Designing mobile applications is something I find extremely interesting, but I have recently become more interested in the UI element of a drop down menu for IOS applications. It does seem to always be the same consistent UI treatment. Some cases it is the "picker" UI element which is a scrollable, or sometimes it is treated as to send the user to the next page as in a tree UI functionality.

Would you say the picker is a more user-friendly UI element to use as a drop down menu?

I am currently working on an app that may have users sharing a device, so for easy access, they can switch between users on the top menu in order to adjust the content below to be specific to that user.

  • 1
    Hi chester, can you clarify your question? The answer could depend on a number of things. Such as; is it the iPhone or iPad you are building for? The picker is more likely to be used in a popover from the top menu in an Ipad rather than iphone.
    – Jay
    Jul 12, 2012 at 14:14

3 Answers 3


For simple cases (a short list, single selection, no filtering), a picker control is usually better since it's quicker to use (in-page, less hassle).

For more complicated cases (a longer list, optionally multiple selection, optional filtering, optional custom cells), a separate screen with a table list view is usually better since it's more powerful and more future-proof (will handle the complexity as your app grows).


It depends on the real estate that is required.

For eg :

On iPhone Settings > icloud > Accounts > Payment information > form

They use both of the models that you have mentioned

In-page picker for Expiry date and Tree style picker for Country selection.

Because :

The country selection needed some header information and its better to see the country list as long as possible.

On the other hand the expiry date picker does not need any real estate and has very few options to be selected.


For longer lists, I prefer the second model (where you get a scrollable page of options). It can also be easier to use one-handed so might be applicable in certain situations even with a shorter list.

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