Working on a PWA (progressive web app) and coming up with the app icon for it. There aren't many others around since it's pretty new but it seems a lot of PWAs use a circular icon to differentiate from the native app.

Is there a particular reason they are choosing a circular icon compared to the many other options? Is this a standard or a guideline(coming from google it wouldn't be a surprise)?

enter image description here

  • 1
    Can't simulate in my device... do you have the latest version of Chrome? or is it phone specific? Try updating you chrome or use another browser to do the same (not sure if they have such feature). Anyway, it could have been a strategy from Google to keep it separate from native app icons but as any app can have a circular icon, they might have decided to scrap it. Nov 14, 2016 at 10:13
  • I don't know for sure, but I know that Google's newest Android phone, the Pixel, uses circular icons for most of its application launchers. So Google does seem to be at least experimenting with a design language where "circular icons = apps", even though that is not currently part of the Material design guidelines for launcher icons.
    – calum_b
    Dec 15, 2016 at 17:27

1 Answer 1


These days the difference between web applications and native apps are quite blurred... but in terms of the question that you asked about the icons, I think it is hard to say whether the shape of the icon is linked to how the application is developed.

If anything, the shape of the icon will probably be determined by existing guidelines for the native application's development platform (e.g. Windows, Android or Apple), and even these will evolve over time so you have to look at apps of similar timeline. Then there will be additional branding guidelines dictated by the company and their marketing teams, and you might even have to delve into sub-brands.

There is definitely a need to differentiate between the web vs. native application, but I have not come across any guidelines or standards that define the shape of the icon which relates to the technology being used to develop them.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.