The same app can be available for iOS and Android, but making sure the app looks, feels and functions correctly on both major platforms is a huge development and testing challenge. Android is famously more open in terms of its app standards while iOS has a specific set of guidelines that must be followed. This makes creating the same app for both platforms a bit challenging. To help you get your head around the issue, The Archer Group has put together a list of iOS and Android app design similarities and differences. It’s changed a bit as new devices (specifically the iPhone 5) have hit the market, but they are still good points to know. Here’s a peek at what you can find on the Archer blog:
- Application structure: The basic flow of information can be similar in both iOS and Android platforms. It’s rarely necessary to define completely unique information architecture for each platform.
- Expected functionality of basic UI components: Many UI components, including tabs, sliders, pickers, text fields, checkboxes, switches, and buttons, are very similar across both platforms. The design treatment and placement of the UI components varies between platforms, but their expected functionality is quite similar.
- Gestures: The most basic and common touch gesture controls used in applications are similar in both iOS and Android. The tap, drag, flick, swipe, double tap, and pinch gestures are typically used for similar actions across both platforms. The only gesture that has significantly different usage across platforms is the “tap and hold” gesture, which is much more commonly used in the Android platform to reveal a contextual menu of options or to enter a data selection mode.
- “Back” navigation: “Back” is a UI element in iOS applications, placed in the upper-left hand corner of the navigation bar that navigates backward only within defined screens in an application, never across the entire device. In Android devices, there can be two different “back” actions: “up” and “back”. “Up” was introduced primarily for Android 3.0+ devices without hardware keys and is a UI element represented as an icon on the left-hand side of the top action bar. “Up” navigates back within an application. Android “back”, in contrast, is a button on the physical device that goes back in history across the entire device.
- Tab navigation placement: Tab navigation is typically used to navigate through primary functions in an application. iOS tab navigation is represented through a tab bar at the bottom of the application. Android recommends that tabs be placed at the top of an application. In addition, by iOS standards, only 5 tabs can be displayed at a time. In Android, however, scrollable tabs can be used to display more tabs than can fit in the viewable screen width.
- Search: In iOS, the standard UI control for searching within an application is a search bar that is placed at the top of a searchable screen. In Android, several different search options are available. A “search dialog” component can be used that is similar to the iOS approach and places a search bar at the top of the screen. However, this bar is hidden until the user presses a search button within the user interface. An alternative search approach in Android 3.0+ is to use a “search widget” that allows search to be placed anywhere within the application interface, typically within the application’s action bar at the top of the screen.
See the full list of similarities and differences at The Archer Blog >>>