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Designing Tab and Menu Icons for Android

When developing mobile apps or drawing graphics for mobile apps, one must conform to srict guidelines. Using images designed for other 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.

Making Standard Tab and Menu Icons for Android Description: When designing Android apps or drawing graphics for mobile apps, it is essential to conform to certain guidelines. Re-using graphics made for different systems, especially desktop-based, is not a good idea. Foreign icons will look out of place at best, or will render your Android apps appear hardly recognizable at worst. Body: There are precise guidelines available in reference to Android icons. Different design guidelines are available for tab icons and menu graphics.

Android Icons for Navigation Toolbars

Tab icons represent individual tabs in tabbed interface. Tab icons must be supplied in two distinct states: selected and unselected. It is recommended that tab icons are created as simple, flat shapes as opposed to graphics drawn in 3D or isometric projection.

Android OS and Android apps are used on a variety of hardware platforms employing a wide range of hardware. In connection to icon graphics, those platforms can have different screen sizes, display resolutions, pixel density and dimensions. To accommodate the variety of screens, Android developers must supply all tab icons used in their apps in at least three resolutions to be shown on low, medium, and high density screens. Resolution-wise, the outer boundaries for the three resolutions 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 display properly on a variety of platforms running the Android OS.

Menu icons are drawn in the "options" menu, and are displayed 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 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 larger depending on whether they are square-shaped or not. If a menu icon is square-shaped, its resolution should be smaller than for icons shaped otherwise. The reason for specifying two different sizes 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 should be 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 rectangles respectively.

Instead of drawing your own images conforming to these guidelines, Android developers have an option of ordering ready-made images from professional designers. For example, Android Tab Icons by Aha-Soft offer 112 unique tab icons in selected and unselected states and all standard resolutions. Should additional resolutions be required, developers can produce images at any resolution by accessing 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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