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Just wanted to share an interesting aspect I discovered in UICollectionViewCell that makes it very easy to build a game like matching pairs or similar in iOS while writing very minimal code to handle selection and changing the UICollectionView cell on selection and deselection.

UICollectionViewCell comes with a contentView which sits on top of backgroundView and selectedBackgroundView When you have the cell in UICollectionView as selectable then selecting a cell changes the backgroundView of the cell to the selectedBackgroundView and vice versa making it very easy for you to change a the background color of a cell on selection and deselection without messing with the background color of the contentView or changing the contentView in anyway.

Lets see how we can write the code for this. First lets start out by creating a custom Collection View Cell as such:

#import "CollectionViewCell.h"

@implementation CollectionViewCell

- (void)awakeFromNib {
    [super awakeFromNib];
    UILabel *label = [[UILabel alloc] initWithFrame:self.bounds];
    [label setTextAlignment:NSTextAlignmentCenter];
    [self.contentView addSubview:label];
    self.backgroundView = [[UIView alloc] initWithFrame:self.bounds];
    self.backgroundView.backgroundColor = [UIColor lightGrayColor];
    self.selectedBackgroundView = [[UIView alloc] initWithFrame:self.bounds];
    self.selectedBackgroundView.backgroundColor = [UIColor redColor];


In the code above we set the cell’s contentView to have a UILabel, backgroundView of the cell to be new UIView with a background color of light gray and we assigned selectedBackgroundView a UIView of red color. Both the backgroundView and selectedBackgroundView are nil by default but now setting them allows us to change the cell background color on selecting and deselecting the cell.

This helps you avoid adding a lot of logic in your CollectionViewControllers to figure out whether a cell is selected or not and change it on selection. Our CollectionViewController has very little code to handle changing of the background on selection of a cell as seen below:

#import "CollectionViewController.h"
#import "CollectionViewCell.h"

@implementation CollectionViewController

- (NSInteger)numberOfSectionsInCollectionView:(UICollectionView *)collectionView {
    return 1;

- (NSInteger)collectionView:(UICollectionView *)collectionView numberOfItemsInSection:(NSInteger)section {
    return 50;

- (UICollectionViewCell *)collectionView:(UICollectionView *)collectionView cellForItemAtIndexPath:(NSIndexPath *)indexPath {
    CollectionViewCell *cell = [collectionView dequeueReusableCellWithReuseIdentifier:@"Cell" forIndexPath:indexPath];
    UILabel *label = cell.contentView.subviews[0];
    [label setText:[NSString stringWithFormat:@"%li", indexPath.row]];

    return cell;


In our CollectionViewController all we do is specify the number of sections and number of cells in each section and modify the cells label to print the cell’s index to show how the contentView, which remains on the top of these two views, does not get affected on selection and deselection.

This opens up the possibility to have the Collection View manage the state of some parts of your application in regards to hiding and showing certain views in the cell on selection and unselection and you can also have multiple selection enabled on UICollectionView to allow for multiple cells to be selected at a time.

Source code for this is uploaded on here on Github if you want to run the app locally and see how it works.

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Ankur Patel


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Ankur અંકુર Patel

Full Stack Ruby on Rails, Frontend Web and native iOS App Developer | Author of "Hands-on Full-Stack Development with Swift"

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