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I'm working on an app for public transit information that has a base layout looking like this:

The three tabs represent trip planner, departure times and disruptions respectively, which are the three main features of the application.

The problem is that you could be at a location where there's bus, tram and train trops and it would be annoying if all the departure times were in the same list under each other.

So, I figure that ideally this view would require a sort of subtab system to select the kind of vehicle you want to see the departure times for.

How would I solve this problem gracefully in an Ice Cream Sandwich design?

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How would I use subtabs in Android interfaces? –  Overv Jun 14 '12 at 23:55
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up vote 6 down vote accepted

I wouldn't use sub-tabs. Why not use an ExpandableListView for busses/trains/trams instead?

Anyway I think your premise is wrong. No one is interested in all departures at a place. That's the way it is done on train stations and at airports because many people want to see departure information and the system must provide an answer to all viewers.

But you are dealing with one user only. And this user only cares about his departures. Thus instead of thinking about sub-tabs or ExpandableListViews you should probably think about how to provide this one user with the information he is interested in. E.g. on which platform leaves my train to Munich? Is it delayed? Are inconveniences to expect (e.g. bus transport because railways are getting maintained). And so on.

I guess a good filter and a quick way to enter the desired destination is what's needed here. That's something completely different - granted. But ask yourself: If you are going to Munich, will you care about information about busses leaving for Ulm, and other trains leaving for Frankfurt? Probably not. So what would a list of all departures be good for. No one would use this tab.

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+1 for questioning the design premises... –  Lisa Tweedie Jun 17 '12 at 23:34
    
Thanks, Lisa.I think that's the problem with good UX. You have to find out, what the user really needs and providing quick and fast solutions to this problem. And this is not so easy since often enough even the users themselves do not know what they need - unless they see it. –  Wolfram Rittmeyer Jun 18 '12 at 8:24
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I know this isn't answering the particular question but consider two things to think about:

You could let the user select the type of transport they are interested in beforehand then just display those types. If they dont care then it probably makes sense to show them altogether? User research should help identify the most common scenario: Whether it is "I just want to get somewhere and I dont care how or "I am stood outside the bus station so I want only busses". - My first instinct would be to provide the users with a choice before seeing the results or an option they can change in the settings.

If this is a specific just in time travel app then I would show all and allow hiding in the settings.

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If you have more tabs you can use a scrollable tab control, although I dont think it is ideal in this situation to split the information in this way. –  Sheff Jun 15 '12 at 8:44
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