What to tell android users who prefer a back button?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by ElectronGuru, Oct 8, 2014.

  1. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Sep 5, 2013
    Oregon, USA
    Back in the 80s, operating systems were a new experience and you accepted whatever they had. By the 90s however, people became accustomed to certain features. Near the top of the list for windows users was the two button mouse. Sit a person down new to mac and they freaked out for lack of a right click. Eventually, apple added the functionality, in the form of contextual menus, and USB so any PC mouse could be connected for the full right click experience.

    In the early 00s, the pattern repeated. Smart phone platforms were new and we accepted whatever they had. And in the near decade since, people have become accustomed to certain features. Last month I was swapping pics with another guest at a restaurant and the subject turned to our tech. And almost before anything else, he blurted out that he could never go iPhone - for lack of a back button. Then last night shopping at Target, found a clerk with a store 'PDA' for a stock check. It was an iphone in a bar code scanning special case. It had been issued the day before and he was struggling. 'No back button' he cried!

    This begs a few questions: 1) when will apple start offering this functionality 2) what would/should it look like, and 3) what do we tell android users in the mean time who genuinely want to or have to switch?
  2. dotme macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2011
    One click on home button to go to home screen, two clicks to switch apps, and swipe from left to right to go back. So I don't think a back button is needed.

    It's a little like asking what to tell people who switch from manual/stick shift to an automatic about the lack of a clutch pedal. Not needed...
  3. tgi macrumors 65816


    Aug 29, 2012
    I'd take swipe from the left over a back button any day.
  4. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    Maybe never.
    It would look like Android
    They learned how to use an Android phone, when they previously didn't know how. Repeat the same learning process for iPhones. It's not that tough.
  5. greytmom macrumors 68040


    Jun 23, 2010
    I can't answer first or second question. I don't feel the need for a back button.

    But with the third question, I'm not sure I understand what you are asking. Why tell Android users anything? If they really want to or have to switch to iOS, then they will just do so, and get used to not having it. It's not like you can promise that the function will eventually be available.
  6. its Dale macrumors 6502

    Apr 8, 2013
    LA California
    came from 2 previous androids and I believe a back button is so convenient, because every app on iphone has a different method/button placement to go back. if they were all consistently on the same part of the screen then it would be easier and no extra button would be needed
  7. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
    I have no idea how it's used now but I'll always remember an article from a few years back about how different developers use the 'back' button in different ways. So the end result was that you never knew exactly what that button would do unless you've memorized exactly how every app works.

    I'll take the consistency of the 'home' button over that any day.

    (I know that was a long time ago but I don't see what could have changed between then and now. Did Google crack down on developers over this? That doesn't seem like them.)
  8. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Jun 14, 2010
    When I tried an S4 last year I seem to remember the "back button" not being terribly consistent in just exactly what I went "back" to when I tapped it... It was kind of frustrating due to the lack of consistency from app to app. I may be misremembering though.

    As to "what to tell people" I'd say the functionality exists, generally with soft buttons within individual apps, or via double-tap of the home button in terms going back to the previous app.

    But I'd also bring up the variability of what people might expect a back button to do. Should it go back to the previous app? Or within an app do they want to go to the previous field? Or previous page? Or previous tab? Previous Mailbox? Previous email? What standard behavior would they say it should have and would everyone else want the same behavior?
  9. scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    When it makes sense to do so.

    This can't be answered until it makes sense to add this functionality. Right now, it doesn't make much sense.

    Nothing. iOS is a different operating system and a different UI from Android. If they want Android features and an Android UI, then that's where they need to stay. A person really should only switch platforms if there is a compelling reason for them to do so, one that overcomes not having something like a back button as a drawback.

    This is the same mistake that people trying to convert to OS X do: they want OS X to work like Windows. Well, it's not Windows. it's a different OS with a different workflow. If the learning curve is too steep that the benefits of switching don't overcome it, then you shouldn't switch.

    If a person doesn't want to switch to iOS because it lacks a back button, fine, there's nothing wrong with that. This is exactly why there is, and always should be, more than one platform out there, and why it's perfectly okay for someone to stick with what works for them.

    I used to be one of those zealots that felt that everyone needs to see how awesome this thing I'm using is, and that everyone should switch to it. But I've learned in that time that getting people to switch just for the sake of switching almost certainly ensures that they're gonna hate it. So, I'm not actively trying to convert anymore, unless it's clear that this person is frustrated with what they have now, and something different will work better for them.
  10. Shadowbech macrumors 601

    Oct 18, 2011
    Planet iPhone
    Going from 4S to the S4 and S5. I was so used to the back button. But now that I have a 6 Plus, I always end up searching for a back button. Especially when browsing on the web.
  11. Cloudsurfer macrumors 65816


    Apr 12, 2007
    It's funny that you say this. From time to time I'm using the Galaxy S5 of a colleague of mine, and it irritates me to death that I have to tap a 'back' button to go back one page, instead of pressing a virtual button in the top left corner of the screen, which I'm used to.

    Consider this: back in the day, Apple had to conform to the habits of Windows users because they had a significantly lower market share. They had to listen to the people in order the pull them over to Mac.

    Today, iPhone (and iPad) have a much bigger user base. People already know how an iPhone works and are either fine with it or not. Adding a back button will likely have limited effect on pulling people over to an iOS device.

    My 2 cents.
  12. dljeffery macrumors regular

    Aug 9, 2011
    Issaquah, WA
    In Safari, the back button is exposed by tapping the status bar, which causes the bottom toolbar to be displayed (if it isn't already, that is), giving you a back and forward button.

    But even easier is to swipe from the left edge of the screen to go to back, or swipe from the right edge of the screen to go forward. No need to tap on buttons at all, plus a very natural feeling motion to go back and forth.
  13. stasha macrumors 6502

    Sep 18, 2014
  14. CoilTap macrumors regular

    Sep 19, 2014
    Hopefully never.

    Hopefully nothing.

    Get over it or stick with Android.
  15. bunnicula macrumors 68040


    Jul 23, 2008
    I don't tell them anything. They use their preferred device, I use mine.
  16. 12vElectronics macrumors 68040


    Jul 19, 2013
    I hate back buttons. But everyone can use what they want.
  17. aPple nErd macrumors 68030

    aPple nErd

    Feb 12, 2012
    Jailbreaks/IOS Hacks
    What to tell them? They need to get out of the time warp and get use to less buttons... The back button seems so cumbersome and annoying. Whenever I use my friends gs3, I always accidentally press it and it's very annoying having that button.
  18. Shadowbech macrumors 601

    Oct 18, 2011
    Planet iPhone
    Oh thanks, I didn't know about the swipe
  19. legioxi macrumors 6502a

    Mar 2, 2013
    Not sure why there is any confusion. Swiping left to right just feels natural. And if all else fails there is normally a navigation pane at the top with the back button.
  20. AaronRuggiere macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2014
    Preach It! :apple:
  21. ttmrn macrumors regular

    Oct 6, 2014
    so i was like reading thru this thread, n im like...

    wtf is this elusive "back" button?
  22. myscrnnm macrumors 65816


    Sep 16, 2014
    Seattle, WA
    What? This seems like a step backwards. The whole point of smartphones made since the iPhone has been that you can contextualize menus so you wouldn't have a bunch of buttons. And as it turns out, you already have as many as three ways to go back on an iPhone anyway:

    1. The home button will take you BACK to the home screen
    2. Back buttons are found in the top left corner of almost every app
    3. More apps are supporting swipe to go back when possible

    Apple got it right when they introduced gestures with the original iPhone. Onscreen buttons are a relic from a cursor-controlled GUI. There's simply no good reason to have a back button on devices that we control with our fingers.
  23. urkel macrumors 68030

    Nov 3, 2008
    How about they implement a Swipe left on Touch ID Pad gesture.
  24. lyceumHQ macrumors 6502a


    Aug 4, 2010
    Nothing. They prefer a back button.

    Having had iPhones since the 3G I find the back button strange because I'm now so used to double pressing the home bottom and just going back to a previous app that way. Whenever I have to use my friends android phones I always forget the back button and automatically double tap the home button.

    Some people prefer android. Just as some prefer windows. Why would you want to try and convince them something is better simply because you prefer it?

    If an android user wanted a iPhone I highly doubt the lack of back button would stop them. Just as I doubt the lack of double tap home screen would stop me switching to android should I genuinely want too.
  25. dajazz macrumors member

    Mar 24, 2011
    I just came from Android, actually I've been on Android since the very first day with the T-Mobile G1....funny enough after a week with the 6+ I completely forgot about the back button on my old HTC and Android phones. People adopt and change to whatever they have so its no big deal

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