I always wonder why Andoid has those spinner buttons which, when pressed, have the content of the associated text box hidden by the finger of the user. Users will never know when to finish pressing the button. They have to stop, look and then correct the value over and over. This is very time consuming.

Android Spinner Buttons

While I want to keep the functionality (pressing the button or entering numbers), is there a better replacement of these spinner buttons?

The context of the spinner could be anything, my question is more generic. However, they always have one thing in common: the user is already trained to see the number in a specific format (like hh:mm for time or for an IP address) and it is important to know the exact value which was entered (e.g. it matters whether you're alerted on 1 o'clock or 2 o' clock and it matters to which IP address you connect.

  • What is the context of the application? Is it important for users to know the exact number selection? Can this element be replaced by a slider instead?
    – circuitry
    Jan 12, 2014 at 19:53
  • 1
    I have updated my answer. A slider might be ok if there's an additional textbox above the slider(s) which always shows the exact number(s). Jan 12, 2014 at 20:07

2 Answers 2


This is how iOS7 deals with number input in similar situations. This is nice because the user can see what they're doing as they choose a number. The use of faded numbers at the top and bottom of the component indicate that the content is draggable, and the use of bold centered text is used to indicate the user's current choice.

Alarm Timer

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    The number picker widget on devices which support the Holo theme (api 11+) has something like this, where you can fling, or select the top/bottom number to set.
    – ataulm
    Feb 25, 2014 at 21:33

I believe the modern alarm clock on android implements an interface where clicking each of the subparts will show all the different options (don't have a charged android device at hand). So when you wish to change the time you first get a full screen interface showing options 1-12 and next an full screen interface with 5,10,15,etc. and lastly PM vs AM. It works quite well if the options are slightly limited, but with something like an IP address it's not as nice.

And btw, I believe with the spinner model the idea is that you can drag you finger around the screen after you start pushing the button, thus revealing the field itself, but not entirely sure of this.

  • Indeed, one can move the finger after clicking. I'm using Andoid for one year now and didn't notice that... Do you think people are generally aware of this feature? Then, maybe I was just too stupid and i can still use the default spinner. Jan 12, 2014 at 20:30

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