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Producing Tab and Menu Icons for Android

When developing Android apps or drawing graphics for mobile apps, one must conform to certain guidelines. Re-using icons made for other operating systems, especially desktop-based, is generally not a good idea. Foreign graphics will look weird at best, or will render your Android apps appear hardly recognizable at worst.

Making Tab and Menu Icons for Android Apps Description: When developing mobile apps or drawing graphics for Android apps, it is essential to follow certain guidelines. Re-using icons designed for different operating systems, especially desktop-based, is generally not a good idea. Foreign images will look out of place at best, or will make your Android apps hardly recognizable at worst. Body: There exist precise guidelines published for designing standard-compliant Android icons. Different design guidelines are available for tab icons and menu images.

Android Icons for Navigation Toolbars

Tab icons represent individual tabs in tabbed UI. Tab icons must be provided in two different states: unselected and selected. It is required that tab icons are designed as simple, flat shapes as opposed to graphics shown in 3D or isometric projection.

Android OS and Android apps are used on a multitude of different platforms employing a wide range of hardware. In reference to icon graphics, those platforms can have different screen sizes, screen resolutions, pixel density and dimensions. To accommodate the wide range of displays, Android developers must provide all tab icons used in their apps in at least three resolutions to be displayed on low, medium, and high density screens. Pixel-wise, the outer boundaries for the three sizes are defined as 24x24, 32x32, and 48x48 pixels. Inner dimensions should not exceed 22x22, 28x28, and 42x42 pixels respectively. By including all three standard resolutions, designers can ensure that their apps will be shown properly on a wide range of platforms running the Android OS.

Menu icons are displayed in the "options" menu, and are shown to the user when they press the Menu button. Similar to tab icons, menu icons should be flat, greyscale images. Just as tab icons, developers cannot use 3D or isometric projections.

Screen resolutions for menu icons are defined in a slightly more complex way compared to tab icons. Instead of just two resolutions described for tab icons (inner shape and boundary box), the inner shape of menu icons can be smaller or bigger depending on whether they are square-shaped or not. If a menu icon is square-shaped, its resolution should be smaller than for icons with different shapes. The reason for having two different size limits is to establish a consistent visual size across the two icon types.

The outer dimensions for low, medium, and high resolution icons are described as 36x36, 48x48, and 72x72 pixels respectively. Inner shapes for square, low-definition icons is 22x22 pixels, while non-square icons should fit into a boundary box sized 24x24 pixels. Similarly, medium-definition icons should fit 30x30 and 32x32 pixel boxes, while high-definition images should fit into 44x44 and 48x48 pixel boxes respectively.

Instead of drawing your own icons conforming to these guidelines, Android developers have an option of obtaining ready-made icons from professional designers. As an example, Android Tab Icons by Aha-Soft include 112 unique tab icons in both states and all standard sizes. Should additional resolutions be required, developers can render images at any size by opening scalable vector sources. Android Tab Icons can be previewed and downloaded at http://www.aha-soft.com/stock-icons/android-tab-icons.htm.

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