Android Apps & Big Tabs

Almost any Android app these days seem to use the commonly seen tabs at the top of the app that helps navigate the user to different sections of the app. It looks nice and organized but it does have a major flaw.

The tabs on any iPhone app on the other hand are displayed nicely at the bottom of the app. Some Android developers even started bringing that same look to their Android apps, but that does take away from Android’s uniqueness. So what’s wrong with using the standard Android tabs you say? It’s obviously the size of the tabs.

Those tabs take a massive portion of the screen if you take into consideration how small most of those Android screens are. You’ll definitely know what I am talking about if you’re using a 3.7″ touch screen Android smartphone like the Nexus One I am using. Utilizing those big tabs in portrait mode is wonderful and extremely functional. But as soon as you rotate the device and use the app in landscape mode you’ll start to experience the nightmare. The tabs take more than a third (and sometimes even half) of the screen leaving you just barely enough screen height under the tabs to scroll through the listed items. That, in my opinion, is a design flaw.

On the iPhone, the section or navigation bar is taking up a small space on the app’s screen and it’s tucked neatly at the bottom of the app, sometimes you don’t even notice it’s there. I’d like Android to take a similar approach and start releasing controls in the SDK that doesn’t take up much screen real state. And while they’re at it, maybe add some polish to the most commonly used controls. Would love to see Android becomming a lot more aesthetically pleasing.

Google Android Shines with Motorola Droid

I always hated the fact that all Android devices had small screens. Most (if not all) came with a 3.2″ screen. That screen size is certainly small for a smartphone. Plus, the soft keyboard takes more than half the size of the screen leaving just enough screen to display 2 lines of text (in landscape mode). But then the Motorola Droid came along and pretty much changed how Android devices should look like.

Even though HTC tapped the Android market first, they totally screwed up with the screen size (at least in my opinion). Motorola got it right and now HTC will be following the same path by releasing other HTC Android devices with larger screens (3.5″+). The future for Android just keeps looking better.

In my opinion, for a device to be truly called a smartphone it requires 2 things: a large screen and a physical keyboard. The Motorola Droid has both features plus the good looks. It will probably take forever till we see a GSM Motorola Droid (Milestone) hitting a Canadian wireless carrier, but that won’t stop me from buying it unlocked whenever it comes out somewhere on our planet.