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Producing Tab and Menu Icons for Android Apps

When developing mobile apps or drawing graphics for Android apps, one must conform to srict guidelines. Re-using images made for different 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.

Designing Tab and Menu Icons for Android Description: When developing mobile apps or drawing graphics for Android apps, one must conform to srict guidelines. Using images designed for different systems, especially desktop-based, is not a good idea. Foreign graphics will look out of place at best, or will make your Android apps hardly recognizable at worst. Body: There are strict guidelines available for designing standard-compliant Android icons. Different design guidelines are published for tab icons and menu graphics.

Android Icons for Navigation Toolbars

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

Android OS and Android apps are used on a variety of hardware platforms using a wide range of hardware. In connection to icon images, those platforms can have different display sizes, screen resolutions, pixel dimensions and density. To accommodate the variety of displays, Android developers must supply all tab icons used in their apps in at least three resolutions to be drawn on low, medium, and high density screens. Resolution-wise, the outer boundaries for the three resolutions are defined as 24x24, 32x32, and 48x48 pixels. The size of the shape itself should not exceed 22x22, 28x28, and 42x42 pixels respectively. By providing all three standard sizes, designers can ensure that their apps will be shown properly on a wide range of devices running the Android OS.

Menu icons are drawn 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, grayscale images. Just as tab icons, developers cannot use 3D or isometric projections.

Screen sizes for menu icons are defined in a slightly more comprehensive way compared to tab icons. Instead of two sizes defined for tab graphics (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 specifying two different size limits is to establish a consistent visual weight 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, mdpi icons should fit 30x30 and 32x32 pixel boundaries, while high-definition images should fit into 44x44 and 48x48 pixel boundaries respectively.

Instead of designing your own graphics matching these guidelines, Android developers have an option of ordering stock icons from professional designers. As an example, Android Tab Icons by Aha-Soft include 112 unique tab icons in both states and all three standard resolutions. If an additional size is needed, developers can produce graphics at any size by opening scalable vector sources. Android Tab Icons can be viewed and downloaded at http://www.aha-soft.com/stock-icons/android-tab-icons.htm.

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