So I am designing a feature for our app that allows users to pause, resume, and cancel their app's updates. I came up with a design that allows for the user to tap on the icon to pause/resume and click an X if they want to cancel. I am not sure how the best way to visually indicate that you can tap on the icon to pause.

enter image description here

As you can see, the pause/play button would be hard to notice on some app designs. Also, I noticed that apple shows the "pause" symbol in the pause state rather than the resume state, which may cause some confusion among apple users.

enter image description here

I thought about just adding the pause button next to the cancel, but I wanted to avoid any accidental tapping since this is mobile and the screen space is limited. Where is the best place to add this pause button to prevent any user error/confusion?

Update: I decided to use Apple's design to show which app is paused/ongoing. One question, how would the user know that pressing the icon will pause the app? Is there any indicator I can add to let them know it is tappable?

enter image description here

  • Can the user restart an update from here if they cancel it?
    – Izquierdo
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 17:05
  • They would have to start from the beginning, but yes, they can restart it
    – Gene
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 17:40
  • Why would you Pause an Update? I would rather Go for the Steam way. They allow to Reorder Downloads. Feature: "Update this App First cause I want to use it." Apart from that you could allow pausing all Updates.
    – peq
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 18:28
  • The cancel (X) by itself is plain enough. Why not show the play (triangle) and pause (=) symbols equally clearly as well, at right?
    – Steve
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 21:54
  • @Steve I guess my concern was that they would be too close to the cancel button so there might be some usability issues with accidentally tapping the cancel when you meant to pause and vice versa. (this is for mobile) I can try adding the play/pause on the left side and see how that looks. Thanks for the suggestion
    – Gene
    Commented Aug 4, 2022 at 0:07

1 Answer 1


I think the "pause" icon is OK, just like Apple uses it. Think of old VCRs and tape recorders (as well as some modern devices like music stations and sequencers). Once you press pause, you have to press pause again to resume (which is exactly what Apple does). Often the play/pause actions are in the same button. So it's a commonly accepted behavior to have a pause icon to resume a download.

And this brings me to what I think is the problem. The metaphor play=download does not translate. Pause always means the same thing, and the symbol is recognized by its semantic meaning. On the other hand, play means "to play", while download is something completely different. So I think you can just use a different symbol to convey that you can start a download.

EDIT: To answer your comment, what I meant is to change the play icon and use a more common download icon, such as this one enter image description here

  • I agree that that the play does not = download, I changed my design to be more consistent with the message I am trying to convey. How would a user know that the icon can be tapped to pause if there is no play? See edit for details
    – Gene
    Commented Aug 3, 2022 at 18:01

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