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How to convert user interface from iOS to Android?

Have you developed a successful iOS app for your business, but now want access to all those Android users?

Part of the conversion process from iOs to Android will involve the migrating the user interface. Even if you are not someone who has used both systems before, a quick glance is all you will need to recognize the user interfaces are quite different.

This means you will need to redesign your iOs to suit Android. However, don’t let this put you off.

If you are reading this, you are wondering how to convert the user interface from iOS to Android. Read on so we can show you how.

Contents

Why convert iOS interface to Android?
What is ’User interface‘ of a mobile app?
Why does a mobile UI matter?
iOS vs Android UI: The key differences
Consider designing for both platforms up front
Converting the iOS UI to Android for your strategic business app?

Why convert iOS interface to Android?

iOS and Android are the two most popular mobile operating systems (OS). Together, they commanded a totally dominating 99.9% market share of all smartphones as of Q2, 2018. However, as you no doubt know, iOS is for Apple devices only, whereas the vast majority of smartphone makers use Android.

Android has a far larger market share than iOs. As of Q2, 2018, Android had 88% global market share. In comparison, iOS had 11.9% market share. Read more about it in this Statista report.

While Apple users do spend more than their Android counterparts, it makes perfect sense for businesses who don’t already have one to launch an Android app.

What is ’User interface‘ of a mobile app?

The ’User interface‘ (UI) of a mobile app allows users operate and access the app’s features. An effective UI will allow users to easily use the app and all the in-built features of the device. Today’s mobile devices are predominantly smartphones and tablets that use touch-screens.

One example of a good mobile app UI, is one that makes it easy for the app users skip between features like camera, apps, and settings. Read more about it in “mobile UI (mobile user interface)”.

Why does a mobile UI matter?

Industry research from 2015 showed that 25% of users abandoned a mobile app after using it only once. This report found marked improvement by 2018, with this figure dropping to 21%. Read the full report in “21% of users abandon an app after one use”.

There are several reasons for users abandoning mobile apps, for e.g.:

  • Lack of functionality
  • Features that don‘t work
  • Too unstable

An ineffective UI is also a key reason why people abandon an app. Put simply, the mobile app UI presents the app and its features to users. A good UI will facilitate easy and effective user interactions. Design of the screen, buttons, etc. plays a key role in this process.

An effective mobile app user interface design will tick the following boxes:

  • Make it easy for users
  • Appealing visual design
  • Information is presented in a structure that makes sense
  • Easy app interaction

Read more about it in “Do you know the importance of UI/UX development?”. Cut any corners so far as the above points go, and your app will fail.

iOS vs Android UI: The key differences

The necessity to use developers to convert your UI from iOS to Android arises due to the inherent differences between these two platforms.

Differences between iOs UI and Android UI:

  • The two platforms have different UI design approaches. Android uses the “Material Design” approach, whereas Apple uses the “Human Interface Guidelines”. Both approaches emerged from “Flat Design”, however, in subsequent years, they diverged. You can get a clearer picture if you read “3 differences – Apple‘s HIG vs Google‘s Material Design standards”.
  • Android devices use 3 buttons, namely, “Back”, “Home”, and “Overview”. iOS has only the “Home” button, therefore, apps must have a built-in way of navigating back to the previous screen.
  • The navigation bar in Android is aligned to the left, whereas it‘s in the center in case of iOS.
  • Most Android apps use a drawer menu that provides a list of elements. On the other hand, iOS uses a tab bar. This makes the navigation very different.
  • “Floating Action Buttons” are often used in Android apps, to attract the attention of users to the most important action/feature. It’s different in iOS, which uses a “Call To Action” (CTA) button in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Typography is different in Android vs iOS.

Read more about these differences in “How to convert iOS app to Android app?”.

Consider designing for both platforms up front

If your project budget and business plan permits, then I would recommend that you plan to design your app for both platforms from the very beginning! The advantages to this are as follows:

  • Even if you you create/launch the iOS app first, you will have designed your UI with Android in mind.
  • Your planning will give you a good idea for what your UI should look like on both devices.
  • When the time comes to design, build, and launch the Android app, you will not find surprises about UI design.
  • Given that you can get the same designers to create both UIs, developing an app for both platforms simultaneously can save you time and money.

Planning to develop both from the start makes sense due to the numerous differences between the “Material Design” and “Flat Design”. Read about these differences in “Flat design vs material design, what‘s the difference?”.

How can you convert an iOS interface to Android?

  • Get a team experienced in converting iOS UI to Android together
  • Get your team up to speed with Android UI design guidelines
  • Find the best Android UI design tools
  • Start by designing the mobile navigation menu
  • Pick the best color scheme
  • Design icons for your Android UI
  • Stick to Android standards for typography, button styles, drop-down buttons, etc.
  • Ensure your project success by using the “Scrum” technique

Converting your user interface design from iOS to Android can be tricky. For all practical purposes, Your mindset should be that your team is about to create a UI for Android from scratch. As with all development, you need to execute a series of well-thought-out steps.

Step #1: Onboard a team to convert iOS UI to Android

You need to induct a team with the following skills:

  • Android UI/UX designers
  • Android developers, since you will ultimately convert your iOS app to Android
  • Testers
  • A project manager (PM)

Since you are developing a mobile app UI, you might want to use “Agile” methodology over “Waterfall”. Onboard a PM with good knowledge of project management best practices. I also assume that you are already using a reputed ’Mobile Backend as a Service‘ (MBaaS) provider, therefore, you shouldn’t need to onboarding mobile backend developers.

Step #2: Familiarize your team with Android UI design guidelines

For the next step, you need to make sure your team knows the relevant Android UI design guidelines. The team should know both “Material Design” guidelines, and “App Quality” guidelines.

Focus on the following aspects of the material design guidelines:

The team should review the following app quality guidelines:

Step #3: Use the right Android UI design tools

This is an involved project, however, using good UI design tools can make it a bit simpler. Consider using an effective Android UI design tool. There are quite a few options, for e.g.:

  • Origami Studio: It allows the creation of prototypes, moreover, you can reuse components. Designers can create interactions, and preview their designs live.
  • Flinto: Designers can create prototypes of their designs. This tool allows the creation of animated transitions, moreover, it offers good drawing tools. It offers several other features, and is easy to learn.

Step #4: Design the mobile navigation menu

An important part of switching your UI from iOS to Android is the design of the mobile navigation menu. The design will depend on your app’s features. Consider the following patterns:

  • “Hamburger menu”, which allows you to put the most important feature up front
  • Tab bar, suitable if you have several features of equal importance
  • The “Priority +” menu, to prioritize the screen space for high-priority content
  • “Floating Action Button” (FAB), for really important actions that users can take with respect to your app
  • Full-screen navigation, which works well for task-based apps
  • Gesture-based navigation for use cases where users‘ gestures carry a lot of significance

Read our guide “Mobile navigation menu examples” for more insights.

Step #5: Use a suitable color scheme

You should align your mobile app UI color scheme with your branding style. Keeping this in mind, you can explore some popular trends in mobile app color schemes. These are as follows:

  • Minimal color usage with focused palettes: Designers that don‘t want to overuse colors can consider this.
  • High-contrast colors, when you need to attract users’ attention to the CTA button or other important content.
  • Subtle colored shadows, which allows good options to make your UI design stand out.
  • Bright colored iconography, useful when the app has several icons.
  • Pastel, and muted colors for apps where bright colors are not suitable.
  • Limit to black, white, and grey for apps with a limited amount of content and very few CTA buttons.
  • High-contrast, complimentary gradients for apps with a focus on images.
  • Colorful illustrations for apps that require users to understand workflow.

Consult our guide “8 trends in mobile app color scheme” for more information.

Step #6: Design icons for the new Android UI

For the ease of users, you will likely choose to use icons in your Android app UI. Due to the difference in design guidelines, icons suitable for iOS may not be suitable for an Android UI.

Design your icons keeping the following best practices in mind:

  • First of all, set some design rules, and follow them. If you don‘t use some self-imposed constraints, you will take too many liberties, resulting in a design that can confuse your users.
  • Design universally recognizable icons.
  • Settle for icons that users can easily memorize.
  • Study how your competitors have designed the icons.
  • Invest in right design tools.
  • Keep the design simple.
  • Design icons that look good irrespective of their size.
  • Keep the icons consistent with the overall UI/UX design.
  • Use good checklists like “UXMISFIT” to avoid common icon design pitfalls.
  • Test to see if the icons look good against multiple different backgrounds.
  • People have strong associations with existing icons, for e.g., the envelope for email apps. Design your icons with these factors in mind.
  • Icons with other functionalities should look different from unrelated ones.
  • Mobile app UI design has to contend with screen-space limitations. Icons are no different. Use a limited number of symbols when you design your icons.

You can check out our guide “How to design the perfect icon for your mobile app?” for more details.

Step #7: Follow Android standards for typography, button styles, dropdown buttons, etc.

During this project, you need to remember that certain elements vary greatly between iOS and Android. You need to make your design Android-specific. Examples of some of these variations are as follows:

  • From the typography standpoint, Android uses “Roboto” as the system font family. Your developers need to use this.
  • Touch targets for Android use different dimensions from iOS.
  • “Material Design” used in Android gives more options for styling the buttons when compared with the “Flat Design” of iOS.
  • Unlike iOS, you can use drop-down buttons in your Android UI. You can use this as an advantage since you can now do more within the same screen.
  • Alert buttons in Android are on the bottom right-hand side of the alert pop-up box, something which you need to keep in mind when designing the UI.

Read about these additional guidelines in “A tale of two platforms: designing for both Android and iOS”.

Step #8: Manage your project using the “Scrum” technique

After finalizing the design of Android UI, you can begin to convert the entire iOS app to Android. This is where our guide on converting iOs apps to Android can help.

Once again, I recommend you manage the entire project using the “Scrum” technique. It‘s a proven technique for Agile projects, where iterations are called “Sprints”.

A “Scrum team” is a cross-functional team where designers, developers, testers, etc. work together. The project manager or PM leads the team as the “Scrum master”. The product owner provides the requirements in a document called the “Product backlog”. The team estimates the requirements, and slots them into sprints according to their priority, during the sprint planning meeting.

During the execution of the sprint, the team conducts a “Daily stand-up meeting” to discussed project status. Project stakeholders review the demonstrable features in a “Sprint review meeting”, and approve the sprint only after all the features are complete and working.

There is also a session on the lessons-learned after the sprint ends, which is called “Sprint retrospective meeting”. Read our guide “How to build a Scrum development team?” to understand this in more details.

Converting the iOS UI to Android for your strategic business app

The conversion of the user interface is a critical piece in your move from iOS to Android. If you are doing this project for any monetized or business app, then you can‘t take chances. Therefore, you should always have a skilled team that includes competent end-to-end project management.

Onboarding highly-skilled UX/UI designers can be hard since these skills are in high demand. Such projects call for professional help, therefore, consider engaging a development partner.

Use our guide “How to find the best software development company?” to ensure you get the right one. Best of luck!