Avoid cross platform app design mistakes by knowing more about these distinct Android elements – Part 2

Last week (https://www.goodworklabs.com/avoid-cross-platform-app-design-mistakes-by-knowing-more-about-these-distinct-android-elements-part-1/) we had an interesting look at how the spurt in demand for Android operating system has spawned a whole new generation of developers seeking to gain expertise in this challenging yet captivating domain. We continued by looking at how developers tend to re-use iOS app design elements in Android app design and how the common design element unique to Android need to be considered in order to provide an enriching user experience to Android app users.

cross platform image

Some of the common design elements that are found only in Android ecosystem and not in the same form in iOS will include

  1. Distinct back navigation
  2. Spinner choice selection element
  3. Tab navigation
  4. Flexibility in screen size

While we covered point1 in our earlier blog (https://www.goodworklabs.com/avoid-cross-platform-app-design-mistakes-by-knowing-more-about-these-distinct-android-elements-part-1/), we will now continue with other Android-specific design elements that developers need to be careful while porting iOS design elements to Android –

2. Spinners – In Android, selection out of multiple options is enabled by the spinner element. They are extremely easy and versatile to use, and can be used across a multitude of functionalities within an app. One common usage is for data selection in form. For instance if you’re looking to fill up ‘State’ information is US, you might be presented with a spinner that reads a list starting from ‘Alabama’ and ending with ‘Wyoming’. Of these states, you can select one that pertains to your details. In iOS, this is taken care of by iOS action sheet. An example is the calendar that shows different design for Android and iOS.


3. Tab navigation – The key difference between iOS and Android in tab navigation is the placement. While iOS recommends placing it at the bottom of the page, Android suggests keeping the tabs at the top. Remember the different tabs that come up in Google Play Store – ‘Top Free’, Top Paid’ or ‘Featured’? These are the tabs placed on top in Android that allows relevant navigation.

4. Screen size – Since iOS develops apps only for Apple devices, the screen sizes are pretty much standardized (though the advent of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, change just change all that in Apple). Thus, when using iOS elements, developers need to ensure that they also work on a mind-boggling variety of Android device screen sizes – from 3.5 inch to 7 inch. This huge fragmentation of screen size and device capability brings is own set of design challenges. Android developers need to ensure that their designs are fluid and supple to suit all screen sizes on Android.

Our take on this – Of course development costs do matter, but it should never be at the expense of UI/UX needs of the Android user. When it comes to deriving top class user experience, it is not an option but rather a necessity. Android itself has a great user experience to offer, and extracting the maximum from these unique Android-only elements/functionalities is a good way to enable this. Let us know if you know of any other element that is singularly unique to Android and which needs to be altered specifically if taken from iOS environment.

Avoid cross platform app design mistakes by knowing more about these distinct Android elements – Part 1

As of Q3 2013, Android commanded a staggering 81.3% of global smartphone shipments1. With such a huge market, it is certainly a rewarding career opportunity as an Android app developer. An Android app development company has a challenging task of keeping up with industry evolutions and shifts in customer preferences.

Cross Platform App Design

Also, iOS and Android together commanding a mind-boggling 94.7% of market share in Q3 20131 in terms of operating systems. Considering this fact, it is no surprise that companies will look to port their existing Android app development proficiencies in making iOS app too or other way round. Many developers tend to begin their app development project by assuming that they will devise an app for iOS too concurrently. While this does work to some extent in bringing down development costs, what if the expenses of cross platform app design mistakes is higher than the benefits provided?

This is precisely what we witness when we try to do too many things at one time. It is a common pitfall to try using a previously designed iOS and simply trying to tweak the iOS experience to suit the Android ecosystem. Though there are similarities in navigation or basic elements of UI, the actual modality in achieving native UI/UX experience is what convinces us to treat Android as a separate development project altogether.

Our take on this – If we know the common mistakes that occur by using iOS designs for Android, and take care to avoid/repeat the same, we can still achieve a distinct look for both iOS and Android app by using most of the elements/components from one platform to another. Today, in this first part of a 2-part blog, we look at some such unique elements in Android that is completely different from iOS and should be accounted for specifically, when porting iOS elements.

  1. Back navigation – The iOS comes with its unique and quite visible ‘back’ button. It usually appears on top left corner when user navigates one level above. The rectangular box with left side in form of an arrow shows the name of the ‘one-level-below’ folder as label. Tapping on this takes the user to the previous page or to the earlier level. In Android the same effect is achieved by a curved ‘back’ arrow usually appearing on the bottom left corner. In addition it also has a similar top left placed ‘up’ button on action bar where the main app icon is located. So what do these buttons do exactly?

The ‘back’ bottom button navigates to previous screens and continues doing so till it reaches the Android home screen, even it means traversing across multiple apps in the process. In the ‘up’ arrow however, it will go back one level only till the time it reaches the main view / first view of the app.

Next up in the 2nd and concluding part, we continue with some more Android-specific elements that need to be looked into when executing cross-platform app design to achieve a fabulous native Android app experience.

1 – http://thenextweb.com/mobile/2013/10/31/strategy-analytics-android-smartphone-shipments-81-3-q3-2013-ios-13-4-windows-phone-4-1/

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