Take the 2-minute tour ×
User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The Android Virtual Device Manager uses checkboxes instead of radio buttons for "Snapshot" and "Use Host GPU". However, they are mutually exclusive. Why would they use checkboxes instead of radio buttons?

Admittedly, they do display an error message for Shashank

enter image description here

But they only greyed out the OK for me.

enter image description here

Shouldn't the interface be using radio buttons instead of checkboxes (for those components)?

share|improve this question
Perhaps they intend to remove the mutual exclusiveness in the future, but shouldn't they just update it from radio buttons then instead of using checkboxes now? –  Justin Apr 6 '14 at 4:12

2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This UI is a control interface for AVD command-line tool and is developed to support future versions of it (without need of changing UI itself). Future versions of AVD tool may have different options so UI for these options are constructed automatically every time AVD settings is shown. And since there is no possibility to know how these options are related to each other there are checkboxes (every option could be simply in ON or OFF state) and simple validation algorithm which checks if all the options are correct and shows an error message if they're not (it actually runs the command-line tool, checks if there are errors and shows the output in the UI).

As a result: it may looks like a bad UX solution (and, frankly speaking, it is) but it seems like it's done by the reason I tried to explain above.

share|improve this answer
I don't get why android doesn't just change the ~10-30 (it will probably be somewhere in that range) lines of code needed and put it as an update when needed. –  Justin Apr 6 '14 at 15:21
@Quincunx me neither, but it could be different teams or people or whatever. –  alexeypegov Apr 6 '14 at 18:44

If you can only select one of several options, than radio buttons is the control to use. In this case, check boxes and error message only makes the user confused and annoyed - and that's really bad. You lose the trust of the system, which makes it easier for the user to move to competitor tool.

share|improve this answer
I wonder if there is a way to suggest this to Android.... This is a really simple fix. –  Justin Apr 6 '14 at 4:42
Maybe report it as a bug, here: developer.android.com/support.html ? –  Benny Skogberg Apr 6 '14 at 4:50
There! Submitted: code.google.com/p/android/issues/detail?id=68208 –  Justin Apr 6 '14 at 5:00
Well, is it mandatory to select exactly one of the two options? or can the user leave both checkboxes unchecked? If the two options are not mandatory, I believe replacing the two checkboxes by two radio buttons is not enough. A better alternative, is either use a 3 radio buttons (Snapshot, Use Host GPU, and None), or use a combobox with the same 3 options, so that the user cannot make any mistake at all. –  Padrig Apr 6 '14 at 7:18
Using de-selectable radio buttons would be even more confusing. Most radio button groups that people will encounter allow to have one and exactly one selected. Most UI guidelines support this (see the links I found on another thread: nngroup.com/articles/checkboxes-vs-radio-buttons, msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa511488.aspx, developer.gnome.org/hig-book/3.6/controls-radio-buttons.html.en). So if the 2 checkboxes are both optional and not required, either keep using them, or use 3 radio buttons or a 3-item combobox (Option 1, Option 2, None). –  Padrig Apr 6 '14 at 17:05

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.