Are hamburger side menus considered OK on Android?


I’m midway through developing an app which will be available on iOS and Android. I’ve been an iOS native developer and user for many years and am very comfortable with the design aesthetic. Android UI best design practices seem to be far less defined, which I’m struggling with.

So in the iOS version of my app I have 4 main tabs at the bottom and optional “sub tabs” in the header bar. This works great, but when I run on Android it looks confusing and messy because I now have

  • Action Bar (with title of current section and on some tabs, a search button)
  • 4 main tabs
  • sub tabs (optional depending on which section is selected)

Now I could change the Android styling of main tabs so they’re just icons, and maybe this would be enough distinction between the 2 levels of navigation, but it still feels a bit awkward to me.

I’ve read the arguments why hamburger menus are bad (which is why I’ve gone with 4 main tabs) but it seems that on Android the hamburger side menu is very common. Most noticeably on Google’s own apps. So I’m now wondering if I should move the 4 main tabs into a side menu on Android, so I end up with:

  • Action bar (with hamburger menu button on left, then title of current section and optional search button on right)
  • sub tabs (optional depending on which section is selected)

Any thoughts?