This is a trend article.
A circular avatar arises when all user avatars or profile pictures are cropped or masked to a circular shape.
- Popularised by the seminal iOS-focused social network Path in 2010 or 2011.
- Adopted by Apple in OS X Lion (?).
- Co-opted by Google for Google+, where it went along with their circular theme (groups of friends there are called “Circles”).
- Facebook uses them heavily in their “Facebook Home” project, especially in “Chat Heads” which make their way to Facebook for iOS and elsewhere. However, Facebook avatars are still usually square.