Recently, I've seen that Gmail and Dropbox have changed their notification icon and have started using bell.

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I would like to understand:

  1. Why bell?
  2. Is it becoming industry standard?
  • What icon was it before the bell?
    – J_rgen
    Aug 5, 2013 at 6:36
  • 1
    When you have million active users at any one day, whatever you are doing are pretty much industry standard.
    – Aditya
    Aug 5, 2013 at 6:50
  • @J_rgen Previously, it was just a box with number of notifications. i.imgur.com/MgKPL.png And about Dropbox I guess they didn't have any or something like inbox was there. nsbasic.com/images/blog/deploydropbox1.png
    – Ankit
    Aug 5, 2013 at 6:58

1 Answer 1


Bells have been used for signaling forever, really.

On that premise, it's easy to go for a bell when it comes to notifications, as they are just that; signals that something is happening.

A bell requires - maybe even demands - your attention, and so does a notification!

As to whether it's industry standard or not, it currently doesn't pass a quick Google test*, but as mentioned by others, Gmail's/Dropbox's adoption of this pattern might help.

On top of that, it doesn't necessarily have to be industry standard to be the right icon.

Edit: *if you alter your search to the word "alarm", which might be less contaminated, the result does get a lot closer.

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