Unifying UX Across iOS and Android - Is It Cross Platform Compatible Design?

The question that has come to our mind with the availability of Phone Gap and Xamarin advancing in the market, providing efficiency to restore both as OS’s iOS & Android with a single code-base, is, whether our aim should be the bonding experiences over both the systems ?

As compared to iOS, where the coordination is much severe for providing QA applications in the app store, there is a vast difference in the quality between Android Apps in the mark    et. The difference between iOS application and Android apps is that there is a feeling of warmth while using the former which can be experienced during the mobile application development. Whereas, the Android seems to be a smaller version.

Mobile Apps Design

Similar, But Different - Post Material Design

Because of the release of material design by Google, the consistency of Google’s collection of products has begun to crop up. But, because of the effective differences between Google’s guidelines and Apples’, the credit definitely goes to Google. These guidelines in return have helped Android developers in building up custom Android services.

Re-Building The iOS Experience for Android

Yes, definitely we can rebuild the iOS experience for Android. In view of the similarities between the two systems, from the angle of UX/UI, certain questions arise like why would you? What would you gain by doing this? A perceived cost saving in the development of time application?

Let us reverse the question. What would you do if you had an Android specific application and decided to put the experience back to iOS?  What would you think about your iOS users? After all, both the OS’s demand similar respects.

Going back to the original question, as, can we unify the experience between, iOS and Android? Still remains to be a debatable question.  You could Focus an experience in terms of brand values, messaging and alignment in terms of visual direction could be done, but, as far as the actual interactions are concerned within each platform, it is the operating system that drives the main or basic experience, not the application itself and this is the reason why Google and Apple have taken so long creating their guidelines.

The main Difference Between the two Systems is as Follows:-

In iOS system, there is no Universal Back Button which is agnostic and allows you to go revert to actions outside the app experience. The navigation/action bar position is at the bottom with a target area of 44px x 44px. Whereas, in Android system, there is Universal Back Button which is app agnostic and allows you to go revert to actions outside of the app experience. The navigation/action bar position is at the top with a target area of 48px x 48px.

Universal Back Button:

The big back button on Android is of a universal control, allowing user to pass back through the previous interaction as well as outside of the application that are currently in to ease the movement between the applications.

Navigation Bar/ Action Bar:

Google definitely chooses just the opposite as compared to Apple guidelines which encourages designers to place tools, actions and buttons in the lower bar on the screen, leaving the top to clear with one or two buttons. The users of the OS have inherited and learnt these patterns over the years.

Target Area:

It may be of less importance, but its command is high on its users, as in the Android community larger target area is acceptable to pick up an iOS device. Whereas, as compared to iOS, button target areas are bigger on Android.

The following are the points of difference between iOS Facebook and Android Facebook.
  • The search box is different in both the systems
  • The Chat drawer (top right icon) has a different visual treatment
  • Positioning of global controls over Status, Photo, and check-in
  • Additional component box for adding a status on Android that is not on iOS
  • Gestural differences between the two programs. When you swipe slowly to the right on Android, you have to move between the Activity Feed, Friend requests, messages, etc, as the same is not present on iOS
  • Different typography (Helvetica Neue on iOS and Roboto on Android)
  • Smaller UI items such as colour on iconography
Thus, looking to the above, we can gather the differences but, apart from the differences there are different pattern applied to the internal application search and also the user-flow can be experienced on both the systems.

Facebook iOS:

A User taps search which is a new search page displaying Recently Searched, but has a ‘Cancel’ button applied after the search field, which is a standard iOS pattern.

Facebook Android:

A User taps search which is a new search page and displays recently searched but has a ‘Back’ button applied before the search field, which is a standard iOS pattern.

The business on Facebook continuously keeps on repeating and improving on their OS’s. Hence, the application should be tweaked according to its performance.


Thus, there is a huge difference between the two OS’s. Time could be saved by using a single code; both iOS and Android have their own significance and identity as well as distinct characteristic. It solely depends upon its users to owe the experiences.

About Author:

With blogging experience in various fields of technology, Michael Waugh has gained impressive knowledge about Mobile Application Development. Currently he is associated with Potenza Global Solutions, a top-notch IT company that deals with various mobile apps.