What challenges are involved in designing for Android?
The world’s phones are primarily created by three major manufacturers: Apple, Android and Huawei.
Did you know that Android is the most popular mobile operating system across the world?
At sync., we want to make our app available to as many people as possible, but designing for each mobile type has different challenges. Let’s take a look at how we created the Android sync. app.
Android phones are incredibly varied, from tiny screens right up to giant flagship phones. Just last year, a Chinese original equipment manufacturer released a smartphone called the Royoles FlexPai which broke the laws of phone manufacturing with its screen bending capabilities, then Samsung and Huawei released their take on the foldable devices. Looking at this advance in technology, you begin to see why designing for Android is tricky as all these hugely varied devices have to be supported.
If you take a look at Apple’s iPhone designs over the years, they share a lot in common with each other – similar phone aesthetics, similar screen sizes across models and even different display technologies. The operating system (iOS) has kept its similarities across the entire family of phones. This makes designing and developing apps for the Apple Store more uniform when compared to their opposition.
Android, despite being based off of Google’s original operating system, has gone through significant changes over the years. Samsung, Google Pixel and HTC, for instance, have different implementations of security standards within the operating system as well as different icons and different ways of producing the image you see on display.
These tweaks in the operating system can require more time and attention to make sure the app is right across all models.
These are some of the few things that can take up a lot of developers and designers time:
Different screen sizes. Some range from a compact 5’ screen to a massive 6.9’ display, not to mention a variant in foldable technologies that will only add new dimensions to the way screen layouts are not only designed but programmed for apps.
Android fragmentation (responsive design). There are over 24,000 unique Android device brands, each one with a different version of of the Android operating system, which means a ‘one size fits all’ approach can be tricky.
Simple navigation. With the different varieties of screen sizes today, making sure applications can still be within the normal range of movement is another key point to design. For example, menu icons should be at the bottom of the screen, closest to the thumbs.
Read on to find out how we designed the sync. app..
With that in mind, how did we go about designing the sync. Android app?
Similarities. We wanted to maintain a similar journey for users across platforms, providing a uniform experience. We aimed to provide a similar feel when using the app on any device, so changing the mobile brand doesn’t change the app. Designers collaborated across the iOS and Android versions of the sync. app to maintain a consistent standard and feel for users.
Colour schemes. We put a lot of considerations into the colours to keep the app easy to use and appealing to look at. We tested the app for users with impaired vision using different colour contrasts and shades. We gave buttons and sliders a uniform use and colour scheme. To create menus, we looked at users and their typical journeys through the app. We studied the range of movement of hands and fingers to decide on icon placement, giving the sync. app a more natural feel.
Interactions. Android users have a lot of gestures that are used all the time, like long presses or swiping actions to access other menus. We looked at these features and implemented user-friendly feedback options to maintain consistency. We also considered battery life as certain physical feedback features could reduce overall battery life and decrease user interaction over time, so changing something like a vibration to a small animation would be better for everyone.
Collaboration. People from all over the company had a say in the design, from colours, placements, and perspectives. Each person is unique and people pick up and process information differently, so collaboration allows us to create an app that is suited to a wide range of people.
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