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I have an Android application where the users can create different kinds of content in different screens of the app. All content is synced to the server in a background thread. Normally this happens instantly, when new data is created, but if the device is offline, unsynced content can exist for a longer time.

To make the user aware of that (so he doesn't wonder when comparing app's content and server's content via web interface), I thought of showing an indicator somewhere in the app.

I am not sure, how/where I should show such an indicator. I cannot show the indicator in the action bar, because it is used for different things in many screens.

Ideas so far

  • Show indicator as a kind of a batch on the navigation drawer symbol ("hamburger" icon) but that would become quite small.
  • Use a notification, but as the indicator will go away by itself, as soon as synchronization is done, that seems as kind of an abuse of the notification idea.
  • Show colored line at the top or bottom of the action bar, but that isn't self explanatory.
  • I vote for notification. That is the most transparent way to explain the situation. – Frantisek Kossuth Aug 1 '17 at 15:14
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What i've seen many apps do is show a gray or black colored line on the bottom of the action bar as you suggested. But also, they went a step further and wrote text on that line indicating that there is unsynced data (or any other error).

I believe that is a great way to do it because it will still look good as a UI element, and explain the problem to the user efficiently.

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  • Thanks for your answer. Could you please point me to one or two of the apps you mentioned, so I have a look at them? – Ridcully Aug 1 '17 at 13:22
  • Sorry for the late reply, but I believe the facebook app does so when you are on your feed and disconnect from the network. (at least it does in the iOS version). There is also the music streaming app "Anghami" it shows the error bar in the android version for sure. – plsakr Aug 3 '17 at 19:25
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I think it's best to notify the user immediately of connection loss if they expect their data to be synchronised automatically. Also, let them know you were able to save their changes locally and will upload them as soon as they are back online.

(See example interface)

Example picture showing a warning banner

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