The founding feathers are back

If you’re old enough to have seen the moment when Prey, the Prey Project, was born, you might remember that our logo used to be a realistic condor: a massive vulture native to the Andes mountains, that can grow up to two meters wide with its wings fully open. Basically a huge terrifying beast.

What you probably don’t know is that the original condor logo was the product of a one-minute Google search for something like “big threatening bird that is about to eat something that is also big”, and a following two-minute “convert bitmap to path” command on Inkscape using the first or second entry for that search.

Those were the days.

Some months later we got to run Prey on a phone for the first time, using a G2 Android that we were lucky enough to get at the I/0 conference in 2009. (Oh yes, young ones. There was a time when you could actually get into Google’s event just by buying a ticket). Then we realized that we needed a squarish icon, and that our current horizontal big logo wouldn’t fly for that purpose, so we had to figure something out.

At that point Prey featured geolocation support — the first version obviously didn’t — and back then it was actually a big thing, so we decided to start using a radar to highlight this concept. But we didn’t want to get rid of the bird (who’d want to?) so after a twenty-minute session on Inkscape we settled on this Frankenstein.

Hell did we think we were Picassos.

And here’s a funny thing: take a closer look at the image above. Notice something weird? No? Well, take another look. Still nothing? Oh come on, hit the Ctrl key on your Mac and scroll in to zoom like real close on the bird’s head. Now you see it?

Oh yes, sir. You’ve found it: that flying bird isn’t really a condor! It was actually a clipart from a raven that we — well, me, really — crappily modified to look like a condor, with its bald human-like skin color. Frankenstein all the way, baby.

For quite some time we used the “bird over radar” mutant icon for our mobile apps, but we kept using the original “threatening condor” on our website. The supporting artwork ended up being a mix of these two things: sometimes we used feathers, sometimes we used the radar.

Here’s a few examples of our highly sofisticated artwork.

There’s one of the first versions of the sonar (flat as hell). And as for the feathers:

Anyway, as the project turned into a product, and the original two-man army turned into a bigger team, we decided that it was time to say tohdaloo to the old condor and replace our funny icon for something more suitable. So the obvious choice was, of course, just use the radar by itself.

And the “appified” version of our logo:

Of course, at that point everyone was using a radar for their tracking apps, so definitely no innovation there. Even Apple launched its Find my iPhone app using the same concept. You know, we’re like best friends with them. 🙂

And that brings us to today, five years later of the original publish of the script. Our team has grown and now new, talented designers rule Prey’s pixel kingdom. They’ve done the proper work of studying, testing, and rethinking the Prey brand image not only to have a consistent use throughout all of Prey (apps, installers, website and social media), but also to bring justice to the original idea of what Prey is about.

Personally, I think they nailed it.

And here’s the App Store version.

Prey new logo as an icon for appstore

So out goes the radar, and back is the bird. Perhaps not as threatening, perhaps not in its hairy horizontal form, but yes, the founding feathers that brought Prey into existence are definitely back.

And here’s the best part: this is just the beginning. You might have heard about our beta, about our clients being rewritten, or about the control panel being redesigned. The fact that we’re renewing our logo is not a mere coincidence — we want to make a clear statement that our commitment to Prey’s open, release-early-release-often origins hasn’t been forgotten, but all the contrary: we’re going back to the time when it was only about the product, above all else.

The time has finally come to unleash the kraken.