Time Out 2 icon

As many of you already know, I've been planning version 2 of Time Out, my handy break reminder tool, for quite some time.

I actually started work on it about a year ago, but then got distracted by iPhone and iPad apps, with some experimentation, an abandoned project, and finally Tweeps, my iPhone and iPad app to manage Twitter accounts. But now I'm back working on my Mac apps, with Simon 2.6 underway currently, and resuming work on Time Out 2 next month, at long last.

Anyway, in preparation for this major upgrade, I wanted to design a new icon for Time Out. The current icon (seen above) is actually not all that old; the app originally had a really ugly icon. But while I mostly like this icon, it isn't perfect. The bezel around it isn't shaded properly, and a number of people are put off by the yoga figure in the background; it can offend the sensibilities of some people for religious or philosophical reasons.

I'd like your help.

I'm not sure what design to use for the new icon. I've enlisted the help of a professional icon designer, but I don't want to waste his time in sketching notions when I don't know what I want. Can you help me?

When you think of taking a break, what image springs to mind?

If you use Time Out now, what image would you prefer to see during the breaks? (Note, Time Out 2 will have more versatile break options, so you won't have to see the icon then at all. But imagine what better image could be used in the current version.)

Have a think about that before reading on.

My own notions tend to be similar to the current icon. A clock, much like the current icon, but with an improved design. Or a stopwatch, or perhaps a kitchen timer, or even a pocket watch.

One fun idea I had was to draw wedge segments over the icon when it's in the Dock, or in the app, to show when upcoming breaks are due, and how long they are. If the icon were a clock, it could have live clock hands showing the current time, with colored segments representing the breaks that are coming up over the next hour. That could also work with a kitchen timer or perhaps stopwatch design. But since Time Out 2 won't have to be running in your Dock, this idea may not be all that useful, so the icon doesn't necessarily have to be constrained by it.

Anyway, I'd love to hear from existing Time Out users or potential users. What are your icon design ideas? Let me know in the comments or contact me privately.

MT36000's picture

Re: Time Out 2 icon

For me, there's no problem to use the actual icon again mainly because the image I'd love to see is the image in your icon (the yogi in meditation is the perfect image for a break even a micro one). If you really want to enhance something, enhance the bezel as you say it's not perfect.



Re: Time Out 2 icon

I hacked TimeOut's resources and replaced the yogi image with this one, an 18th-century watercolor related to a project I'm working on. It works great for me.

Monarch butterfly

I doubt everyone would go for it, though. I like the clock ideas you describe, esp. the kitchen timer variation. TimeOut replaced an actual kitchen timer for me.

I objected to the meditation image because it seems to make light of Eastern religion, not unlike things that use "Zen" as a brand name. It's just a break from my work, not a quest for enlightenment. Moving away from that image is a good idea, I'd say.

David Sinclair's picture

Re: Time Out 2 icon

Thanks for the comments. These sorts of diverse opinions (and others) are why I want to replace the yoga figure. Some people like it, some people don't like it because they're against Eastern religions, and some don't like it because they do. Time Out is about taking breaks, not making philosophical statements — what you do during your breaks is up to you. Meditate, stretch, rest your eyes, stare into space, whatever.

I'm still not sure about the fundamental design — I want one simple real-world object to represent taking a break. I'm currently still leaning towards a clock metaphor, but a kitchen timer is a close second.

Anyone else have any opinions? I'm all ears!