Top 7 Differences Between Designing Native iOs Apps And Android Apps

In the mobile operating systems industry, Android and IOS account for over 96.99% of the global market share. There are several apps in equal demand on both platforms; this means developers must design parallel versions of their apps for both sets of users. This strategy is essential because their manufacturers have so made it that users of their respective brands enjoy an enhanced experience, respectively.

If you’re a developer, especially, you need to know the key differences between IOS and Android’s native app design and native mobile design. This way, you can build more solid, functional, and user-friendly apps across both platforms effortlessly.

The facts that will be highlighted in this post are vital observations and NOT strict “principles.” Apple and Google each reserve the right to make contradictions or any impromptu changes to their products whenever they wish.

That being said, the facts presented in this post are mainly to help developers translate “Android thinking” to “IOS thinking” and vice versa, effortlessly. They can be immensely beneficial, especially for designing more user-friendly apps on both platforms since they follow both Android and IOS app design guidelines carefully. You can also incorporate the expert services of Pick The Writer  to develop quality content for your IOS or Android projects. Meanwhile, this post can also be immensely useful to the curious observer and other persons of interest.

In this overview, we will discuss a majority of the key differences between IOS and Android design, including:

  • A rundown of their characteristic differences
  • App Icons
  • Navigation
  • In-app Tab Placement
  • Controls
  • Typography
  • Selection Controls
  • Other relevant platform standards

The Primary Differences Between IOS vs. Android Design

Below is a lineup of a majority of the most vital UX/UI design differences between Android and IOS. This rundown will be Immensely useful for translating Android thinking to IOS thinking.

  Primary App Navigation  Tabs at the top of the screen  Bottom navigation
  Other App Navigation  Bottom navigation OR “hamburger button” style side menu  Bottom navigation “More” OR on-page UI
    Minimum size of tap target    48×48 device-independent pixels    44×44 points
  Main button/action  Floating action button  Top navigation, Right side
  Secondary actions  Top navigation, Right side  On-page UI
  Single-choice lists  Radio button list  List (with a checkmark for the selected item)

Top 7 Differences Between Android and IOS Design

1. App Icons

Icons offer mobile apps their distinct identity for easy recognition amongst other applications. Android and IOS design standards each have their own unique features. These characteristics give their native app icons their individually distinct looks.

IOS native app icon design typically features square-shaped icons with rounded-off corners. Apple native icons look to enhance transparency and clarity; hence, flattened images are used for IOS icons to avoid distortion.

Android native development, on the other hand, offers developers the liberty to leverage a vast range of colors and paper shadows. This liberty gives Android developers the ability to make app icons with a transparent background. Also, because of this, Android app icons are not limited to a square-shaped design. They can take any shape.

2. Navigation

Differences in navigation patterns are another critical point of note between Android and IOS design.

Typically, native Android apps incorporate the native Android Navigation Bar. The navigation bar features a back button, home button, and app refresh button; this enables a smoother user experience, especially with going back, minimizing, or exiting the app.

Unlike Android, native IOS apps do not integrate any built-in navigation bar. Instead, you would find a screen-specific back button at the top corner of the screen. Besides that, you can also go back through a right swipe gesture, or go to the home screen through the home gesture.

3. In-app Tab Placement

Tab placement is another feature that gives individual distinctions to both Android and IOS UX/UI design.

In native Android apps, you will generally find the tab placed on the top left corner of the screen within an accessible drawer. This tab allows the user exclusive access to all the options of the app quickly.

In native IOS apps, you will generally find the tabs placed at the bottom – hardly will you ever find it at the top. There are no app drawers, and the tabs are usually visible from the open app screen.

4. Control Design

IOS often features the primary button on the upper right of the screen, whereas Android features theirs on the bottom right as a floating action button.

Occasionally, IOS may display crucial page actions at the bottom toolbar. Though it looks very similar to a tab bar, Apple stresses that it really is different from one.

Similarly, on Android, other crucial actions that are relevant to the current page would often appear right at the top of the current screen.

5. Typography

One other major distinguishing characteristic between Android and IOS is their typography, especially with their default fonts. Meanwhile, it is not obligatory for developers to design their apps in the default OS font. However, it is still good to know what the system fonts are, as such knowledge can be beneficial if you need certain parts of your app to imitate the native UX/UI style.

The default font for IOS is the SF (San Francisco) font. This font array features a compact styled font, specially designed for legibility even when rendered at small sizes.

The Android system’s default font is the Roboto font. This font style is quite similar to the ‘San Francisco’ when you consider legibility. However, it features taller letterforms and some extra breathing room compared to the SF font array.

6. IOS vs. Android Action Menus

Action menus are another characteristic feature of both the Android and IOS platforms. They are useful for performing a wide range of crucial navigation and operational functions.

On IOS, action menus can be triggered by any button. Also, an attempt to take any action is capable of triggering an action menu. The typical way to trigger the action menu on IOS is by sliding up from the bottom of the screen, where users can find it within easy thumbs reach.

On Android systems, the action menu can be triggered by accessing the kebab menu, which is usually a three-dot icon at the top right of the screen (depending on the app in use).

7. Selection Controls

While the search utility is an essential characteristic feature on both Android and IOS, both platforms have made its control very flexible.

In some apps, the search tool is the primary feature of the application, whereas, in others, it is merely an edge-use tool. In some other cases, it takes both formats or falls between the two. The similarity between both platforms is how they each allow for flexibility, and the difference is how?

Let’s take a look at an array of some of the most common paradigms.

On IOS, you can cancel Search Mode if you press the ‘Cancel’ button. If there is an existing query, you can clear it by pressing ‘X.’

On the Android system, you can cancel Search Mode if you press the back arrow. If the search box has any existing query, you can clear it by pressing ‘X.’

Depending on the app in use, when Search is a crucial functionality, the search bar is displayed right away on both IOS and Android platforms. Tapping on the search bar will initiate a separate window on the screen.

When the search utility is not a crucial function, you can access it across flexible locations on the screen (usually highlighted as an edge-use tool) depending on the app in use.


There are exceptions; however, a majority of both IOS and Android apps like Instagram, Gmail, etc. follow Human Interface Guidelines as well as Material Design Guidelines. The apparent fact, nonetheless, is that incorporating the native components of their operating systems when designing mobile applications makes for a smoother experience and a more standard and user-friendly app.

Thus, it is better to invest more time in design thinking. This way, you’ll evade designing an app that produces an uneven mix of both IOS design standards (Human Interface Guidelines) and Android’s Material Design elements and guidelines. You can also incorporate the expert services of the Writing Judge  to develop quality content for your IOS and Android projects.

About Author

Jamie Fry – Purposeful and promising author. Confidently goes to his goal. He has a talent for writing original content. The main conviction in his life: «To be the best in the field in which you are developing». Always in search of fresh ideas.