Mobile App DevelopmentUI DesignUX Design

Key Differences in Designing iOS & Android Native Apps

Designing iOS & Android Apps

Unlike operating systems for PC and laptops, such as Linux, Mac OS, and Windows, the mobile application industry is dominated by two different types of platforms. iOS, and Android. Apple owns iOS meanwhile, the latter is owned by Google and used by most mobile manufacturers. 

While they are both very well-known platforms for application developers, there are a few key differences when it comes to designing iOS and Android native applications that you should keep in mind.

Default Font Type

While this difference is quite subtle, both operating systems recommend that you implement the appropriate font with the appropriate operating system. While this isn’t necessary, keeping your font consistent with the operating systems default font will likely simplify your experience. 

iOS’ default font is San Francisco, which is an elementary yet elegant font type. On the other hand, Android makes use of the Roboto font, which may look similar to iOS’ default font, but it has a few different elements such as taller letters and less spacing between letters.

Application Icons

One thing you will definitely notice when comparing the iOS and Android native UI is the icon for each application. Both of these well-known platforms have different guidelines for their applications to make them look native-friendly and appealing to the users. Designster has some excellent tips for engaging mobile apps designs to follow in 2020. 

For Apple’s OS, it is recommended to create an icon that is flat and displays real-like elements. The shape of the icons should also be similar; square with rounded corners. Android, however, does not have a native shape to its application’s icons. 

Instead, Android makes more use of colors and shadows inside the icon. Many people consider iOS applications to have a simpler yet minimalistic icon design. Still, developers prefer Android’s guidelines as they do not have to stick to a certain shape to create their icon. They are provided with a transparent background in which they can create the icon in any shape they desire!

Undo Patterns

If you are developing an application that consists of a lot of typing or a lot of actions to be made, which can be reversible, paying attention to the undo patterns in both operating systems is highly recommended. In iOS, users have the option to shake their Apple device to undo a certain action, such as eliminating a previous word you typed or cancel something you were searching for. 

Android is not as sophisticated as Apple in this matter. Instead, Android has alerts that pop up every time the user makes any action in the application. Android does this by using a “snack bar,” which essentially lets you know that the changes you made in the application were saved and are reversible. 

Navigation Patterns

Since we are talking about patterns, let’s talk about one of the biggest differences between iOS and Android UIs; Navigation patterns! 

Anyone can instantly notice the difference in the navigation pattern since most android-operating devices have 3 buttons that help in navigation. In contrast, Apple’s iOS devices have one on devices that were released before 2017. After 2017, Apple implemented a screen with only a “notch” and no home button.

Android devices normally have 3 buttons, which are coded to either go back to the home screen (home button), go back to the previous page (back button), and a multi-tasking or options button depending on the mobile manufacturer. 

These Android devices normally have these 3 buttons built virtually, so they are accessible by tapping on the screen while the Apple devices, before 2017, have had one physical home button. 

The home button is one of the most important things to take into consideration when designing an application, as the navigation of your application should be consistent with the home button on the device.

In-App Navigation

Navigation patterns using the home screens were about navigating through the whole system, but what about its applications?

In iOS, to go back to your previous page, you would swipe in a left-to-right gesture, whereas doing that on an android will help you navigate through the in-app tabs instead. 

Android users will have to use the virtual back button to go to their previous page. iOS applications include the same tabs, but instead swiping through to get to the tab you desire, you only have to tap on that tab to get to it.

If you choose not to implement a “left-to-right gesture,” you can have a CTA button named “back” which users can tap to quickly reach the previous page, which is a button included in default iOS applications such as settings. 

Search Behavior

The search feature is yet another small but important difference between the native Android and iOS applications. 

The search bar in both appears similar to a search icon that can expand into the search bar. However, in Android, search behavior is much different compared to iOS. 

In some iOS default applications, such as Settings, the search bar can be called upon swiping down from the top of the page, which is a feature not available on Android applications. 

The “cancel” feature is different as well, with Android having an “x” button and iOS having a “cancel” button. 

Android applications typically have a full search bar located on the top without needing to tap on a search icon or swiping from top to bottom, which is something app developers should keep in mind when designing a native Android application for consistency. 

iOS applications, on the other hand, have a fully dedicated search tab on the navigation tab at the bottom, which is easily accessible.

Developing an App on iOS or Android

Consult any top iOS app development company and they’ll educate you on how both platforms have striking similarities and just as many differences.

It is important to note that making an application the exact same on both platforms is feasible, but not recommended as they do have some major differences, especially in the navigation area.

Consistency is key when it comes to designing native applications on Android or iOS!

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