MyLaps - Bringing an iPhone app to Android
MyLaps is a brand who offers a professional sports timing systems to measure, publish and analyze race and practice results for all kind off sports. MyLaps came to us because they wanted an Android version of their current iPhone app. It's something very common, but usually it's not very well done. So, let us explain our way of working on those projects.
Usually the client thinks that once the iPhone app is designed and working it's pretty easy to make an Android version. But unlike what most clients think, it's not just copying the design of the iPhone app to Android. Both platforms have really different styles and guidelines. As designers and developers we have to take care of that. For example> iPhone style is usually focused on imitating objects from real life and making an app about that. Android (and Android users) usually prefer a more abstract style, that's really focused on information and usability. Another important example of the difference between both platforms is the tab bar and the ActionBar. The iPhone navigation usually focuses on the tab bar on the bottom of the screen where Android often uses an ActionBar.
The last and maybe most important difference is the use of the back button. Because Android devices have a hardware back button every screen should be able to handle the back button in a proper and logic way. Where the iPhone can just hide the back button from the topbar when it's not needed the Android back button can't be removed. This is something what should be thought about and might change the flow of the Android app.
Our mission was to create an Android app based on an already existing iPhone app. How did we do that? We started thinking of making a proper design without a tab bar. The features from the tab bar will be moved to the ActionBar. After that we redesign all the icons to have a more proper Android style but keeping it consistent with the brand. That's done by removing most of the iPhone characteristics, like gradients, helvetica font and round corners. The result is a clean and Android styled design. But the design is not the only thing that had to change. Because iPhone uses Objective-C to program apps and Android uses java, the whole app had to be programmed in java. For MyLaps all code was written from scratch, the only thing the apps have in common is the webservice they use to retrieve the information shown in the app.
As you can see in the end almost nothing from the iPhone app get's reused without a touch from a designer or developer.