Android owners with 24-hour time have a new, easier way to set appointment times

Military time has its advantages, but Android has always had a disadvantage

As someone who was born and raised in the good old United States of America, I love using 24-hour time. It’s a long story, but to the point of the one at hand I find it a bit disturbing that many Android phones don’t display the AM or PM meaning unless you dig in a bit – that kind of stuff defeats the whole point of clear information that you can get from, for example, a good smart clock. Anyway, users of 24-hour clocks on Android have for the longest time had to deal with a somewhat clunky interface when setting times for calendar appointments, appointments, and the like. But thanks to some work from Google’s Material Design researchers, that interface may soon be due for a makeover.


Until recently, when setting the time in 24-hour format, users had to select the hour on a two-ring analog dial with hours 1 to 12 on the outer ring and 13 to 24 on the inner one. Once users select the hour, the interface advances to the minute setting. However, those with bigger fingers will have known the frustration of touching the wrong hour because the targets, especially on the inner bezel, were just too close together – they’d have to tap back to the hour field and then reselect the hour at which she actually wanted to post.


Android has presented this interface in one form or another for many years. We even saw an example from 2013 via the old Google Operating System blog that reversed the positioning of the hour rings.

24 hour dials material design 1

The Material Design team attempted to address the accessibility issue of the 24-hour two-ring dial in 2020 by introducing a single-ring dial that only displays the even-numbered hours between 2 and 24. This was part of a wider redesign of the time-picking user interfaces and while the rest of the set hung on, users of the 24-hour clock were demanding the old two-ring dial back – apparently they weren’t too happy about having to distract from the placement of the odd hours.

Researchers decided to dig into the problem with a thorough but limited study, in which 50 people underwent timing tests using a variety of dial-based designs — of the 50 original concepts, four made it to the candidate stage — followed by surveys.

24 hour dials material design 2

The team concluded that no 24-hour dial design was intuitive enough for users to accurately and reliably set the time. Given the rarity of such a design on physical clocks, this really shouldn’t be surprising.

That’s why the Material Design team has moved to introduce a digital input option – users can tap a keyboard button on the watch face prompt box to access it – that will live alongside the existing analog watch face for 24-hour users. While the team collects data on user behavior, the company may decide to default the time settings to digital input.

It remains to be seen if there’s a future without the 24-hour watch face on Android, but I, in my reluctance, wouldn’t stand to see analog watch faces disappear either, so… there’s that.