Android Adultery: Density Dilemma


Apple really created the game of multiple densities when they introduced their beautiful Retina displays. Android has made this game somewhat of a circus by adding 4 other densities (in addition to 1x & 2x), as well as a sea of screen sizes. Designing for android has been somewhat frustrating, but I have learned a ton. I discusses a lot about designing for different screen sizes in the video, but forgot to mention the importance of not "porting" an iOS app over to Android. I mentioned Adrian Kenny's (@kennyadr) tweet saying, "Any interface designer that does a crappy iOS port to android or any other device is a one trick pony." I half agree with this in the fact that, using your iOS design in the Android ecosystem is bad form. On the contrary, I also think that most UI/UX designers aren't given the chance to completely redesign an app due to the added investment. Larger companies havent made a big bet on Android, which is why we still see some "iOS-esque" apps in the Play Store. 

The main thing I wanted to communicate was that everyone will need to start making that investment as the Android market grows and matures.....and when that time comes, we as designers HAVE to consider the user. For us to have an elitist (Apple Fanboy) perspective will only hurt the Android user's experience. The patterns of Android that I have been talking about in these videos are drastically different than iOS, and a true mobile designer should know not only iOS, but Android, Windows, etc like the back of their hand. I understand that the AppStore is a thriving market and some people will focus on that platform. However, for those of us working on larger/global products...it is time to bite the bullet and grow up (said with love).   :)

Back to densities. Below are just some simple resource and info I use every day. Hope it helps. Also, if you are interested in the "Designing in Keynote" workshop I helped Ted Boda with you can find everything at ilovekeynote.com

Density Breakdown

MDPI / Non Retina
XHDPI / Retina


iOS & Android
iOS & Android

Useful Links

General Android Links

Android Design Principles:   http://developer.android.com/design/index.html
Android GUI, Fonts, Etc:   http://developer.android.com/design/downloads/index.html
Simple DPI Calculator:   http://coh.io/adpi/
Nice List of Device Densities:   http://blog.blundell-apps.com/list-of-android-devices-with-pixel-density-buckets/

9 Patch

9 Patch is a little frustrating but really makes your designs to be fluid for varying screen sizes. Read up on it. Put some important link below to save you some time. If you are afraid of terminal commands......don't worry its not that bad. 

Android Dev SDK:   http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html
Draw 9 Patch Download:   http://developer.android.com/tools/help/draw9patch.html
9 Patch Explanation:   http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/graphics/2d-graphics.html#nine-patch