Android UI Development

Android robot logo.

Image via Wikipedia

I found this article, The Curious Case of Android UI Development, while getting my head around moving from iOS UI development to Android, as I am now doing UI work on the upcoming Alpha release of Serval Batphone. My favourite quote is :

“Though a bit of a well-worn topic, it is worth mentioning the development “culture shock” experienced by those coming from the iPhone world armed with tools like Interface Builder for all its shortcomings to Android-land where we are left with the technological equivalent of sharpened sticks and smooth stones. “

He isn’t wrong. I have come to the conclusion the underlying Android code is easier to work in than iOS (that may be my open source fan girl speaking, Objective C isn’t my favourite after all), but the tools available for UI development, which is my area of interest, are ‘teh suck’. Which is geek speak for they suck. I do like Balsamiq for general wireframing (I use iMockup on my iPad, and love that too. DroidDraw is incredibly dated feeling. If anyone has any other tips, I am open to them!

A couple of good links, btw :

Android vs IPhone development
Android UI development tools
Android UI Development: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

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4 thoughts on “Android UI Development

  1. Thomas

    I’ve not tried iOS development, but I do sympathise with your views on Android UI dev tools. You’re using Eclipse with the Android SDK, I assume. That at least helps to some extent.

    The way Google sees Android app design reminds me of my early years in object-oriented programming (Smalltalk) in the mid 1990’s. It could be described as an academic approach, requiring a thorough understanding of the Android environment, and an aversion to UI-layout tools.

    The “Android vs iPhone Development” article mentions the PragProg book “Hello Android“. I recommend the book, if you don’t already have it. Read it (and do the examples) and then return to the Android online docs. Things may then be [a little] easier :)

  2. timelady Post author

    Thanks for the recommendation:)

    One of the most interesting perspectives on this has arisen from reading the Human User Interface Guidelines from Apple, and the equivalent design documentation from Android. The former is about the experience, high standards, ease of use, it should be seamless in operation – hell,t hey even use the word ‘deautiful’ repeatedly.
    The latter is starkly about functionality.

    I wish i could combine the excellence of Android backend development with the amazing potential of iOS UI development.

    I have heard (apocryphally) that development meetings at Google are based around the requirements of the engineers. At apple, it is the designers. Ultimately, the user benefits most from both working in harmony.

    Yeah, utopian development:)

  3. Nate

    You shouldn’t be using DroidDraw. I don’t really know why it exists. The Android SDK has an Eclipse plugin, installed by default, that is much better, but still not good. Forcing the XML layout stuff on us is nasty. You might try TableLayout (different from the TableLayout class in the Android SDK):
    http://code.google.com/p/table-layout/

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