I've been assigned the task to add an icon / CTA to enable users to invite people to our application from their contact list.

Due to width restriction, especially with localization, one of the criteria I got was to try and avoid using text for the CTA (Eg Invite) and try and find a suitable icon that communicates the action only using form/colour.

I made a first draft for such an icon, a post letter with our app/company icon stuck into it and an arrow cueing "ready to send".

enter image description here

However I worry about a few things looking at the icon.

  • Is it too cluttered, hard to see what it is?
  • Is it hard to identify what the icon is trying to communicate? Something stuck into a letter, what does that mean?

I would love to get some feedback on this icon, even though it may be dangerously close of stepping over the On Topic -line.. I would appreciate constructive feedback on this if you like. I'm not very adept at designing icons, so if you are then please give me a piece of your mind if you want to.

However, what I'm really interested to know though is if it would be OK to use the standard Android sharing icon for this:

enter image description here OR enter image description here

As far as I know these icons are generally only utilized in Android native UI and Android applications. Does anyone have an idea of whether it would be OK to use this icon also for iOS and WP users or if it could be considered as a fish out of water and not fit at all?

  • 6
    This icon question is a bit close to the OT requirements, however provided you're really focussed on the cross-OS usage of the Android-style Share icon indicated then that's fine. However, for answers please don't just suggest your own alternatives unless they can be backed up with evidence. i.e. {this} icon is used in both {iOS} and {Android} applications, and are very popular applications so it is realistic to assume that they are common cross-OS icons' that sort of this is more suitable.
    – JonW
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 14:21
  • 4
    I'm an Android user and I'm not used to that icon yet :-) Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 14:39
  • 1
    @DannyVarod haha, well... that's not a good sign I guess.. =) Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 15:22
  • 1
    Go with your design. I am an Android user on my phone, and even I didn't know what the icons are for... Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 18:38
  • I must say I didn't recognise the right Android share icon, but that is the old one from when you press the 'menu' button. The left share button is from the contextual action bar in the new Android guidelines e.g. in the Play store app.
    – Pesikar
    Commented Jan 11, 2013 at 17:52

4 Answers 4


The iOS Human Interface Guidelines on standard icons shows another icon as standard share icon. iOS users should be more familiar with this share icon and not recognize the Android one.

iOS Share button

Windows phone 8 does have an other standard share icon.

Windows Phone 8 share icon

jQuery mobile doesn't include a share icon.

So you could have a look at a popular multi-platform apps see what kind of icon they use.


The BBC uses the new Android share icon as generic share icon above and below their articles:

BBC share icons

The embedded Youtube player also uses this share icon:

Embedded Youtube with share icon

As it keeps spreading, the more likely it becomes that people get familiar with this share icon.

  • +1 Thanks for your answer! I was unaware of the iOS share icon, quite unaware of many of the iOS guidelines to be honest... Thanks for your input! Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 19:16

I asked three heavily entrenched iOS users (in their 20s) if they knew what either of the two "Share" icons were and none of them recognized the symbol. None of them are particularly tech savvy either.

This confirms a conclusion I made in 2010 that people do not regularly recognize the Share icon enough to use it yet. For that reason, depending on your primary user base, I would steer away for now.

Your original icon (blue cloud in envelope with arrow) is far too cluttered but does resemble the email "Forward". I would stay with something closer to what you have but drastically reduce the size of the blue logo in the envelope and make the arrow more predominant. Here's a quick example:

enter image description here

  • 1
    +1 I am an Android user on my phone, and even I didn't know what the icons are for... Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 18:37
  • +1 I really appreciate the effort! And thanks for the quick check in the iOS crowd! =) I'll make sure to make an additional icon more resembling what you described to have among the alternatives to choose from! Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 19:18
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    Honestly, I'm not sure if the arrow is necessary, either. That said, many users will associate an envelope with "e-mail this to someone", rather than realizing it also provides support for tweeting, liking, etc.
    – Brian
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 21:34

Microsoft wrote about an A/B test it held for different kinds of share icons. It turned out that people were most familiar with their platform's icons, but the platform-agnostic icon that performed best for both audiences was an arrow pointing right, out of a rectangle.

From the UX designer's comment on her article:

So even though most people were most familiar with their own platform’s icon, there was also a leading candidate regardless of platform, which is the icon we landed on. :)


I am glad you care about this matter. You absolutely should not use Android icon on iOS. I don’t remember which but one of the WWDC videos shows this icon as example of bad iOS design.

Personally I don’t like Android icons in my iOS apps and I usually complain to developer about this.

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