Is there a "good" way to show time in an iOS app (and more in general in apps/website) ?

Is 8:35:29 better than 08:35:29 ?

Format in different languages

Moreover, I noticed that if I set my iPhone language to italian, it shows the time WITH a 0

enter image description here

and if I change the language to spanish, it shows the time WITHOUT a 0.

enter image description here

What it depends on?

  • I personally prefer with zero. Then all the hours and minutes are nicely layerd and she shorter/longer strings interrupt the view less – BlueWizard May 8 '16 at 17:54

I'm not aware of any studies for this but I would say there are a couple of possible answers.

If you're displaying time in 12hour format (i.e. 10:00AM and 10:00PM) then you could easily display hours below 10 as a single digit.

On the other hand, if you're displaying time in a 24hour format (i.e. 10:00 and 22:00) then you're more likely to find that a leading zero is more acceptable - it also makes it easier to be certain that you're seeing 06:00 and not 16:00 with the first digit obscured for some reason ("6:00").

Having said all of that, in an iOS app, wouldn't it be better to make use of the user's system settings and let them sort out their preferred display style?

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  • just added more info on the question – thefabbulus May 5 '16 at 11:08

Why not use the default/existing pattern of iOS? They are all single digit below 10; with this the user doesn't see anything different than what the system itself shows to him/her. Which also reduces user's cognitive load.

On the other hand. How many iOS users change their default time settings, if at all there is an option to do that? I'm sure they will be quite little.

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  • just added more info on the question – thefabbulus May 5 '16 at 11:08
  • @fabersky follow the default pattern, because majority of users are already familiar to it. – DPS May 5 '16 at 11:09
  • that's the idea. but how could I know the default pattern for every language? – thefabbulus May 5 '16 at 11:10
  • @fabersky check your user-base; and give prominence to the one from which you get maximum downloads. – DPS May 5 '16 at 11:14

Visually, it'd be more appealing to see if there is a leading zero before a single digit number. The digital numbering system 'naturally' goes with this style, and it feels like there'd be more symmetric perfection when sets of two digits are chained together (Image1) instead of a 1-2-2 pattern (Image2).


Image 1


enter image description here

Symmetry, familiarity & closure would always remain among the base factors of good UX. That little ocd loving part in most humans account to this.

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  • just added more info on the question – thefabbulus May 5 '16 at 11:07

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