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Making Standard Tab and Menu Icons for Android Apps

When designing Android apps or drawing graphics for mobile apps, it is essential to conform to srict guidelines. Re-using icons made for other systems, especially desktop-based, is not a good idea. Foreign images will look weird at best, or will render your Android apps hardly recognizable at worst.

Designing Standard Tab and Menu Icons for Android Description: When developing mobile apps or drawing graphics for mobile apps, one must conform to srict guidelines. Re-using graphics made for other systems, especially desktop-based, is generally not a good idea. Foreign graphics will look out of place at best, or will render your Android apps appear hardly recognizable at worst. Body: There are precise guidelines published for designing standard-compliant Android icons. Different design guidelines are available for tab icons and menu icons.

Android Icons for Navigation Bars

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

Android OS and Android apps can run on a variety of different platforms employing a wide range of hardware. In connection to icon graphics, those platforms can have different screen sizes, display resolutions, pixel density and dimensions. To accommodate the variety of displays, Android developers must supply all tab icons used in their apps in at least three resolutions to be displayed on low, medium, and high density displays. Resolution-wise, the outer boundaries for the three resolutions are defined as 24x24, 32x32, and 48x48 pixels. The size of the shape itself should not exceed 22x22, 28x28, and 42x42 pixels respectively. By providing all three standard sizes, designers 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 users when they press the Menu button. Similar to tab icons, menu icons should be flat, grayscale images. Just as tab icons, developers cannot use 3D or isometric projections.

Screen resolutions for menu icons are defined in a slightly more complex way compared to tab icons. Instead of just two sizes defined for tab graphics (inner shape and boundary box), the inner shape of menu icons can be smaller or bigger depending on their shape. If a menu icon is square-shaped, its resolution should be smaller than for icons with different shapes. 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 described 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 pixels. Similarly, mdpi icons should fit 30x30 and 32x32 pixel boxes, while high-definition images should fit into 44x44 and 48x48 pixel boxes respectively.

Instead of drawing your own icons matching these guidelines, Android developers have an option of ordering ready-made graphics from professional designers. For example, Android Tab Icons by Aha-Soft include 112 unique tab images in selected and unselected states and all three standard resolutions. If an additional size is needed, developers can render icons 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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