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Designing Standard Tab and Menu Icons for Android Apps

When developing mobile apps or designing graphics for Android apps, it is essential to follow certain guidelines. Using images designed for other operating systems, especially desktop-based, is generally not a good idea. Foreign images will look out of place at best, or will render your Android apps hardly recognizable at worst.

There are precise guidelines published in reference to Android icons. Different design guidelines are available for tab icons and menu graphics.

Tab icons represent individual tabs in tabbed interface. Tab icons should be supplied in two distinct states: selected and unselected. It is recommended that tab icons are created as simple, flat shapes as opposed to images drawn in 3D or isometric projection.

Android OS and Android apps can run on a multitude of different platforms employing a wide range of hardware. In reference to icon images, those devices can have different screen sizes, display resolutions, pixel dimensions and density. To accommodate the variety of displays, Android developers should supply all tab icons used in their apps in at least three resolutions to be displayed on low, medium, and high density screens. Pixel-wise, the outer boundaries for the three sizes are defined as 24x24, 32x32, and 48x48 pixels. Inner dimensions (the size of the shape itself) 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 devices running the Android OS.

Menu icons are used 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 cannot use 3D or isometric projections.

Screen sizes for menu icons are defined in a slightly more complex way compared to tab icons. Instead of two sizes defined for tab graphics (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 size limits is to establish a consistent visual weight across the two icon types.

The outer dimensions for ldpi, mdpi and hdpi icons are defined as 36x36, 48x48, and 72x72 pixels respectively. Inner shapes for square, low-definition icons should be 22x22 pixels, while non-square icons should fit into a boundary box sized 24x24 dots. Similarly, medium-definition icons should fit 30x30 and 32x32 pixel boxes, while high-definition images should fit into 44x44 and 48x48 pixel boxes respectively.

Android Tab Icons

Instead of designing your own icons conforming to these guidelines, Android developers have an option of obtaining ready-made images from professional designers. As an example, Android Tab Icons by Aha-Soft include 112 unique tab images in both states and all standard resolutions. Should additional resolutions be required, developers can render graphics at any size by accessing scalable vector sources. Android Tab Icons can be previewed and downloaded at www.aha-soft.com/stock-icons/android-tab-icons.htm

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Icon IconLover is our pick. It allows you to design and edit all kinds of graphics required in the software development cycle, including icons, static and animated cursors and interface elements - all these graphics can now be designed in a single application.

 Cut Icon Toolbar Icon Set. A collection of practical and eye catching Windows icons representing all basic operations required for software development.

Dollar Icon Business Icon Set will make your software and web products look more modern and attractive. File formats included into the set are Windows icons, GIF and PNG images.

Icon ArtIcons Pro is an advanced icon-specific utility for Windows. It supports ICO, BMP, PNG, GIF, PSD, XPM, XBM, WBMP, CUR and ANI image formats and allows you to manage icon libraries.

Icon Any to Icon converts icons and cursors into BMP, JPG, PNG, GIF, ICO, CUR and other formats. This wizard can find icons and make images for use on Web pages.