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Making Tab and Menu Icons for Android Apps

When designing Android apps or designing graphics for Android apps, one must follow certain guidelines. Using graphics made 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.

Designing Standard Tab and Menu Icons for Android Apps Description: When developing Android apps or drawing graphics for Android apps, it is essential to conform to certain guidelines. Using icons designed for other systems, especially desktop-based, is not a good idea. Foreign graphics will look weird at best, or will render your Android apps hardly recognizable at worst. Body: There exist precise guidelines available for designing standard-compliant Android icons. Different design guidelines are published for tab icons and menu icons.

Android Icons for Navigation Toolbars

Tab icons represent individual tabs in tabbed interface. Tab icons should be supplied in two distinct states: selected and unselected. It is required 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 images, those devices can have different screen sizes, screen resolutions, pixel density and dimensions. To accommodate the variety of screens, Android developers must provide all tab icons used in their apps in at least three resolutions to be drawn on low, medium, and high density displays. Pixel-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 including all three standard sizes, developers can ensure that their apps will display properly on a wide range of platforms running the Android OS.

Menu icons are used in the "options" menu, and are displayed to the user when they press the Menu button. Similar to tab icons, menu icons should be flat, greyscale images. Just as tab icons, developers cannot use 3D or isometric projections.

Screen resolutions for menu icons are defined in a slightly more comprehensive way compared to tab icons. Instead of two sizes defined for tab icons (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 dimensions 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 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 dots. 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 designing your own graphics matching 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 images in both states and all three standard resolutions. Should additional resolutions be required, developers can produce icons at any size by accessing 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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