iOS vs Android Native Features

A handy comparison list for mobile product designers

As a mobile product designer, keeping abreast of iOS Human Interface Guidelines and Android Material Design guidelines is part of my job. But between Android simple menus and dialogs, iOS form sheet modals and popovers, it’s sometimes hard to remember what is what, which is why I’ve found myself saying things like:

“Can we use the popover sheet menu thing that shoots up from the bottom?”
“Can we change the colour of the top bar? I mean the bar with the time and battery level?”

To help keep us all on the same page, and as a kind of penance to every engineer I’ve ever worked with, I’ve compiled a reference list of common Android and iOS native features, with links to the relevant Human Interface or Material Design guidelines.

It’s interesting to see how much effort Google has put into their design guidelines compared to Apple. Compare the information on text fields from Apple and Google.

Material Design’s reference is thoughtful, instructive, and full of useful images and gifs to help you understand the context, constraints, and recommended specs. Even Windows UWP has deeper guidelines than Apple’s, which are often thin on information and leave you scratching your head and searching other sources. One such source is this short but useful iOS reference from designer Ivo Mynttinen.

My iOS vs Android comparison list only links to official Apple or Google guidelines. This is because tech and design guidelines change so rapidly that today’s unofficial source could become tomorrow’s redundant information. The list itself starts with key reference guides at the top, with the rest ordered alphabetically.

  • If you see n/a, it means the feature is not natively supported by that platform and so there’s no link available.
  • If you see a word without a link, then it’s a supported native feature, and commonly known by that name, but there’s no official Apple or Android design guidelines to reference to.

I hope you find the list useful.

Description Android iOS
Design language Material Design Human Interface Guidelines (HIG)
Design language principles UI based on layering and 'paper craft' UI is minimal, light, flat
GUI - resource download Sticker Sheet Apple UI Design Resources
Accessibility guidelines Accessibility Accessibility
Alert - in app Alerts Alerts
Alert - push notifications Notifications Notifications
Animation Material Motion Designing with Animation (2015 WWDC video)
App structure - overview Android App Structure Interface Essentials
Bar - top informational
(device time, battery, cellular display)
System Bar Status Bar
Biometrics / Fingerprint Fingerprint Touch ID
Bottom sheet - always in view content or menu Persistent Bottom Sheet n/a
Bottom sheet - temporarily in view content or menu Modal Bottom Sheet n/a
Breadcrumbs / page control n/a Page Control
Button - back button Up Button Back Button
Button - home button Back Button Home Button
Buttons - general software buttons Buttons Buttons
Cards Cards n/a
Color reference Color Color
Control - plus/minus stepper n/a Stepper
Control - slider Sliders Sliders
Control - switch Switch Switch
Delivery file .apk (Android application package) .ipa (iOS App Store Package)
Development Software Environment Android Studio Xcode
Dialogs Dialogs Modality
Empty States Empty States Empty State
Error Messaging Errors Error Message
Expansion panel Expansion Panel n/a
Exports - png sizings mdpi, hdpi, xhdpi, xxhdpi, xxxhdpi @1x, @2x, @3x
Feedback - alerts Confirming and Acknowledging Feedback
Feedback - spinner / progress indicator 'Progress and Activity Indicators' (Linear and Circular) Progress Indicators' (Progress Bars and Activity Indicators)
Feedback - temporary feedback Snackbars and Toasts n/a
Full screen - touch to bring back system bars  Full Screen Immersive n/a
Full screen - swipe from edge of screen to bring back system bars Full Screen Lean Back n/a
General metrics / Grid Metrics & Keylines n/a
Gestures Gestures Gestures
Icons - app product icon Product Icon App Icon
Icons - system Material Icons System Icons
Images - exporting Image Scaling Image size and resolution
Images Loading Images Image View
Launch screen Launch Screen Launch Screen
List - grid view Grid List Collections
List - interactivity and controls List Controls n/a
List - list view Lists Tables
List - value picker
(e.g. date, time)
Picker Picker
Measurement standard - font Scaleable Pixels (sp) - used for fonts points (pt)
Measurement standard - size Density-independent Pixels (dp) points (pt)
Menu - temporary 'make a choice' alert Modal Bottom Sheet Action Sheet
Menu - temporary select task
(e.g. Copy, Favorite, or Find)
Menu Activity View
Menu - text or image edit  Menu Edit Menu
Modal - full screen Full Screen Dialog Full Screen Modal
Modal - full screen mobile/part screen tablet n/a Page Sheet Modal
Modal - Same size as current view n/a Current Context Modal
Modal - temporary/popover Simple Menu Form Sheet Modal
Multitasking n/a Multitasking
Navigation - 3D Touch n/a Peek and Pop
Navigation - activity Activity n/a
Navigation - bottom tabs
(consistent app navigation)
Bottom Navigation Bar Tab Bar
Navigation - experience driven Links/Crosslinks/External Links Experience or Content Driven Navigation
Navigation - flat  Siblings / Lateral Navigation / Collections Flat Navigation
Navigation - heirarchical Parent and Child (ascending/descending) Heirarchical Navigation
Navigation - home Home Scene Home Screen  
Navigation - page turn n/a Pages
Navigation - side menu or navigation drawer Navigation Drawer n/a
Navigation - tab buttons Tabs Segmented Control
Navigation - task Task n/a
Navigation - top navigation bar App Bar / Primary Toolbar Navigation Bar
Navigation guidelines Navigation Navigation
Onboarding Guidelines Onboarding Onboarding (2014 WWDC video)
Payments Android Pay Apple Pay
Permissions Permissions Requesting Permission
Popover / temporary overlay view Dialog Popover
Printing Cloud Print AirPrint
Pull/Swipe to refresh Swipe to Refresh Refresh Content Control
Sharing Intent Sharing
Scrolling Scrolling Scroll View
Split Screen Split Screen Split View
Text - field Text Field Text Field
Text - label Label Label
Text - text view Multi-line Text Field Text View
Toolbar (consistent) Toolbar Toolbar
Tooltips (mobile) Touch UI Tooltip n/a
Touch target size  Touch Target Size Custom icon size recommendation
TV Platform Android TV tvOS
Typography - Font - platform default Roboto / Noto SF UI Text / SF UI Display
Voice / assistant Google Assistant Siri
Wearables Platform Android Wear watchOS
Widget - collection
(multiple snippets of info on home screen - e.g. emails)
Collection Widget n/a
Widget - control
(display often used functions on home screen - e.g. music controls)
Control Widget n/a
Widget - home screen
(usually single piece of information, tapping launches related app)
Information Widget Home Screen Quick Action Widget
Widget - hybrid
(displays combo of above - e.g. music controls with song name)
Hybrid Widget n/a
Widget - search screen n/a Search Screen Widget
Widgets - overview Widget Widget
Writing guidelines Writing Terminology