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Where to put commonly used actions on the screen in Android app with 4 tabs? Every tab has different actions. I don't want to put them into the standard Android options menu, because from my experience many users are "blind" to the hidden options menu.

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When you say "common actions", are you meaning commonly used actions or actions common to multiple tabs? More specifics would be very helpful. –  Rain Apr 27 '11 at 17:42
    
Good point, I edited the quiestion. –  fhucho Apr 27 '11 at 18:03
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If the actions are related to an object within a list view (or a different object) you could use touch and hold. This would open an context menu. If the actions refer to the whole tab you have two choices. The option menu you don't want to use. At the same position (bottom of the screen) the mentioned actions could be displayed permanently. Only if that would leave you enough space for the content.

Both will fit into the menu design guidelines for Android. Tabs on top, actions on the bottom.

If you think about a free design you can also place buttons anywhere you like. If you have a consistent visual language for buttons/links that will work.

I think the best way would be using the common and learned way to hide the features in the option menu if they are used less frequent. If they are features that are used every minute or even more often it might be good to have them permanently visible.

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While the question does indicate you don't want to use the menu button, it is worth noting that many built-in Android Applications make heavy use of the menu button, so I wouldn't be too afraid of using it.

However, there are a few other common Android design patterns:

  • Put visible buttons within the page itself, you'll see this in the GMail application when composing or reading messages
  • Create a visible menu button in the app that brings up another screen, you'll see this in a lot of Android games
  • Add "long-press" context menus (This is less obvious and may not be ideal)
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Maybe you could consider using an Action Bar? http://www.androiduipatterns.com/p/android-ui-pattern-collection.html

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1) Under or above the tabs? 2) Tab title and Action Bar title would be the same? –  fhucho May 8 '11 at 17:52
    
1) Definitely above tabs. 2) Could you have a common title summing up the whole page in action bar? I'm not sure how action bar and tabs work together. I haven't really seen them used together anywhere else than youtube app. Some experimentation is definitely needed. –  Juhani May 8 '11 at 18:23
    
1) I see two problems: a) I think it would look ugly, definitely with the default tabs b) Every tab has a different set of actions. But the action icons are outside of the tabs, which is a little weird and illogical. 2) Yes, there's a common title - the name of my app. | I think that there's no really good solution for my question. On iOS, it would be easy. –  fhucho May 8 '11 at 21:08
    
I see your point fhucho. Please let us know if you find a good (and good looking) solution to this problem. I'm very interesting to hear. –  Juhani May 8 '11 at 22:28
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