How to convert user interface from Android to iOS?

Given the massive advantage that Android has over iOS in terms of user numbers, it makes sense that most developers choose to prioritize developing their Android app first.

However, once an app has proven to be successful on Android, thoughts quickly turn to creating an iOS version too. If you are reading this article then it is likely you have found yourself in such a position and are wondering how to convert user interface from Android to iOS.

In this article, I will outline exactly how to covert your Android UI to iOS!

Contents

Reasons to convert the user interface from Android to iOS
The mobile app user interface, and its’ importance
Android vs iOS UI: the differences
Converting the UI from Android to iOS: Explained
Planning a large Android UI conversion to iOS?

Reasons to convert the user interface from Android to iOS

Android and iOS are the two mobile operating systems (OS) that dominate the market. Together, they commanded 99.9% market share as of Q2-2018. Android held 88% of the market whereas iOS had 11.9% market share during this period, as this Statista report shows.

At the time of writing, the smartphone market has entered a period of uncertainty due to flagging sales and geopolitical reasons like the US-China trade war. A Business Wire report noted a decline in smartphone sales during 2018. The good news is that it also expects growth to return in 2019.

These uncertainties in the market further stress the need to find new customers so that you are always growing. This alone is reason to convert your Android ‘user interface’ (UI) to iOS.

The mobile app user interface, and its’ importance

What is the ‘User Interface’ (UI) of a mobile app, and why does it matter?

More and more users are choosing mobile apps over mobile-responsive websites, as you can read in “Mobile app versus mobile website statistics”.

Download Our Project Specification Template

Mobile apps can use the native features of the device such as using notifications on smartphones to improve user engagement etc. Not surprisingly, mobile app downloads are increasing and are expected to reach 252.8 billion in 2022, as this Statista report shows.

As a business owner, you need to attract users to your app and make sure to retain their interest. You can’t leave this to chance! Mobile screens have limited space, and you have the challenging task of engaging your users despite this constraint.

Your mobile app UI presents the app to users. It is everything they see and interact with. Therefore, it is THE point of engagement with your users. Even the best app will not retain users if the UI is either unattractive or is difficult to use.

How do you know if a mobile app UI design is great? The following indicators matter:

  • The best mobile apps communicate their objective intuitively through their UI.
  • A good UI helps users navigate the app easily.
  • Users should find the UI familiar, it shouldn’t require much learning.
  • The UI should be attractive since the look and feel matter a lot in the competitive market of mobile apps. Remember: First Impressions really do count.

Read more about it in “The importance of investing in a good user interface in mobile app development”.

Android vs iOS UI: the differences

When you launch an iOS version of your Android app, switching the UI of your app from iOS to Android is imperative. This is due to the following reasons:

  • Navigation: Android devices have predominantly always used a combination of navigation drawers, tabs, and bottom navigation. These are evolving. On the other hand, iOS has consistently used bottom “tab bars”. Read more about it in “Android vs. iOS: compare 20 UI components & patterns (part 1)”.
  • App bars, vs. navigation bars: Android apps use “app bars” in their UI. These have the current screen name, action buttons, etc. iOS apps use navigation bars in their UI, which has the back icon and the name of the previous page.
  • Buttons: Your Android app can use three buttons, which are “Back”, “Home”, and “Overview”. When you move the UI from Android to iOS, you will be able to use only a “Home” button. You will need to address this aspect.
  • Handling secondary pages: In case of an Android app, the pages that appear on the lower level of the hierarchy can have “tabs” for them. This is different in iOS apps since the app will use “segmented controls”.
  • Button styles: Button styles vary between Android and iOS. Android apps mostly use “flat” and “raised” buttons. In comparison, iOS apps typically use normal buttons.
  • Texts on buttons: Buttons in the Android apps make use of uppercase texts. iOS apps aren’t consistent in this aspect, for e.g., designers can use title case or uppercase.
  • UI design approach: Android UI design uses the “Material Design” approach. This is in sharp contrast with iOS, which uses Apples’ “Human Interface Guidelines” (HIG). There are key differences in depth of UI elements, treatment of animations, and navigation. You can read about it in “3 differences – Apple’s HIG vs Google’s Material Design standards”.
  • “Floating Action Button” vs “Call To Action”: Smartphone users sometimes find it hard to reach the action bar when operating the phone with one hand only. The invention of “Floating Action Button” (FAB) was to assist users, moreover, it’s used for attracting users to the most important action. Android app UIs use this. iOS app UIs have a “Call To Action” (CTA) button instead.
  • Typography: Android and iOS have different typographies. iOS uses “San Francisco” as the system typeface, whereas, Android uses “Roboto”.
  • Touch target and grids: Guidelines for touch targets and grids vary between Android and iOS. Read more about this difference in “How to convert user interface from iOS to Android?”.
  • Handling image-based contents: Android uses “Grid Lists” for showing image-based contents. It’s different in the case of iOS, where app UI designers use “Collection View”.
  • Cards: Android design guidelines include cards for a significant period now, however, iOS doesn’t consider these as important.
  • Separating content: Android uses “Dividers” to separate content. On the other hand, iOS uses grouped tables and grey space in between those grouped tables to divide content. Read more about this in “Android vs. iOS: compare 20 UI components & patterns (part 2)”.

 

Converting the UI from Android to iOS: Explained

Switching the user interface design from Android to iOS is a development project that should not be taken lightly. I recommend you take the following steps:

Step #1: Prepare for, and plan your project

Good project planning and preparation are key. Focus on the following:

  • Manage stakeholder expectations. You will ultimately convert your entire Android app to an iOS app, and not just the UI. Appropriate budgetary commitment is important, therefore, you need a comprehensive project plan.
  • This is a mobile app development project. An iterative development methodology helps, therefore, I will recommend you use the “Agile” methodology. Learn more about it in “How to build an Agile development team?”.
  • Use an effective end-to-end project management tool. Asana is a good choice, however, our guide “The 10 best Agile project management tools in 2018” has more examples.

Step #2: Get a great team up and running!

You need people with the following skills in your team:

  • iOS UI/UX designers;
  • iOS developers;
  • Testers;
  • A project manager (PM).

Before outlining the remaining steps, I will assume the follows:

  • You are not introducing new features, therefore, you don’t need business analysts (BAs).
  • The Android app is already using a reputed ‘Mobile Backend as a Service’ (MBaaS) provider, consequently, you don’t need mobile backend developers. If you need to find a good MBaaS provider, read our guide “How to choose the best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)?”.

Step #3: Use effective iOS UI design tools

Using a modern UI designing tool can help. There are quite a few options, as follows:

Read How We Helped a Marketing Company to Build a Back-Office Custom Ads Dashboard

Adobe XD CC

Adobe XD CC has a wide range of features, as follows:

  • There are productivity aids to help you save time.
  • It’s easy to create a prototype from your design.
  • The tool is compatible with well-known tools like Adobe Photoshop.
  • You can view your designs on mobile devices.

There are comprehensive resources for learning the tool. Their starter pack is free, while the paid plans provide more powerful features.

Origami Studio

Origami Studio is a free tool, and available on Mac. The tool offers the following features:

  • You can create prototypes with layers.
  • There are pre-built materials and iOS components. It’s easy to create a library for your project, which will help in collaborative design.
  • Your design team can create interactions.
  • The tool offers a way to view the iterations live.

Your team can access a range of resources to learn the tool, as follows:

Step #4: Design the iOS UI following guidelines

You are essentially creating a new UI for iOS while incorporating the features and branding information of the Android app. Visit the “Design” page on the Apple developer portal. You can get valuable inputs, as follows:

  • How iOS design themes like clarity, deference, and depth work;
  • Using iOS design principles, like aesthetic integrity, consistency, user control, etc;
  • How your team can use interface essentials like bars, views, and controls;
  • Accessibility features;
  • Effective handling of the situation when the content is loading;
  • Helping users to remain focused on the key actions;
  • Handling navigation patterns like hierarchical, flat, etc.;
  • Best practices for onboarding new users;
  • Requesting permissions to access users’ personal data.

This is not an exhaustive list of areas where you can get inputs. Read more on the iOS “Human Interface Guidelines” page.

Step #5: Use design resources that Apple provides

Depending on which UI design tool you are using, you can get Apple UI design resources. For e.g., there are UI design resources for usage with Adobe XD CC, Photoshop, Sketch, etc. Access these resources here.

Step #6: Use iOS design best practices

To rank high in the “Apple App Store” and retain your app users, consider following the iOS UI design best practices. Focus on the following aspects:

  • Formatting content;
  • Touch controls;
  • Hit targets that users can accurately tap with their finger;
  • The right size of texts;
  • Contrast between the font color and the background;
  • The space between letters and lines;
  • Providing high-resolution images;
  • Alignment of texts, images, etc.

Read “UI design do’s and don’ts” for more information.

Step #7: Focus on the menu, icons, and colors

An effective UI design focuses adequately on the navigation menu, color schemes, and icons within the app. I recommend you consult the following resources:

Step #8: Convert your Android app to iOS

You will naturally need to follow the UI conversion with the actual app conversion. There are quite a few options for this, as follows:

Step #9: Manage your project using the “Scrum” technique

“Scrum” is a well-known technique to manage Agile projects. This technique supports iterative development, and the iterations are called “Sprints”. A scrum team is a cross-functional one, where developers, designers, and testers work together. The PM performs the role of a “Scrum master”.

The team works as follows:

  • You will use the features from your Android app, however, you need to document them in a “Product Backlog”.
  • The team estimates the features, prioritizes them and schedules them in sprints. They hold a “Sprint planning meeting” for this.
  • During the sprint, the scrum team holds a “Daily stand-up meeting” to discuss the project status.
  • When the features are ready, the project stakeholders approve the sprint in a “Sprint review meeting”.
  • There is a lessons-learned exercise called “Sprint retrospective meeting” after the sprint.

Read our guide “How to build a Scrum development team?” for more details.

Planning a large Android UI conversion to iOS?

If you are converting the Android UI of a complex app to iOS, you are going to have to undertake a  complex development project. I have recommended quite a few tools in this article, however, you can still expect to encounter numerous challenges, depending on the complexity of your app.

Therefore, you will need designers, developers, and PM with a high degree of experience and competency.

If you don’t have this experience, consider engaging a development partner, so that you can get professional help.

Our guide “How to find the best software development company?” will help you find the right developers for your project. Best of luck.

Download Our Project Specification Template

Aran Davies

Blockchain Expert | Developer | Writer | Photographer
Aran Davies

Latest posts by Aran Davies (see all)