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Is there any distinction between the key functionality of Android controls: Action bar vs. Toolbar, Spinner vs. Dropdown. To me they seem to be the same and I wonder if there is a reason of introducing new terminology for the controls that already existed.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Spinners and Pickers are effectively attractive drop-down lists, but they both have a slightly different form.

A spinner is more streamlined, and can be found within the action bar to quickly change data sets or views(email account, calendar view, etc).

Spinner within the action bar

A picker takes up more space, and is more like an analog radio dial, in my mind. It's great for step-wise data like Times, Dates, or other gradually increasing/decreasing numbers. Picker within a dialog

I do admit to being a little confused about the names, since you pick from a spinner and spin a picker, but I try not to ponder that too much.

I'm not sure if anything in Android is called a toolbar, but the action bar tends to serve this purpose in most apps. The main functions sit on the action bar, with the rest overflowing when needed. The action bar can change its buttons depending on context, which makes it behave like a toolbar that only shows up when you need it. For instance, when you select an email, you get options to Archive, Delete, Label, Mark as unread, Star, etc.

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Thank you Karen :) I was mostly wondering why Android doesn't call a "spinner" a "dropdown" and and "actionbar" a "toolbar". Dropdown and a toolbar are established terms that everyone knows so I was curious if there was a specific reason to invent new names specifically for the android. – Anna Rouben Jun 18 '12 at 17:09
My assumption was always that they wanted the new terms so that specific details and functionality would be recognizable. Everyone knows what a "toolbar" is: a bunch of buttons in a row. But a "context sensitive action bar" is a distinct subset of that category with clear, defining characteristics. Same with spinner and picker. Perhaps a case of a square being a rectangle, but a rectangle not being a square... – Karen Jun 18 '12 at 18:04
Anna, could you please mark Karen's answer as the answer to your question. – Wolfram Rittmeyer Aug 23 '12 at 7:58

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