If you are familiar with iOS devices, you know that the settings application uses the UISwitch control to show that a parameter is enabled or disabled. This control appears as a toggle switch and even has an animated switch motion that tracks the user's finger as the switch slides from one side to the other.

On my iPad, I did notice an exception to this. A checkbox is used for what I would normally associate a radio button for.

The toggle switch takes up a significant amount of space on an iPhone, which I can put to better use.

I have access to the settings with a user interface from inside my application (and only from my app), and can depart from this practice of using the switch, by replacing it with a checkbox. (This would simply be a custom UIButton.) I am wondering whether there is a downside to doing this from the user experience perspective.

  • If we've answered your question, you can select the best solution so that if anyone comes across the same problem in the future, they know the course of action.
    – dnbrv
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 18:43
  • I didn't want to add my own point of view without getting more inputs on this topic. I think Matt came closest to responding to my question -- what is the downside from the user's perspective. The user may be comfortable with an app that conforms to the Apple HIG, but users have a bigger range of experience to draw on. By the way, a tap on a checkbox is a gesture, in Apple's parlance. (Even though it is called a click when it's done with a mouse.) I'm still hoping to see more discussion on this subject.
    – Jim
    Commented Feb 7, 2012 at 19:38
  • 2
    Ironically, Apple have now introduced their own checkbox for UITableViews. Check out: https://developer.apple.com/library/prerelease/content/samplecode/Accessory/Introduction/Intro.html
    – Reefwing
    Commented Jul 18, 2016 at 22:35

4 Answers 4


I think this has a lot more to do with the look and feel of your app.

If your settings is using apple's default styling then you should definitely keep everything consistent. No point giving your users two ways of yes/no.

Even apple uses UI styles that are not in the HIG, e.g. (Settings > Notifications > Mail > Alert Style).

A lot of apps use custom elements to toggle. E.g. Stop/Play icon, Star/Unstar, Heart/Unheart.

So - Pick one way, use it consistently, and maintain fluid styling with the rest of you app.

Lastly, if you use a checkbox, definitely do not use Android's colours and styling.

  • Great!! Guidelines are just Guidelines for a reason; See also Checkbox vs Switch (long story short, Checkbox wins with many reasons, refer to link for more).
    – Top-Master
    Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 7:12
  • And don't worry; iOS-Apps won't be rejected just for having Check-box(es).
    – Top-Master
    Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 7:15

First off, I'm not sure why you think that replacing an iOS switch with a check-box will free up a "significant amount of space" and what "better use" you could have for it because a switch is at most 3-times as wide as a checkbox.

Secondly, iOS Human Interface Guidelines are very clear on the use of controls. They say people should interact in "gestures, not clicks" and they don't mention checkboxes anywhere in the iOS UI elements usage guidelines section. When it comes to mutually exclusive choices, the HIG offer switch used for a choice of 2 states, picker used to choose one of a short list, and segmented control used to change views (tabs of a form).

Therefore, it's better to disregard any exceptions you may encountered and follow the guidelines.

  • It is equivalent in the way that it is used. For example, if you were choosing if you wanted notifications for something via email, and/or mail, and/or via phone, these options would be broken into separate table elements rather than along the same row. Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 19:32
  • Segmented controls are for use of separate views only, not just choosing from more than 2 options. Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 19:34
  • @MattRockwell: Thanks for the corrections. I overlooked a few things while skimming the HIG.
    – dnbrv
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 19:54

Replacing the switch with a checkbox would go against the iOS convention that people are used to. As Apple states in the Apple iOS HIG:

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A switch presents two mutually exclusive choices or states (used in table views only).

This is what people are comfortable with and are expecting to see. They are used to the way things work in iOS and it is important to carry these types of practices across all iOS applications.

  • Thanks, Matt. As far as using the switch for adjusting application settings, I'm a little concerned about the balance between the text size in my setting label and that of the switch. This becomes more pronounced when I localize to languages that inherently require more text to say the same thing. Choosing the control is just one aspect of the "feng-shui", and it's subjective. But I guess Jobs had more experience in these transcendental matters. No decision here yet. I would like to gather more ideas, first.
    – Jim
    Commented Jan 23, 2012 at 20:58

Consider the case of someone accepting terms and conditions. I was considering if a switch button should actually be used instead of a checkbox. The conclusive decision I had to make in the end was, does a green side of a switch(i.e on-state) represents 'YES' It is like ON/OFF representing YES/NO I could not convince myself with, an 'on-state' button for saying 'YES' at least intuitively.

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