The design guideline for Android action bars is to left align the text or branding of the app, as opposed to center alignment in iOS.

Comparison of action bars in Android and iOS

Other than the fact that it increases familiarity with other Android apps and is a part of the guidelines, I'd like to know what led to Android using the pattern and what are it's merits? Is it an iterative improvement from an older guideline?

Guidelines for Action bar

Slide from Android Design in Action (Slide source: ADIA)

  • The only way you'll be able to get a definitive correct answer to this that's not just pure speculation (as this type of question tends to attract) is if someone references the Android Developers Design site which rather begs the question, have you not checked there already?
    – JonW
    Commented Jan 24, 2014 at 13:48
  • @JonW That's true. Was hoping to get an answer from the perspective of the major design changes Android went through Jellybean onwards. I've scoured the Design site, but the second image is the closest I got.
    – abhinavc
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 21:02

2 Answers 2


I've actually just dealt with this subject in a mobile-optimized web-app where the designers were too used to iOS and aligned the title in the center without considering alternatives.

One of the advantages of aligning the activity title on the left is mainly that it saves space. It creates a logical cut-off point if the title gets too long or if the screen gets too small. In Android, the rules are pretty simple: Cut it off if the title extends past the center of the screen. That leaves the entire right half for Action Bar buttons. (Further space is saved by consolidating the "Back"/"Up" button and the activity title).

Compare the title bars of Android that you provided with 4, 3, and 2 buttons to the iOS equivalents, which only have 2 each.

Are more buttons better? That's the real question.

  • Thank you for your answer! Provided me good insight for further thinking.
    – abhinavc
    Commented Feb 3, 2014 at 20:50
  • @DallonF can you point to some official documentation for reference. Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 10:57

Another possible reason I could think of is the nav drawer's interactions through the action bar.

Left aligning allows for a larger clickable area that is more likely to be noticed and interacted with.

Examples of small and bigger clickable area


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.