I was recently commissioned to wireframe, prototype and GUI design an Android app. While I am highly experienced with UI/UX/GUI design for mobile iOS apps, I have very limited experience designing for Android, and I don't even own an Android-running device to perform tests.

1) Given my solid experience and know-how of designing for iOS, I am looking for a good walk-through covering all the critical points (and differences from iOS) one needs to know before designing for Android. In particular, delivery formats, size constraints, UI patterns, etc.

2) Given that I don't own an Android device, would it make sense to use online emulators or other software to run and test the app I'm designing for? If so, which emulators / online services would you recommend?


  • Can you narrow this post down to one specific question? This is a question and answer site, not a questions and answers one. We need individual questions in order to give a single answer. Otherwise this post is too broad to answer.
    – JonW
    Commented Oct 11, 2014 at 13:07
  • I think I did narrow it down to two very specific questions. If this wasn't clear: 1) Can anyone recommend a good tutorial for beginner Android design, covering the most important points? 2) Can anyone recommend an online emulator or other software for testing apps without actually owning an Android-running device? Commented Oct 11, 2014 at 13:57

2 Answers 2


Even though I am not sure whether your questions are entirely UX related, I've done a few Google searches and found the following information, to answer your first question:

1) This is all updated for Android 'L'.

Everything about metrics and keylines (sizes etc) http://www.google.com/design/spec/layout/metrics-and-keylines.html

Everything about principles (Android is designed as if it is 'paper') http://www.google.com/design/spec/layout/layout-principles.html

In this tutorial everything is explained from the start (so you could skip most since you know how to design for iOS), but have a look at the different screen sizes: http://developer.android.com/training/basics/supporting-devices/screens.html

It also has best practices (look at the menu on the left).

More about design principles: http://developer.android.com/design/get-started/principles.html

And to answer your second question:

2) Testing in an emulator is easy. Google is working on Android Studio (https://developer.android.com/sdk/installing/studio.html). It is in beta now but it works. You can test on various Android builds by just installing the SDK's (Android Studio helps you to do that). And it has an emulator build in, no need to own a device but do test it on one before putting it in the Android play store.

I hope this helps.


In my experience, reading the Android documentation is a good first step. Emulators work well but you really want to get comfortable with the design patterns and interactions from an OS level.

If you or your company have test devices I would suggest using an Android phone for a few weeks. I used Android for everything excepts calls/texts. You'll start to pick up on subtle differences between iOS and Android. ex: Use of UIAlerts vs Toasts vs Dialogs


For resources check out: google.com/design/spec & http://blog.mengto.com/how-to-design-for-android-devices/ and Medium articles.

Documentation for Android is ok but the best way to learn is to pair with a designer who has designed for Android before. Even if it's just to learn the differences between iOS and Android you'll learn a bunch.


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