UI Design

Five Android and iOS UI Design Guidelines

iOS and Android are two platforms dominating the mobile app market. It’s why entrepreneurs around the world are targeting both OS in hopes of gaining a competitive advantage against other leaders in their industry. 

Both platforms, however, offer different things to their users and the business owners. Android has a global target market, whereas iOS is leading the polls in Western Europe, North America, and Australia.

Additionally, for mobile app design companies, the differences begin from the programming languages to the user interface, app icons, native APIs, and more. 

The blog discusses some of the significant variations in the UI design of Android and iOS apps. If you’re designing an app for both platforms, then you need to know their crucial design guidelines:

App Navigation

Navigation is one of the significant differences in Android and iOS UI. It is the process of how users navigate around the app, switch screens, and perform various app functions. For developers working on UI designs of the two platforms, it is vital to keep in mind the difference in their in-app navigation. 

Android apps have a navigation bar with the page title in the top-left corner, following a drawer menu or a back button, which is optional. Towards the right, they have a call-to-action option like a search icon, with an overflow menu at the end. 

Contrarily, the iOS platform does not have an in-built navigation system, so all apps display the name of the previous tab in the top-left corner of the screen, along with a mandatory back button. The middle of the navigation bar carries the page title, with a call-to-action option at the top-right.

Furthermore, for an iOS app, primary navigation patterns include foreground and the hamburger menu that stores seldom-used functions. On the other hand, the primary navigation style for Android apps features options compiled in a hamburger menu or spread throughout the interface.

Methods of Navigation

Android and iOS UI also differ in the techniques available to users. They offer distinct ways in how users can switch screens, go back to the home screen, and more. 

There are two significant variations in modes of navigation, you’ll find in Android and iOS apps:

  • Home Button

The home button is one of the most prominent differences between the two platforms. Android devices offer three separate, in-built navigation buttons, whereas iOS hardware feature only one button for global navigation.

The three buttons in Android devices represent back, home, and overview options. Users can use these buttons for navigating throughout the system. They can conveniently go back to the previous page in an app, switch to the home screen, and see an overview of all running apps. 

Additionally, the three buttons, eliminate any dependency of Android users on in-app back buttons to navigate around the app. 

Whereas, iOS users have a single home button for navigating across the entire system. They need a separate back button to visit the previous screens in all their applications.

Thus, your designers need to take note of these details in their UI designs to offer the best user experience on both platforms.

  • Navigation Bar

In addition to the arrangement of navigation elements in Android and iOS apps, the position of the navigation bar or in-app tab also differs. 

All Android apps have a standard drawer menu at the left side of the screen hidden behind a hamburger menu icon. It holds all destinations in an app that users would need. 

Contrarily, iOS apps have a global in-app navigation bar at the bottom of the app screen. It features all sections that are fundamental app functions.  

Button Designs (CTA)

Material Design Guidelines for Android apps state that buttons feature an uppercase font style and shadow effect. iOS apps, however, have a flat design with the font in the title case. 

The action button signifies the primary app function, for example, uploading and sharing photos on Instagram or composing emails on Gmail. Its design also varies between the two platforms.

In iOS apps, the CTA button has a central locus in the navigation bar if it is at the bottom of the screen. Alternatively, if the navigation bar is on top, then the principal action-button is on the upper-right corner of the screen. 

Contrarily, all Android apps have an analogous design for CTAs. The floating action button appears above app bars or on the edge of some elements.

Typography

The font styles and layout applied to all the text in an application are another distinct feature of Android and iOS apps. While Android has long since preferred Roboto font as a standard for all apps, iOS switched to San Francisco in 2015. 

San Francisco has more efficient use of space, ideal for small screens like mobile phones and Apple Watches, as well as large desktop screens, unlike its predecessor Helvetica Neue font.

Furthermore, the two platforms feature a similar font size, but Material Design Guidelines ask for a more significant distinction in the size of text and its layout from Android apps. That said, iOS apps display text hierarchy using variants of its system typeface, including SF UI Text and SF UI Display. 

App Icons

App Icons are an artistic representation of a brand that differentiates it from its competitors. It is also another area where Android and iOS platforms differ.

iOS apps have a standard design canvas that designers must follow to meet iOS App Store guidelines. These apps have a defined square shape with rounded edges and feature flattened images. Apple recommends these prerequisites to ensure clarity and transparency in design, allowing users to understand the icon easily. 

Android apps, on the other hand, are inherently more flexible in their icon design. While Material Design guidelines offer suggestions for icon design, most designers prefer to have a free hand.

You can use paper shadows, a diverse color palette, with a transparent background. That said, Android app icons can appear in any shape or form.

Next Step: Create Your Mobile App!

The screen resolution for each platform, number of features, and individual style elements all are also significant factors that influence the user experience of an app. They are essential characteristics that developers and designers need to keep in mind when developing a fully-functional, user-oriented mobile app.

Now that you understand the UI design guidelines, the next step is for you to search for the best mobile app design companies to work on your app idea. 

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