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My new project is to port an iOS app to Android platform. Before get started, I'm quite confused on whether I should follow google's guideline since some big titles on Android platform still keep the same look as iOS version. Style here means the entire design of the app, such as app navigation, theme, and layout.

Please help if you have any suggestions!

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I hate when an app on my Android phone looks like an iOS thing. Sometimes it's enough to make me uninstall the app and look for an alternative, so be wary of alienating users this way. –  wim Apr 3 '13 at 0:11
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2 Answers

You should allways follow the style guide of the platform you're targeting. That way it'll be much easier for your users to understand how the app works. If you do the opposite you'll end up with unnecessary cognitive load on your Android users trying to figure out how your iOS-like app works.

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Exactly. The best practice is to follow the guidelines for the platform and device you develop it for. There are even some things hard to port (menus - dropping from upper right in newest Android and being a set of buttons sliding from below in iOS, back button - always in top left for iOS and on Android dealt with by the physical/onscreen button; do not misconsider the up button on Android as back). However, if you customize the app severely, then you may find it easier to make it look similar on both systems. But I suggest following guidelines anyway, it's more clear for the users. –  Dominik Oslizlo Apr 2 '13 at 6:54
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Thanks for your reply. I agree with you that following the guideline is essential for saving the cognitive load and keeping the eco-system. But will it be possible and worth to seek for a system-independent design considering that many users may change their phones from ios to android or vice versa? –  amy Apr 2 '13 at 7:05
    
@amy Yes indeed. Take a look at how the patterns of mobile web apps work and behave: mobile.tutsplus.com/category/tutorials/mobile-web-apps –  Benny Skogberg Apr 2 '13 at 7:09
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The vast majority of users only have one phone and switch plaforms rarely. They are much more familiar with their platform's way of doing things than your app on a platform that they do not use! So consistency across platforms is really a bit of a false goal. –  JamesRyan Apr 2 '13 at 9:59
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If you have the resources, you should follow the guidelines for whichever platform the app is on.

In the past many companies considered iOS to be 'the market' and only made Android apps as an afterthought. As a result, they often simply built an iOS app in Android to save them time and cost. This wasn't done because it was a better way of doing it, just a faster way.


As a side note, the Android operating system, and the associated Design Guidelines have evolved and improved massively over the last few years, whereas iOS has remained relatively unchanged. Android has become the better platform (in my opinion), and the largest (both in terms of users and in terms of revenue). So it is most definitely worth building a well designed Android app. In fact, Android is where most applications should begin, with iOS being the afterthought.

As a heavy Apple user, this is a grudging admission.

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> As a result, they often simply built an iOS app in Android to save them time and cost. As a side note, while this is true upfront the long term cost of straying far from the normal Android widgets ends up being much higher in my experience. Development time is increased mimicking the feel of a different platform, and maintaining those changes across Android versions is a large undertaking. Do the right thing, design for the users platform. –  powerj1984 Apr 2 '13 at 15:00
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@powerj1984 That is not always the case. It is very often faster to use the graphics assets that you already have and change their dimensions that rethink how it should work and create new assets for the other OS. I'm not saying it is better to do this, just explaining the reason why some companies do it. –  JohnGB Apr 2 '13 at 16:47
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