Density Independent Pixels is the Story of Android Solution to Differing Screen Size

January 31, 2012, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

When it comes to developing an app, only developers understand the pain undergone. Though, the coding and bugging takes a lot effort to get it to run perfectly, the strain is more when the app is meant for a platform like Android, which runs on a lot of devices.

The main issue is to decide the shape and size of different elements in the UI of the app, as the devices with different screen sizes run on Android. But while setting the rules, Google really put a lot of future vision to it unlike Palm, which found it difficult as the screen sizes increased.

Palm devices which had a 160×160 resolution, was doing ok for the developers, but when Sony introduced the first 320×320 screened device, they had to double the coordinates. But when they wanted to play the trick on 320×240 devices, they struggled.

Though putting the handwriting area at the bottom, they still kept the display at square shape. But the scaling factor was 1.5 which made distortions in display, like smudged with the otherwise solid lines.

Google well tackled this problem; with a concept named dip- density independent pixel. The difference is very visible in application.

For instance, if a developer creates a button with 100 pixel width, it will be very smaller on a 640×480 device than a 320×480 device. But if he is using 100 dip as the width of the button, it will have the same size on both screens.

However, to make sure that apps look great on any device, Google has set up a set of major buckets. They are pet named ldpi which is approximately equivalent to 120 dpi, mdpi (160 dpi), hdpi (240 dpi), and xhdpi (320 dpi).

Manufacturers can select the density which is appropriate for their device. Though it was a little straining for the developers at first, it gave unimagined flexibility for the platform even when the new devices came up.

Even with the arrival of Galaxy Nexus with a 316 dpi 1280X720 screen, Android apps had no issues.  Well, Android has no other way to come up as a popular platform for developers and manufacturers.

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