“Bottom navigation” officially added to Material Design guidelines

by: Kris CarlonMarch 15, 2016

Bottom navigation Google Photos

Bottom navigation has now officially been added to Google’s Material Design guidelines, meaning you’ll likely start seeing more and more navigation bars being added to the bottom of your favorite apps rather than having different sections separated out into tabs at the top or in sections in the navigation drawer.

material2-16x9-1080pSee also: 10 awesome examples of material design32

Google added the new bottom navigation rules to the Material Design guidelines. That is, the standard by which all Android developers are supposed to adhere if they want to be following the official design rules Google lays out for Android. Now, Google itself doesn’t even strictly follow the rules, and the same can be said of the bottom navigation bars in Google Photos and Google+.

Bottom navigation buttons Gogole Plus

In case you don’t know what “bottom navigation” means, it’s the presence of a navigation bar at the bottom of an app just above the on-screen navigation buttons. It’s designed to replace the need for tabbed sections at the top of an app or in the navigation drawer, arguably because it puts navigation closer to your fingertips. However, Google’s new guidelines allow for both tabs and bottom navigation as well as the hamburger menu.

Ideally, Google would like between three and five items in the bottom navigation bar that provide access to key areas that should always be only one tap away in an app. Tabbed sections can still be used to divide content and the hamburger menu/navigation drawer is still the repository for everything else. If you think this is likely to lead to confusion, you’re probably right.

What do you think about bottom navigation? An improvement over tabs or change for change’s sake?

  • Christian Taylor

    Ugh! I hated that about iOS, and now it’s leaking in to Material Design :(

    • Brad Fortin

      Give them feedback! With Android N still in development you could ask them to put a toggle in the settings to put the navigation back at the top.

      • Christian Taylor

        I’m not a developer, so I don’t think/know if I can leave feedback.

        • Brad Fortin

          Google has an Issue Tracker for Android, as well as a Google+ community for Android Development. I’ve replied to you in another comment with links but I’m not sure if AA allows links in the comments.

          • Christian Taylor

            Also though, the article says that it is “officially added.” So I don’t think it’s still a “beta” thing. Probably not a shot in sending feedback.

          • Brad Fortin

            It worked with people complaining to Apple about the Apple Pencil functionality during the latest Betas. It’s worth a shot.

          • Christian Taylor


    • Michel Ribeiro

      Also had that 2007 feeling. Hated that as well.

  • Mohamed Salim


  • danix180

    I actually think it’s a good ideea. I know it looks like iOS a bit but it will offer faster navigation. I like the way they implemented it in Photos

  • Noah Jones

    I liked the tabs and it’s kind of sad to see it go but this is still fine

    • DDD

      It’s not really “going”. Google just gave their preference. Some apps will end up keeping tabs.

  • Comediante

    Hamburger Menus > Navigation bars.
    Simpler, effective and dont always reserve a useful part of the display just for navigation.

  • This is EXTREMELY useful, given that the upper left hand corner was terrible for bigger smartphones, totally inefficient.

    • Android Developer

      You forgot that for tabbed navigation, you can just swipe (AKA ViewPager). You don’t really have to click the upper tabs.

    • teomor

      They were terrible even way back when phones were 4.5″.

  • viktor

    It would be very useful…

    • Flux


  • I only know it’s very useful for one hand operation, it’s quick and easy to navigate like that. And I am not sure why it’s not in every app…

  • Andrew H

    I think it’s awesome. Our thumbs are at the bottom of our phones… So that’s where the buttons should be. I never understood top navigation…

    • Michel Ribeiro

      But you could always swipe to change the current tab, right? No need to reach the top of your screen with your thumb.


      Also, with tabs you can display content that is “larger” than your screen, scrolling horizontally.

      To sum up, when you have fewer tabs (let’s say two tabs), you can beautifully split the tab bar in 2. I don’t think that having 2 icons on bottom navigation will be as nicely displayed.

      • Andrew H

        I imagine in apps like Gmail, buttons like reply etc. could be put down the bottom to aid in usefulness of the bar.

        I hope the bottom buttons can scroll too.

        • Michel Ribeiro

          That could be achieved using an expandable FAB, like Evernote does. But that’s just my personal taste.

  • 404

    Dang it, now navigation is even more split up and confusing like v2.2

  • SaRPeR

    On-screen navigation buttons + bottom navigation will make a 5.5 inch phone 5.2 or 5 inch. I even hate on-screen navigation buttons. Why put them on screen when you have enough space below the display ? I think Samsung’s implementation is the best.

  • qvisten

    Great with phones with larger screen :) I like it.

  • injuneer25

    I love it! Hopefully it will replace that God awful FAB.

  • It will interfere with the natural scrolling. Now we will need to move the thumb to an upper area when trying to start to scroll up.