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iPhone apps can have a tab bar at the bottom of the screen and the tabs can have badges such as Notifications (3) and Tasks (12). This is fine for the iPhone, but what should we do when we build the same app for Android phones? Android tells us to put our primary navigation in a drawer -- and that's fine in most cases, but not so good when you want users to always be aware of new notifications, tasks, etc.

I considered moving the tab bar to the top of the Android screen (like FaceBook), but that's not ideal for reasons I won't go into.

If I move the tabs into a drawer for Android phones, is there any way to alert users that new notifications, tasks, etc, exist? For example, I'd like to alert users about new stuff as soon as they navigate to the app. And I'd like to alert users about new stuff even if they're in a different part of the app. Is this possible? Could I use the status bar area to alert users?

  • You could use in-app push notifications. They look exactly like "real" push notifications, like those from Facebook or WhatsApp, but they don't require any network. Quite easy to set up and works like a charm. – Edwin Lambregts Jun 26 '15 at 9:20
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You really should use Androids notifications as Android uses will be familiar with getting their notifications this way.

Nielsen usability heuristics suggest that you follow:

"Consistency and standards; Users should not have to wonder whether different words, situations, or actions mean the same thing. Follow platform conventions."

  • Yeah, I thought about using Android's notifications, but I didn't want notifications from my app to be mixed with those from other apps. In this jumble, my notifications might get lost. – Brian1850 Jun 26 '15 at 18:29
  • That said, I'm not sure there's a better alternative. I'll mark your answer as accepted unless I hear a better solution. Thanks! – Brian1850 Jun 26 '15 at 18:31
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Android has default notifications called snackbar to show stuff like this. Here's the pattern visually: http://www.google.com/design/spec/components/snackbars-toasts.html#snackbars-toasts-usage and for the coders: https://developer.android.com/reference/android/support/design/widget/Snackbar.html

  • Good suggestion, but I really need a place where new stuff can accrue. So users can see that they have (n) notifications and (n) new tasks. – Brian1850 Jun 26 '15 at 18:27

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