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We are trying to decide on the main navigation structure for our app.
I have read all there is about the disadvantages of the hamburger menu (aka side-menu, drawer).

The use of a visible navigation bar (instead of the hamburger menu) makes sense and it can fit our design since we don't many screens to navigate.

For iOS users we found some examples of the navigation bar, like this one in Whatsapp:

WhatsApp

It's quite a common pattern in iOS and it seems like iOS users are familiar with it, but the same can't be said about Android users. I could not find a single app that uses this kind of main icons navigation bar.

Is it bad practice for developing in Android to develop like this due to deprication? Can someone provide an example of a "top" app that uses it?

  • Don't just ask if there are apps that do this (there may be some really crappy ones that do, for instance, and what use would that really be to you?) Instead focus the question on whether or not you should do it. – JonW Mar 2 '15 at 13:45
  • Like I said in the question, we should use it, and it make sense for us. But I am afraid it will be awkward design for android users. – Yaron Levi Mar 2 '15 at 13:50
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    What about changing the question to something like "Does avoiding the hamburger menu on Android break a core platform UI pattern", or "What alternatives to the hamburger menu are appropriate on Android"? – Josef Engelfrost Mar 2 '15 at 14:53
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On Android this is also very common pattern but with few differences.

  • On Android you position this tabs on top of the screen (mainly because of hardware buttons on the bottom of the phone)

You can use scrollable or fixed tabs (for more info: http://developer.android.com/design/building-blocks/tabs.html)

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There's no many apps using them on Android because Google explicitly discourage on its design guidelines. Each platform has their own visual language, so I completely disagree with implementing this on Android.

More: http://developer.android.com/design/patterns/pure-android.html

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This is a very intuitive navigation and shouldn't be any issue. I can't give you any examples of top apps that are using this, but it doesn't mean that the user won't easily understand it. I'd suggest just going with your gut and doing what makes sense for you.

I'd also suggest doing user testing on your app in wire frames or limited functionality with even a small 5-10 person sample size on the android platform and give them the task you are seeking to validate -- it will become apparent really quickly if there is any hindrance.

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Look to future proof and understand the Google Material design guidance.

(TL;DR: icon buttons on top page for navigation is in line with the Material design )

Explicitly "Top-level view strategies section" in Material Design - UI regions and guidance section is very clear that you can

Use tabs to switch between a small number of equally important views.

and that left navigation drawer is optional

Use a navigation drawer if:

...

Secondly the guidance for tab components supports having icon only tabs, without a page title.

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Instagram actually uses this design pattern in their android app.

I would go back to the basics and understand what is best for your user.

Android and iOS users have different expectations when it comes to using apps based on muscle memory from common design patterns.

If something looks good in iOS it will most likely also look good in Android but that is not an excuse to use it and it might confuse users or in some cases be turned off it because they feel like it wasn't designed for their device and their needs (I have witnessed this personally)

I would highly recommend following the design libraries of both platforms. Make an iOS app feel like it was developed by Apple and make an Android app feel like it was developed by Google.

There are so many articles about design patterns that will contradict each other, with the hamburger menu being one of the most common. Material design from Android uses the hamburger menu and in my opinion use it wonderfully. Test your designs, let the users tell you want they want and take the advice from the people who spent years creating the design libraries.

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