In the wake of our latest release of the Multi Lang Dictionary for Android, we have redesigned the interface to be more iPhone version like. This topic has been noted  in the Android user interface and experience categories because of the debate between usefulness and consistency.

Here is the main argument:

http://www.androiduipatterns.com/2011/07/tabs-top-or-bottom.html

And here is why we chose tabs on the bottom

A quick photoshop edit to put the tab bar at the top has caused literally a ton of “overhead”. As you can clearly see, when you have too much screen estate dedicated to toolbars and search bars and such, along with navigation, things get cluttered quickly. On top of that, consider the amount of space left when rotating the device to landscape mode. Doesn’t look very nice does it?

Tabs on the Bottom vs Tabs on the Top

As per many great designs, the core body, in our case the dictionary content, should take the majority of the space. This creates a sense of equilibrium to the eye that is soothing and allows the eyes to quickly identify how to use the application. Since our eyes have been trained to look from the top to the bottom as per newspapers and other writing, the most important function should be at the top. For many applications, this could be a navigation bar, an add/edit button, title, etc. Since the MLD isn’t necessarily a navigation based app, we put our most important function, the languages and the query box.

Tabs on the Bottom vs Tabs on the Top

Again, going back to the way we read things, the next logical step for our eyes is one level down, which should be the direct result of the top level content. This could be adding an item to a todo list or the article of a newspaper. It really is the meat of the application. For us, this was the dictionary content. If we were to put the tabs on the top, the user wouldn’t feel that the dictionary result was as important.

The tabs on the bottom allows up to very elegantly present the subsections of the app without being intrusive to the content or the searching.