SF Symbols Changes in iOS 14

Introduction

In WWDC 2019: 206, Introducing SF Symbols Apple announced a great new resource for iOS developers:

SF Symbols 2

At WWDC 2020, Apple announced a significant update: SF Symbols 2:

SF Symbol Browsing Apps

To make it easy to browse and search the available symbols, Apple released their SF Symbols Mac app back in 2019:

Apple’s SF Symbols Mac app v1.1 (16) from 2019
iOS 14 System Images view in Adaptivity v7.1 on 12.9" iPad Pro

Changes in SF Symbols 2

In this article I want to focus on the changes to SF Symbols in iOS 14. I’ll refer to iOS versions for simplicity, but SF Symbols are also supported in watchOS 6 and 7, tvOS 13 and 14, Mac Catalyst apps, and native Mac apps as of macOS 11 Big Sur.

  • Renamed symbols 60 symbols from iOS 13 have been renamed.
  • Multicolor symbols 158 symbols have multicolor support.
  • Localized variants More right-to-left localized symbols. More localized versions of symbols which include punctuation or numeric digits.
  • Bug Fixes A few symbols that didn’t match their names have been fixed.

New Symbols

Version 2 of Apple’s SF Symbols app added a ‘What’s New’ category to highlight the new symbols. I have added the same category to Adaptivity when viewing the iOS 14 symbols. There are 987 symbols in this category, but some of them are renamed versions of existing iOS 13 symbols (see below for more information).

iOS 14 System Images ‘What’s New’ category in Adaptivity v7.1 on 12.9" iPad Pro
iOS 14 System Images ‘Restricted’ collection in Adaptivity v7.1 on 12.9" iPad Pro

Renamed Symbols

Some 60 symbols have been renamed in iOS 14. For apps that support iOS 13, the older names must be used when actually running on iOS 13. When running on iOS 14, either name can be used. It’s probably simpler (i.e. no conditional code) to always use the old name. Apple have provided backward compatibility in iOS 14 and will, presumably, continue to do so in future iOS versions. If your app requires iOS 14 then I recommend using the new names.

  • Differentiation with new symbols E.g. dial is now dial.min as dial.max was added.
  • Fixing spelling mistakes E.g. ellipses.bubble is now ellipsis.bubble.
  • Fixing incorrect names E.g. square.stack.3d.down.dotted.line is now square.stack.3d.forward.dottedline — there's nothing "down" about the symbol.
  • More descriptive names E.g. flip.horizontal is now arrow.left.and.right.righttriangle.left.righttriangle.right.
iOS 14 System Images ‘Renamed’ collection in Adaptivity v7.1 on 12.9" iPad Pro
iOS 14 System Images ‘Renamed’ collection, context menu and List view in Adaptivity v7.0 on iPhone 11 Pro
SF Symbols which were renamed betwen iOS 13 and 14

Multicolor Symbols

SF Symbols have always supported tinting. Apple made a big deal in their SF Symbols 2 announcement that some symbols now support multicolor. The GM release of SF Symbols v2.0 (build 40) removed 4 symbols and added 2 symbols to the Multicolor category. There are now 156 multicolor symbols, with a mixture of existing iOS 13 symbols and new iOS 14 symbols. Of course the multicolor feature only works in iOS 14 even for symbols that are available in iOS 13.

iOS 14 System Images ‘Multicolor’ category in Adaptivity v7.0 on iPhone 11 Pro

Localized Variants

Even in iOS 13, some symbols would appear horizontally flipped in right-to-left localizations. Some symbols (e.g. the goforward.10 etc. series of symbols) showed the numerals in Arabic or Devanagari.

iOS 13 System Images ‘Right-to-Left’ collection in Adaptivity v7.0 on 12.9" iPad Pro
iOS 14 System Images ‘Right-to-Left’ collection in Adaptivity v7.1 on 12.9" iPad Pro
iOS 14 System Images in Adaptivity v7.0 on iPhone 11 Pro
iOS 14 System Images in Adaptivity v7.0 on iPhone 11 Pro in Right-to-Left layout

Bug Fixes

In iOS 13 there were a small number of symbols with “lefthalf” and “righthalf” in their name. The triangle and square left/right pairs had the wrong half of the image selected (right instead of left, and vice-versa):

iOS 13 “half” SF Symbols in Adaptivity v7.0 on iPhone 11 Pro running iOS 13.6 (left) and iOS 14 beta 5 (right)

Changes During the iOS 14 Beta

To help developers keep up with changes during the beta cycle, Adaptivity had custom collections to show the changes in beta 2, 3, and 5. There were no changes in beta 4 or 6 through to the final release. At the time of writing, v2.0 of Apple’s SF Symbols Mac app is build 40 and includes the symbols as of the public release of iOS 14.

iOS 14 Beta 2

Amongst the changes in beta 2 were a lot of new arrow and chevron symbols with right-to-left localizations. star.lefthalf.fill was renamed as star.leadinghalf.fill (it was always right-to-left localized but now has a better name). The following two screenshots show all the changes in beta 2:

iOS 14 System Images ‘iOS 14 Beta 2’ collection in Adaptivity v7.0 on 12.9" iPad Pro
iOS 14 System Images ‘iOS 14 Beta 2’ collection in Adaptivity v7.0 on 12.9" iPad Pro

iOS 14 Beta 3

Beta 3 added new symbols including terminal, appclip, homepod.2, ladybug, and various sidebars. Some arrow symbols were renamed to list “left” before “right”:

iOS 14 System Images ‘iOS 14 Beta 3’ collection in Adaptivity v7.0 on 12.9" iPad Pro

iOS 14 Beta 5

Beta 5 brought more new symbols. There are now individual left/right airpod and airpodpro symbols, more speakers, shapes and heart symbols. Symbols containing the word “sheqel” were renamed to “shekel”:

iOS 14 System Images ‘iOS 14 Beta 5’ collection in Adaptivity v7.0 on 12.9" iPad Pro

Changes in SF Symbols v2.0 GM release

On September 23rd 2020, Mike Stern (Platform Experience and Design Evangelism Manager at Apple) tweeted that the GM version SF Symbols v2.0 was now available. This is build 40. The previously-available version, build 37, didn’t include symbol changes in iOS 14 beta 5. No symbols were changed in iOS 14 after beta 5.

iOS 14 System Images ‘Gaming’ category in Adaptivity v7.1 on 12.9" iPad Pro

Resources

Apple

WWDC 2019: 206, Introducing SF Symbols

Other Articles

SF Symbols in iOS 13 and SF Symbols: The benefits and how to use them guide by Antoine van der Lee.

Adaptivity

The screenshots in this article were taken either from a pre-release version of Adaptivity v7.0 (to show the changes in various iOS 14 betas) or the public v7.1. I closed the TestFlight beta after iOS 14 was released and v7.0 was released on the App Store. v7.1 has the same symbols as SF Symbols v2.0 (build 40) and was released on the App Store on 23rd September 2020.

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I have written articles on Bringing Adaptivity to Mac Catalyst, How to Switch Your iOS App and Scene Delegates for Improved Testing and the View Controller Presentation Changes in iOS 13.

Independent and freelance software developer for iPhone, iPad and Mac