Take Your Pick: Designing for Android vs. iOS


Companies need mobile apps for diverse reasons. They need to cater to existing clients and devices that are in use. This often means that there is a requirement for a new app for Android and iPhones. Both these platforms offer distinct experiences in terms of design and end usage. There are certain considerations, which the designers need to take note of when designing apps for Android or iPhone.

Android app development firms and iOS mobile app development firms take up the majority, over 70% of the market share and experience consistent growth. Companies cannot afford to ignore either of the two markets as they have a strong chance of losing a significant share of their audience.

In the initial phase of planning and research, designers need not worry about the platforms as both Android and iOS operating systems strive and aim towards covering similar functionalities with regard to interaction.

A designer might find designing for mobile a daunting task. There are certain UI patterns, which need to be adhered to; else, it becomes confusing for the end users.

A designer needs to study the key differences between both platforms and design an app that can work on both platforms without deviating from individual design patterns. We will try to make things easier with this blog post and help in addressing these concerns for a designer.

What is the difference between Android and iOS platform?

Android and iOS platform come with their own set of unique features and patterns. Designing for both these platforms requires understanding of such differences. Here are some common ones:

#1 Single Device vs. Multiple

Ever since its release, iOS is only available on iPhone or iPad. This was done by Apple to retain control of its software and user experience. It is good as it contributes to a consistent user experience; however, does not let any other devices innovate on it.

Contrariwise, Android can be installed on any device. Therefore, there are many devices with the Android operating system such as Samsung, Motorola, LG etc. This is good as manufacturers get control of the operating system and they can create enhanced user experiences. It can also be a disadvantage, as Android devices don’t always offer a cohesive user experience.

#2 Back Button vs. no Back Button

Certain Android devices have physical buttons on the devices for Home, Back and Overview whereas iPhone only has Home and Lock button. When designing for Android, designers should keep in mind when the user would click on the “back” button. Designer has to check out Android documentation for this and work out to make a better option for the back button – to make it digital or physical.

Further, when designing for the iOS platform, you need to put in serious thought into estimating how the user will get to the back screen. A common practice is to use the top left pointing arrow on the screen. Study examples to get a better grip.

#3 UI Patterns

Both Android and iOS platforms offer similar functionalities which are executed differently. Each of these have its unique way of standardizing views for lists, menu etc. These are known patterns, which the designer must keep in mind while preparing the wireframe. If we stray too far from, the familiar territory there is a solid risk of confusing the users.

Look up the design patterns of known and popular apps and observe the patterns and UI. The best ones always stick to conventions without compromising on the overall look and uniqueness.

Which Operating System is More Popular?

If we talk about the devices that majority of the people use, then Android can be called the clear winner. There are many contributing factors for it, which include device price, variety of options being available and several choices for device manufacturers. Worldwide, Apple has a market share of a meager 14% as compared to Android that enjoys a whopping 82% of the market.

Apple is a clear favorite in developed countries such as United States, Canada as well as UK. As a designer, one needs to be clear about the differences in design and UI for each platform.

Designing Two Versions

Designers often get confused between managing designs for two separate platforms. This can get difficult, as apps should feel similar and offer similar functionality without distorting any of the platform’s native designs.

There are several UI kits available for each of the platforms, which will give the users a starting point to build great designs. Designing for each of Android and iOS platforms can be challenge, designers need to think intuitively while following convention to attain success.