So you have created a nice and handy app and it looks fine on your test devices and on the emulator. You upload and publish your game on the Google Play Store and what happens? You get some very great reviews but also some very bad ones. How can this happen? You look into it and you get reaction like “blurry text”, “shadow text”, “alignment issues” and a lot more of those kinds of bad reviews. So what has gone wrong?
The main reason why this happens is due to the great amount of different android versions, mobile phone brands and of course the different phone types. You use some kind of standard theme, but how sure are you that everyone has that? Here are some insights on the problem:
New Theme syndrome
One of the most common mistakes is using a newer theme that is not supported by the earliest version of Android that your app actually does support. The behavior is not always so straightforward and can result in strange behavior. So you should always check if your chosen theme is available on the older versions of Android that your app supports. If you still want to use the new theme for your app, try to split it up so that it uses a theme for each Android version, so the normal one for the older version but the newest and nicest ones for the newer Android versions.
You still have no guarantees of perfect working themes though:
Mobile Brand’s view
A Mobile device creator tries to make the best mobile phone to conquer the market. Unfortunately, they do not always make the best choices for there own altered version of Android. For example; Some phones like the Sony Xperia U had in their older Android version some alternate approaches on the ‘standard’ Android themes, which sometimes resulted in displaying a shadow on the normal text, which looks very blurry and very badly. On their own apps and stuff it just looked fine, because they created them, but when an app developer did not code his themes well it did show the black shadow on black letters, resulting in the blurry text. Because all other brands did not change the standard themes it just showed well on each test device.
Although Android is a very good OS, it still has bugs. Bugs can always be present and influence the look and feel of your app. Nothing you can do about the bugs but re-actively fix the problems. You can however reduce this problem to almost not existing.
Nice to know what happens but what is the solution? Well you can do a lot of different things:
- Take Control! Designing your own theme fits your app best, but it also allows you to do it in such a way so that the app only looks at your data and not at the not-so-standard android theme data. Do add everything that is important in your theme definition, do not exclude the properties that remain the same as the standard because it can cause problems (see Mobile Brand’s view and Bugs). This can be some extra work though. So if you want your text to be black, include it in your theme definitions, even if it is the standard Android color for text! Android.com – How to create your own styles
- Use the lowest possible theme for your app, not the most beautiful solution, but it is the quickest.
- Choose different themes per Android version, using the values and create an XML per Android version, but do test them thouroughly!
Time will be the main factor, but we do stress that a good working app is the best way of getting users so invest time from the start in the themes!