Friday, 17 June 2011

iPhone like Tabs in Android.

Hi all!
While developing Android application we needed Iphone like tab bar at the bottom of the screen, so Googled and find usefull links but having some issues.

Some of the usefull links I found were.
and so many links.

These posts are good and useful also.
But I was curious about having TabWidget and TabHost not using any other controller like some of authors have used RadioButtonGroup and Repeated Image Background.
So I searched about customizing android TabIndicator and found a solution.

The files which will be needed are as follows:

in res/drawable directory:
  1.     tab_selected.xml    (will be used to show effect while selected)
  2.     tab_pressed.xml    (will be used to show effect while pressed)
  3.     tab_unselected.xml    (will be used to show effect while unselected)
  4.     tab_focus.xml    (will be used to show effect while focused)
  5.     tab_indicator.xml    (will be used to show effect while to sum up all the states)

in res/layout directory:
  1.     tab_indicator.xml    (Layout of the tab indicator which will include image)
  2.     main.xml    (Layout containing TabWidget and TabHost)
  3.     mock.xml    (Layout for mock Activity)
in res/values

  1. color.xml (Color definition as resource)
  2. strings.xml (Strings as resource)
  3. dimentions.xml (Dimentions will be used to set size of components)
  4. styles.xml (Define Style etc.)

Here we will see how the tab_focus.xml will look.

the remaining xml drawable will also be something like this but with little changes to show their related effects.

The tab_indicator.xml in layout folder will be as follows:

The main.xml will be same as usual layouts are defined but the TabWidget will be placed at the bottom.

so in Java side while defining TabActivity it will looks like this.

the addTab(); method will get the String id as text indicator and Drawable Id as to show the icon of the tab.

When we will compile and run the code we will se the iPhone Tabs in Android app.

We can change the color of the Tab Bar in under res/color.xml

<color name="tabMedium">#4F4F4F</color>
<color name="tabDark">#3F3F3F</color>

by replacing Dark and relevent Medium color we can change the Tab look.

The app will look like this.

The best thing in this approach is we can add tabs as we add usual tab in Android.

Fully Satisfied.

The full source code is available for download HERE.

Happy Coding!



  1. HI!

    i need 5 TAB in screen. But i don't add.
    Please help me,


  2. Hay chiataytuday!
    you can add as many tabs as you wish.
    Just add another tab as you do usually.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Very nicely done. This is how tab customization should be done. Expecting to see many more UI customizations done the right way from you. Keep doing the good work...

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Hi there, awesome site. I thought the topics you posted on were very interesting.
    I tried to add your RSS to my feed reader and it a few. take a look at it, hopefully I can add you and follow.

    Android App Development

  7. can you please tell how you change the whole background of bar. As i want to use a background image for whole tab bar, so how could I?

    1. Well I wouldn't suggest you to use image as background, as there are plenty of android devices with different screen sizes, so this may cause bad layout design at some device, However you can use any texture image, for this you have to edit the first tag of the following files.

      tab_selected.xml, tab_pressed.xml, tab_unselected.xml, tab_focus.xml, tab_indicator.xml

  8. Hi Adil Soomro,

    I am new to android.
    I want to write app with this design.
    I downloaded your code.
    But unable to start.

    I have download eclipse android developer tool.
    I have written some easy android app.
    But I don't know how to start this tabbar app and write this.

    Can you tell me how can I start using this GUI ?

    Best Regards,
    Ko Ko

  9. For Android you probably want to use the Action Bar Tabs:

    Also we just released PortKit: UX Metaphor Equivalents for iOS & Android

    It has side by side comparisons of the native ui widgets and links to downloadable PSDs for designing.

  10. Is thera any way to use activity group with this layout to open new activitys within the same tab??


    1. Well, TabActivity is no longer recommended, however you can put ActivityGroup in every tab.

  11. You are using tab host ..It is deprecated now.. So will it cause any problem if we use it ion higher API level

    1. It'll work, but its not suggestible. You should go with Fragments and ActionBar

    2. I want to implement it with action bar only but i m not getting how to start with.. :( Can you guide me??

      I am not Stackover flow.. I pinged u in Android discussion but you are not available..

  12. Nooo!!!! Don't do this!! This really annoys me. Android apps should be Android apps, not iPhone apps! Tabs should be at the top in Android!!!

    1. @Mark yes! I agree, I believe in pure android, thats why I added the same in my answer to this question here: Android - iphone style tabhost. But when you work with clients and after a long hours of discussion on the UI and they still stick to the requirements ignoring the UX of platforms, then you've no options left.

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  14. Hello Adil,

    Thanks for the wonderful tutorial,

    may i know one more thing? How can i use Action bar search with this?

    Thanks and regards,



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