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I am developing an application in Android with a map based UI. The main use of the app is on the water, in direct sunlight.

  1. Are there good guidelines/examples for developing such UI.
  2. Are there any built in features or things I can do, specifically in Google maps or other Android maps API, to make the UI better in sunlight conditions?
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    Good UI layout will remain the same whether it's in dark or light. The difference would be contrast of colors. Generally in lighter conditions, colors will appear more washed out and loose their contrast, so users make the screen lighter to help combat this. I would try going outside into bright sunlight with your phone and navigate a few different apps, see which one is easiest to read, and think about why it is. – Andrew Feb 11 '16 at 14:18
  • @Andrew this should be an answer, IMO – Midas Mar 24 '16 at 12:57
  • @Midas, the only reason I didn't make it an actual answer is because I didn't technically answer both questions, but I appreciate it :) – Andrew Mar 24 '16 at 13:02
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    @Andrew the second question is about implementation which is off-topic, so I wouldn't worry about it. – Midas Mar 31 '16 at 13:20
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Good UI layout will remain the same whether it's in dark or light.


Therefore, research into good UI practices will serve you well, regardless of the light you're in.
However, to help you out, the difference in how the user sees good UI in bright light would be in contrast of colors. Generally in lighter conditions, colors will appear more washed out and loose their contrast, so users typically make the screen lighter to help combat this.

I would try going outside into bright sunlight with your phone and navigate a few different apps, see which one is easiest to read, and think about why it is.

Update:
To specifically answer each question.

  1. Examples would be GPS like apps where the screen adapts to darkness and changes the background color from a white-ish to a dark-ish color. It is still important to realize that you do not want to change the layout of your UI based on your surroundings, as that is generally bad UI. A good article for all the other situations is over at Smashing Magazine (https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2012/12/creating-an-adaptive-system-to-enhance-ux/)
  2. That question does not belong in UX Stack Exchange, as it is more of a technical question that belongs on http://stackoverflow.com
  • Can your source this or at least elaborate? Whats the downside of having a UI that adapts to your sorroundings? – J_rgen Mar 31 '16 at 14:50
  • Elaborating would be expounding upon the basics of UI practices. But in general, the ideas is that UI that changes (read significant changes) can cause stumbling blocks to the end user. If I open the application one day when it's cloudy, and then open it again the next and it's sunny, and the application looks different, that provides a mental hiccup for the user. This is because the user now has to reevaluate the color scheme of the application (granted this doesn't take long, but it is noticeable). – Andrew Mar 31 '16 at 15:26
  • If you are used to seeing Starbucks with the green theme all your life, and then one day you walk around the mall and you're looking for it, but the color scheme was changed to red, it might take you a few moments to identify the coffee joint, because you have in your mind a picture of what you're used to, and you have to reevaluate what you know. So, in the end, good UI practices shouldn't change significantly for different lighting. Hues and contrasts could change slightly, but you don't want to go around changing entire color schemes. – Andrew Mar 31 '16 at 15:28
  • Thank you for the answer, but I cannot accept it for it is very broad. I need more specific help regarding Android Maps or better yet Google Maps – CaptainNemo Apr 1 '16 at 18:34
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    @me1982 Updated the response for you. You may or may not like the answer, but that's the way the cookie crumbles. Hope it can help you out on some level. – Andrew Jun 6 '16 at 17:12

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