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Making Standard Tab and Menu Icons for Android

When developing Android apps or designing graphics for Android apps, one must conform to srict guidelines. Using images made for other operating systems, especially desktop-based, is not a good idea. Foreign graphics will look out of place at best, or will make 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, it is essential to conform to certain guidelines. Re-using images designed for different operating 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. 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 represent individual tabs in tabbed interface. Tab icons must be supplied in two distinct states: unselected and selected. It is recommended that tab icons are drawn as simple, flat shapes as opposed to icons drawn in 3D or isometric projection.

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

Menu icons are displayed 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, greyscale images. Just as tab icons, developers should not use 3D or isometric projections.

Screen sizes for menu icons are described in a slightly more comprehensive way compared to tab icons. Instead of two sizes described 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 size should be smaller than for icons shaped otherwise. The reason for having two different sizes is to establish a consistent visual weight across the two icon types.

The outer dimensions for low, medium, and high resolution 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 rectangles respectively.

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

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