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UX design for iOS vs Android: understanding the key differences

Apple and Google have both established standards for their design language and the ways their systems operate. Take a moment to read this article to get a better understanding of these basics.

8 February, 2023
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Within the world of mobile devices, two operating systems are the dominant forces that drive the widespread adoption of applications—iOS and Android. Even if you know the guidelines for mobile UI design and are an expert at UX design and UX writing, there are differences between the two operating systems that any designer needs to be aware of prior to beginning the development of either kind of application.

Android versus iOS design: key differences

Apple and Google have both established standards to their design language and the ways their systems operate. If you run into any issues with designing an app for either system, a UI/UX design studio like Merge can help–but knowing these basics is important.

Material design and human interface design

The flat interface design, otherwise referred to as the ‘human interface design,’ is based on three rules—clarity, deference, and depth. In other words, the approach is minimalist and aims to use crisp elements while focusing on typography and flat colors.

In iOS, the design rules are known as ‘flat design.’ Apple utilizes flat design to provide less shadowing, which enables numerous elements to be visible and provide a layered approach to the design.

Android, on the other hand, utilizes ‘material design,’ which features shadows and motion which make elements easier to spot and navigate. Material design is a design language that Google developed as a part of their brand identity. You’re probably fully aware of elements using this design language.

Android material design components are considered to be enhanced versions of flat design. They focus on grid-based layout, responsive design, and depth effects to convey user actions.

Design for iOS vs Android
Design for iOS vs Android

The navigation process

iOS applications always have the menu of the previous tab on the top-left corner of the screen, next to the back button. In the middle, there is the name of the current tab, and the right corner likely features an ‘Edit’ or ‘Done’ button.

Android applications display a title on the top-left corner of a screen next to a hamburger menu or a back button. As we move to the top-right, there will be an action item, such as a search icon, followed by an overflow menu.

Buttons compared

The main difference between Android and iOS app design for the button style is the fact that on iOS, apps follow a flat design pattern and support the title case. The Android app design, on the other hand, follows material design and, as such, possesses uppercase buttons that are styled with shadows.

Icon sizes and typography

Both of the styles utilize an eight-DP grid as a means of building the structure of the screen. The margins are commonly at sixteen DP.

As for the typography, Apple utilized the Helvetica Neue font before it shifted to San Francisco as a font in 2015. Android uses the Roboto font as the standard system interface font.

Control design

The search functionality is extremely important for each platform. In the case of iOS, there are two types of search options: one that is prominent and one that is hidden. The search icon is displayed on the upper left tab, and sometimes users need to drag the screen from top to bottom to reveal it.

In Android, there aren’t any hidden search bars—it's always visible on the upper tab.

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In conclusion

There is a lot more that goes into the UX design of iOS and Android applications, and the differences between the systems and their ideologies has established how their operating systems look, feel, and operate. The UI design on both platforms has, as a result of this, become symbolic of the brand.

When anyone aims to design a native application for each operating system, they have to adhere to the system’s guidelines, rendering the application synchronized with the platform it is meant to target. UX/UI design experts at Merge are ready to help you do just that!

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My mission is to help startups build software, experiment with new features, and bring their product vision to life.

My mission is to help startups build software, experiment with new features, and bring their product vision to life.

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