boxes would just blend into the background). To work correctly you would need to automatically change the square's colour to contrast with the background.

I don't mind them. They bring consistency regardless of whether or not the icons themselves are different shapes, colors, etc. They also make it so any noisy wallpapers don't make the icons hard to see.

The shadows on 10.3 looks ok, but I'm hoping for a dynamic shadow that moves around either when you tilt the device or scroll, just to give depth and separate from the background.

I didn't mind them but hey majority rules. Maybe they want to consider allowing us the option for a box/shadow or just a flat design.

Posted via CB10

I actually like the boxes. It provided structure and organization. The current look is blah and will look messy when the screen is filled with icons.

Your not alone. I like the boxes and think they make everything look uniform. The boxes will missed.

Why follow when you can lead?

Posted via CB10

Well I personally don't get it, why do we have these nice screens with millions of colors and 350+ ppi if we are going to use flat icons. On these screens the icons can be with nice 3D effects (like the current BBWorld, kinda looks like a button), shadows, emboss and stuff, but instead we have 2 color simple drawing, it might as well be black and white screen. That is MY PERSONAL opinion, but i have heard a lot of people to say the same.

Can we try to let other CrackBerrians express their views without being trolled?...please?

Incurable Q10 Syndrome.....Keep away!!!!!!

Just please give me the option to make the battery percentage a permanent display option!!

Authored on the Q10

The black box helps the white text pop out more. Easier on the eyes. I don't like the flat icon look.

Posted via CB10 - Z30STA100-5/

I kind of like the boxes. Makes the text on the icon stand out when I've got a busier background image.

Nah, but people have short attention spans these days and need constant changes. I've heard people complaining about iOS 7 getting boring already. Go figure ;-)

I had no problems with the old design but your alternative would be better than the cartoon flat icons shown here

Z10 with OS

Awesome, i already got rid of the boxes with a work around though, a pure black background gets rid of them, but now I can have a background again soon. Sweeet

Apple, The New Evil Empire

Do most BB10 users really hate the box-outlines...? I like them. I like my phone not resembling an iPhone. In fact I wish BB would bring back the concept that legacy OS had where apps were in a pull-down tab. I like seeing my homescreen pic. Why isn't this customizable at all, or do they feel that's too complicated?

Posted via CB10

I'm not sure if you've ever used the playbook but your idea sounds exactly like the UI on the tablet. Apps are in a drawer much the same as in OS7 except the active frames float above, set on the screen horizontally. A few weeks ago there was a mockup on Crackberry that showed that BlackBerry toyed with the idea during early development but decided that it was either too confusing or there wasn't enough screen space to adequately do that on the phones.

Posted via CB10

I would love to have the option to have the icons in the same way that I have them on my PlayBook

Z10 with OS

Not a fan of the browser and camera icons, but I do like the direction. Hopefully the rest will go flat soon. If you have a mix of flat and non flat it might not looks so nice.

I'm also liking the removal of the black bats on the top and bottoms of the screen.

Posted via CB10

Put a pure black wallpaper (like a dark theme wallpaper) and you have no black boxes anymore.

Posted via CB10

It's exactly what I have made, and I found this beautiful. Black background with a white Q10, nice contrast.

Posted via CB10

I'm okay with the flat - just make them bigger, or the names bigger so I can see.


Posted via CB10

The boxes grew on me, but boxes or no boxes their new "flat" icons are quite hideous... what a shame.

Posted via CB10

Looks like possibly a 5th row of Icons. If that is a Z10 from the screen shots?

Posted via CB10

I was wondering which device this was because the top looks like a Q10 but the screen is obviously bigger.

Not sure I really cared too much about that... but it does look a bit tidier.
I look forward to simple things like built in panoramas, pptp VPN option or compatability with small business routers...

Have they thought of 3D-ish icons or somethings to that effect to make stand out? Also, could there be an option to turn of the icon titles? I know some need it or like it, but does it reeeeeeally need to be there since you have an image of the app?

I actually liked the boxed apps. Looks neat and clean. But why are they still designing user interface with app grid. Seems like there are more important things that need polishing along with closing the app gap & Google play services.

Posted via CB10

Exactly, this is all very superficial stuff. What Blackberry need is an option for users to sign up for Google services and have access to Google Play. Those who don't want to have Google services and are uncomfortable with Google having access to their data don't have to sign up for it. Blackberry needs to have this option and needs to have some kind of agreement with Google, if it really wants to come back in a big way. Give users option to have best of both the worlds. Or at least have some Android market app like 1mobile market preinstalled, especially in the emerging markets if it seriously wants to compete with cheap Android devices.

Those of us on Att will probably wait like a year if not more for 10.3 to be released

Posted via CB10

Ugly as I have abandoned WP for it looks - then shitty iOS7 for the same reason. Using Android and BlackBerry now. If this is where BB is heading - I will be off too. BlackBerry give us some customizations/skins - or stick this crappy flat design where it belongs to.

Got to point this one out there...Notice the "home" icon...Clewley is going to show a preview of what exactly that is tomorrow! BE EXCITED! I believe its going to be an updated Active Frames screen, hopefully with resizable, pinable, and interactive frames! Can't wait till tomorrow for that!

Also LOVE how the top and bottom bars are completely gone and the time and battery are just "floating" on the home screen! AWESOME...same goes for the bottom bar with search, camera and phone! No back bar its amazing its so clean!

FINALLY 5 rows for Z10 as been confirmed by Michael Clewley!!

Me personally I think the box around the apps are unique because they are original! I don't want anything resembling ios7! I'm learning that I'm not a fan of flat! But I am BlackBerry 4 Life! Like to see my Favorite smartphone company moving forward! Keep Fighting BlackBerry!

Posted via CB10

Good that the boxes are gone, but I much prefer Hub, Text, Browser, and Camera icons as in 10.2.1. I don't like the phone icon either but I can see how without the box they needed to anchor it to something...

Bring back themes users want customization... We don't want the apple way of business this is what you need not what you want!

Ugly, hate ? . Pretty strong words for something so trivial. I open my phone and tap the icon a want to use. What I want is fast recognition for faster tapping. I didn't even notice the Grey till people whined about it. I do have a background picture, but can't remember what it is. And here I thought the shallow people who only cared about image and looks had iPhones.

Posted via CB10

I hope we can have (5x4) icons rows now that the boxes will be gone.

Sent from my great STL100-1 white Z10 via CB10.

Hopefully the Q10 gets an extra row too :) Would love that since most of the apps I use are on page 1 and 2. Bringing 4 from page 2 to the front would be great! (and a time saver is always a nice addition)

Not approved by the NSA. My personal Q10

If I group my icons e.g. twitter, FB, BBM in a social media "box" is it still available and in a box?

 Z10 Channel C003BD1AF

Apple is tasty but blackberry is tastier.

BlackBerry was good
BlackBerry is getting better
BlackBerry will be the best tomorrow.

I loved 10.1
I'm in love with 10.2
I will love 10.3.

If you smell what the rock is cooking

If you feel what the bb is making, you will love both.

East or west,
BlackBerry is always the best

I love you BlackBerry.
I'm in the blackberry world and I'm happy.

Are you?

Posted via CB10

Hope lithuanian language and theming eill be introduced in next 10.3 release. Really really really really needed that :)

Posted via CB10

I hate the follow the pack approach with the flat icons. It's like going backwards.

Posted via CB10

Personally, I think the flat icons can look good with the drop shadow that they have. Consider me excited to see more from 10.3.

No boxes? Shetty looking in my opinion. What's next? Pastel colors like IOS7, IOS7.1?

Why not just become the next apple...heck, now there isn't much differentiating BlackBerry from Apple. Why do we need to follow or resemble that crew?

Posted via CB10

Cheap and lazy looking, with no visual appeal. Next to go is probably the fade when transitioning over from page to page, or when the device is awaken....

Seems like we keep going backwards too. Heck, maybe the graphics will become dots and dashes like Atari games someday, then they'll say, "Wow...we have the most simple, profession and sexy looking UI.


Posted via CB10

That's too bad. They're one of the things I like about bb10...

Posted via CB10 on my BlackBerry Z10!

It sounds like a chicken-coop.
Form should Always follow Function.

arTie's berry "Q10"

This CB10 app is crap. I constantly have trouble editing my posts. The edit post button is grayed out, and I cannot access the edit option.

Also, ion previous posts, after changing my profile picture, and post something, my old photos are still showing. How can that be when I deleted my picture to begin with?

Is crackberry like Facebook, that once you upload a picture, it becomes their property and can essentially be used to do whatever they want with it?

Please elaborate. Please fix your shetty app.

Posted via CB10

I never cared about the icons. I'm not staring at them all day. I'm on an app, composing/reading emails/texts, on the calendar, etc.

Will eventually be posted via CB10 on my Z70

Did anyone notice a home icon at the bottom of the screen? In the rack which we use to slide between screens...??

Posted via CB10

Follow the boring iPhone with pastel colors. Absolute junk UI.

Keep the boxes, and the way the UI fades and makes it's transitions.

We don't want kiddie phones, and bubblegum colors.

Posted via CB10