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Making Standard Tab and Menu Icons for Android

When developing mobile apps or designing graphics for Android apps, one must conform to certain guidelines. Using images designed for different systems, especially desktop-based, is generally not a good idea. Foreign graphics will look weird at best, or will make your Android apps appear hardly recognizable at worst.

Making Standard Tab and Menu Icons for Android Apps Description: When developing Android apps or drawing graphics for Android apps, it is essential to follow certain guidelines. Re-using icons designed for other systems, especially desktop-based, is not a good idea. Foreign icons will look weird at best, or will render your Android apps appear hardly recognizable at worst. Body: There exist strict guidelines published in reference to Android icons. Different design guidelines are published for tab icons and menu icons.

Android Icons for Navigation Toolbars

Tab icons are drawn in individual tabs in tabbed interface. Tab icons should be supplied in two different states: unselected and selected. It is recommended that tab icons are created as simple, flat shapes as opposed to icons drawn in 3D or isometric projection.

Android OS and Android apps can run on a wide range of hardware platforms using a wide range of hardware. In connection to icon images, those devices can have different screen sizes, display resolutions, pixel density and dimensions. To accommodate the variety of screens, Android developers should supply all tab icons used in their apps in at least three resolutions to be drawn on low, medium, and high density displays. Resolution-wise, the outer boundaries for the three sizes are defined as 24x24, 32x32, and 48x48 pixels. Inner dimensions should not exceed 22x22, 28x28, and 42x42 pixels respectively. By providing all three standard sizes, developers can ensure that their apps will be shown properly on a wide range of devices running the Android OS.

Menu icons are used in the "options" menu, and are shown to the user when they press the Menu button. Similar to tab icons, menu icons are specified as flat, grayscale images. Like tab icons, developers cannot use 3D or isometric projections.

Screen sizes for menu icons are defined in a slightly more complex way as opposed to to tab icons. Instead of two resolutions defined for tab graphics (inner shape and boundary box), the inner shape of menu icons can be smaller or larger depending on their shape. If a menu icon is square-shaped, its size should be smaller than for icons shaped otherwise. The reason for having two different sizes is to establish a consistent visual size across the two icon types.

The outer dimensions for ldpi, mdpi and hdpi icons are defined as 36x36, 48x48, and 72x72 pixels respectively. Inner shapes for square, low-definition icons is 22x22 pixels, while non-square icons should fit into a boundary box sized 24x24 dots. Similarly, mdpi icons should fit 30x30 and 32x32 pixel boundaries, while high-definition images should fit into 44x44 and 48x48 pixel boundaries respectively.

Instead of drawing your own icons conforming to these guidelines, Android developers have an option of getting stock images from professional designers. For example, Android Tab Icons by Aha-Soft include 112 unique tab icons in selected and unselected states and all three standard resolutions. Should additional resolutions be required, developers can render images at any size by opening scalable vector sources. Android Tab Icons can be previewed and downloaded at http://www.aha-soft.com/stock-icons/android-tab-icons.htm.

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