Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Illustration in the App Store

Khoi Vinh:

Apple’s dramatically redesigned App Store got a decent amount of attention when it debuted last year with iOS 11, but its unique success as a hybrid of product design and editorial design has gone little noticed since. That’s a shame, because it’s a huge breakthrough.

I myself paid it scant attention until one day this past winter when I realized that the company was commissioning original illustration to accompany its new format. If you check the App Store front page a few times a week, you’ll see a quietly remarkable display of unique art alongside unique stories about apps, games and “content” (movies, TV shows, comics, etc.). To be clear: this isn’t work lifted from the marketing materials created by app publishers. It’s drawings, paintings, photographs, collages and/or animations that have been created expressly for the App Store.

I’m not sure what the Today tab has done for me in terms of app discovery, but it’s my favourite feature of the redesigned App Store, in large part because of these illustrations. I only wish there were some way to see updates to the Today tab that’s more passive than opening the App Store — via a widget, perhaps. I often find myself remembering to open the App Store for several days to check out new Today articles, then forgetting for a week or two. Perhaps it just isn’t routine yet.