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Idea: Use a ”time wheel” for time interval selection everywhere

asked 2014-03-07 22:01:15 +0300

ssahla gravatar image

updated 2014-03-09 16:13:27 +0300

The Clock and Calendar apps have a handy and intuitive wheel for selecting time. This kind of wheel selector could be put to use in other places also.

Situation now: When selecting for example email sync interval, device lock time, or display sleep time, you are given a list of options.

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As you can see, in different contexts you get different, and somewhat arbitrary, options for the time interval. You can’t choose a time that is not in the options; for example, you can’t have the device lock activate in 1 minute. There are inconsistencies: In device lock ”not in use” is the first option, whereas in exchange sync ”off” is the last option, and in display sleep, there is no ”never” option at all.

Now here’s a mockup of an alternative: a wheel selector.

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Up is off (not in use). When you roll a bit clockwise, you get 0 minutes (”always up-to-date” or ”no delay” or similar, depending on the context). Further clockwise, you can select any number of minutes. The scale changes when you roll further, so after 1 hour it changes at 1 hour intervals, after 1 day at 1 day intervals, or something like that. (Note: don't look too closely at the time marks in the mockup and how they are placed, it's just a sketch.)

The scale of the wheel can be adjusted for different contexts (for display sleep, you could adjust in seconds up to one minute and then in minutes up to one hour, etc.). (Also, if needed, it could be open-ended: If you roll clockwise past 360 degrees, the scale changes to include longer times, and to get back to zero you need to roll back.)

The time wheel would work consistently the same way everywhere. Still, it would adapt to different contexts with different time scales. It could be used as a contextual menu (a wheel wouldn’t take more space on screen than the list of options) or a separate screen (where a pull-left gesture would accept the selected time).

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Honestly, i LOVE your suggestions very much!!! That style to set time related stuff is funny, and yes could be put it everywhere needed!!! good!

gordon_pcb_designer ( 2014-03-07 22:13:01 +0300 )edit

SailfishOS would indeed benefit from a different kind of picker for time interval than a time. For a basic timer it could be just a minute hand and once you've rolled a whole cycle, perhaps a circle would appear inside or around the wheel to indicate one full hour, then another and so on.

fercen ( 2014-03-08 11:27:21 +0300 )edit

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answered 2014-03-08 11:48:01 +0300

nodevel gravatar image

updated 2014-03-08 11:48:11 +0300

While I understand the idea, I think it might get rather confusing. The advantage of the current wheel is that it is always the same - it's the clock afterall.

Here are my main concerns.

  • Tell me how you would show the Twice a day option on the wheel.
  • It would be different in each app, so you would have to add the labels in the Clock application as well (people would not guess it is 12-hour clock without the labels), which would destroy its simple beauty.
  • The idea of the wheel is proportionality - if you wanted to have a 1 day option, the 15 seconds option would be impossible to find.

With such concerns in place, I think these dialogs should stay as they are.

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Thanks for these observations. Here are some answers:

First point: 12 hours.

Second: You have a point there. But while adding labels to the clock would make it less minimalistic, less elegant maybe, it would actually make it easier to understand for first-timers.

Third: Not necessarily. You could have one quarter of the wheel as 0s...1min, two next quarters 1min...1h, last quarter 1h...1d. (For example.) (Just to be sure I'm making myself clear, my idea is that the scale changes when rolling further clockwise.) Besides, it's a rare case where you need to have the scale ranging from seconds to days; email sync for instance can start at minimum increments of 1 minute, because if you wanted 15 seconds you can as well select always-up-to-date.

ssahla ( 2014-03-08 11:56:23 +0300 )edit

Goes to show that tastes differ. I really don't like the whole wheel UI-concept, would much rather have some logical list of numbers. Then again, I also hate analogue watches and have a hard time reading the time on them, as opposed to digital 24h readouts.

Ozymandias ( 2014-03-08 12:55:57 +0300 )edit

I'd certainly like a time wheel better than the current context menu stuff. As shown in the OP's mockups, it seems like the idea of this wheel is that it would be roughly log-scale, not linear (the choices in the current context menus aren't uniformly spaced either). Assuming a log-scale wheel, the answers are 1) 12h is somewhere between 1d and 1h, but closer to 1d, 2) a log-scale wheel does not have to be different between apps, though labels are definitely needed, and 3) on a log-scale wheel, 15 seconds is just as easy to find as 48h (though something like 48h 15 seconds would not be, but few people need that).

ovekaaven ( 2014-03-08 15:47:45 +0300 )edit
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Asked: 2014-03-07 22:01:15 +0300

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Last updated: Mar 09 '14