Defending Android’s Hardware Buttons

Steven Van Bael makes the case for Android’s hardware Back button. Only fair to give the other side a voice.

Here’s one thing I don’t like about the Android Back button that I’ve never seen a counterargument for: it presumes that you, the user, remember the activity stack. If you turn your phone on and you’re looking at a web page in the browser, if you don’t remember what you were doing immediately before opening the web page you’re looking at, you have no idea where you’re going to go if you hit the Back button. Could be another app, could be another web page, could be the home screen. And if hitting the Back button takes you somewhere you didn’t want to go, there’s no Forward button to reverse it. It’s like leaving a breadcrumb trail in the dark — you have to remember where the breadcrumbs are because you can’t see them. Drove me nuts.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011