Mobile App Style Guides

When you’re developing native apps for different mobile platforms it’s important to provide a balance between consistent UI branding and the unique experience each platform provides. Not every platform looks the same or provides the same options the same way so why do so may apps try to do so? If you want to create a great app on a iOS device you can’t just replicate what you’ve done on BlackBerry and expect the same results. Apps that try this often received comments like “This is the best Android App I’ve used on iOS”. Learn the platform and it’s expectations and design your apps accordingly.

The best platform for design consistency by far is iOS. Apple provides detailed resources to help guide app developers (sometimes they’re very strict) but that doesn’t mean you can’t do something neat and unique. For example, Loren Brichter introduced the popular pull-to-refresh UI in the popular Tweeite Twitter client (before it was aquire by Twitter):

and the there’s lots of great UI elements in apps like Path and Pinetrest and Stamped to name a few.

Other platforms are also quickly learning the value of good consistent design. Google recently launched the Android Design site which explains and promotes the UI concepts in the latest Android 4.0 release.

To help you out, I’ve assembled a list of these guidelines, design principles, UI best-practice and style shortcuts for working with native applications across the popular platforms.

General Reading

Here’s some great reads for general application development.

iOS

Android

Windows Phone 7

Despite not gaining much traction in the market yet, Microsoft has some great resources.

BlackBerry

BlackBerry also provides some introductory design guides for their various OSes, be sure to select the right target OS that you’re developing for.