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Samsung's designers copying Apple again in Samsung Pass icons

Second icon from the left and straight on to the lawyers. (Photo: iMore)

Glance at that Face ID icon as your phone unlocks, and see if you can spot a similarity to what Samsung has revealed as the symbol for its new Samsung Pass.

Typically, when Samsung announces something new, there is at least a temptation to look up your iPhone to see whether Apple has done it before. This time, though, you just have to look at your iPhone.

While HS Kim, president and CEO of Consumer Electronics Division, Samsung Electronics, stood on stage and announced something or other about security, the audience in the room tried to peer around him. (Photo by iMore.)

It's Kim's speech writers you have to feel for. If anyone actually listened to him describe the new Samsung Pass, it was through politeness because they truly didn't need to. The writing was on the wall.

And that writing said Apple's Face ID. If you're a lawyer with a pixel-accurate ruler, you might disagree, but to anyone else in the world, Samsung has just taken Apple's icon.

To be fair, icons are meant to convey information quickly and you did instantly recognize everything Samsung Pass has to offer. You can't hurry icon design that's this rich and communicative.

All you can hope to do is copy a familiar idea and slap an extremely well-known icon on top of it.

And when we say well known, we don't just mean from this latest use by Apple. While that face with the cut-off rounded rectangle corners representing a target, is Face ID, the face itself goes back further.

L-R: the original Mac, Face ID, and the Finder today
L-R: the original Mac, Face ID, and the Finder today

Face ID was announced by Apple in 2017, but the face in the center of that icon was created 20 years earlier. It's a version of the same two-face smiling Mac icon that Susan Kare drew for System 8 in 1997.

And that's pretty much a version of the one she drew for the original Mac in 1984.

There is an argument — Samsung lawyers take note — for when icons pass into general use. The familiar smiley face, for instance, was created by Harvey Ross Bell and you've not once paid him a cent for using it.

Or there are icons that are created in the hope that they will be copied so much that they become universal. Apple uses at least one of these that you'll recognize — the Power/Standby icon. It's from a set created by the ISO.

The familiar power/standby icon that Apple uses is actually one of a set by the ISO
The familiar power/standby icon that Apple uses is actually one of a set by the ISO

Unfortunately for Samsung, Apple didn't elect to make its Face ID icon freely available. And — Apple lawyers take note — the company did remember to trademark it, too.