Get time cycle type 12-hour or 24-hour

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Checking whether the current date contains the symbol for AM or PM


NSDateFormatter *formatter = [[NSDateFormatter alloc] init];
[formatter setLocale:[NSLocale currentLocale]];
[formatter setDateStyle:NSDateFormatterNoStyle];
[formatter setTimeStyle:NSDateFormatterShortStyle];
NSString *dateString = [formatter stringFromDate:[NSDate date]];
NSRange amRange = [dateString rangeOfString:[formatter AMSymbol]];
NSRange pmRange = [dateString rangeOfString:[formatter PMSymbol]];
BOOL is24h = (amRange.location == NSNotFound && pmRange.location == NSNotFound);

Requesting the time cycle type from NSDateFormatter


NSString *formatStringForHours = [NSDateFormatter dateFormatFromTemplate:@"j" options:0 locale:[NSLocale currentLocale]];
NSRange containsA = [formatStringForHours rangeOfString:@"a"];
BOOL is24h = containsA.location == NSNotFound;

This uses a special date template string called “j” which according to the ICU Spec

[…] requests the preferred hour format for the locale (h, H, K, or k), as determined by the preferred attribute of the hours element in supplemental data. […] Note that use of ‘j’ in a skeleton passed to an API is the only way to have a skeleton request a locale’s preferred time cycle type (12-hour or 24-hour).

That last sentence is important. It “is the only way to have a skeleton request a locale’s preferred time cycle type”. Since NSDateFormatter and NSCalendar are built on the ICU library, the same holds true here.


The second option was derived from this answer.

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