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In our Android application we have a list view of items. The items can be members of two different groups, Group 1 and Group 2, but can also be without group. To filter the list to show the items in a specific group we use a segment control, one segment for showing All, one for Group 1 and one for Group 2.

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Now we want to add a third group, Group 3, and the width is becoming a bit stressed. To be honest, the third group will not fit in this structure at all on the smaller screen models.

I am looking for a temporary quick solution for this problem. The idea to include a side bar to specify filtering is already in the pipeline, but it will be some time before we can release a version with this included, and the new group must be visible as soon as possible.

Therefore, I have an idea of adjusting the segment control, enabling a null selection instead of the All filter. That would open up a free space and the new filter group could be included. Problem is though that I'm finding it hard to argument for this solution, mainly because I have not seen it practised elsewhere as I can remember. I have thought about having the segment control scrollable, similar to that of the top shortcut bar in the Android notification view, though that sounds like a more expensive solution.

The segment control is in essence an evolved radio button group/tab control, and making it possible to deselect a tab/button is at first thought not a very attractive idea I admit.

I am looking for feedback on this idea, references to similar solutions, or another cheap solution that would fit into this context.

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2 Answers 2

Could you have a set of checkboxes - one for each group? That way users can select one, some, or none without taking up too much space.

The tab paradigm doesn't seem to be well suited to your use case since you're wanting to display combinations of group memberships rather than a exclusive choices between distinct groups.

Making the tab bar scrollable is a possibility but runs the risk of losing additional tabs offscreen, where users can't see them and may not remember that they exist.

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+1 You're right, it doesn't suit that well... however, the idea is though that the panel should cover scenarios of having no filter selected, or having one filter selected. Combination of filters are not something we look to include, that's pretty much what the All view is for. Checkboxes are an alternative, however they wouldn't really blend too well looking at the aesthetics of the UI. I'm really curious to know of other applications that solves this problem in a similar of what I describe or in another way, and does it well preferably. –  AndroidHustle Dec 17 '12 at 14:59
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As a temporary solution, would you benefit from using icons and smaller subheading text, to reduce the width of the tabs? I'm not very familiar with the SDK options in the Android ecosystem, but perhaps look at something like the iPhone "Phone" screen (has tabs for Favourites, Recents, Contacts, Keypad, Voicemail).

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This is a good suggestion, it's so good that it even happens to be what we already do, for the main navigation panel. =) This is the feature filter panel though, and since we already use the pattern you described for the main navigation we have to use something that distinct it form that. A good suggestion nonetheless. –  AndroidHustle Dec 18 '12 at 10:43
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