Why no global BACK button/swipe motion?

  • I recently flashed Ubuntu Touch onto a Pinephone and was quite impressed how advanced it generally is. One thing however that is beyond me is why there is no global screen button or swipe motion allotted for "going back", such as on Android. For reference, a post from earlier this year that tackled this very question but kind of went nowhere: swipe to go back

    I understand that, in theory, you could leave it to the app developers to each (hopefully!) implement some kind of go-back functionality within their specific apps, but a global back button/swipe motion would make life way easier and put the user back in control over badly designed workflows in apps. Reaching a dead end in any given app, swiping to close it (two motions) and re-opening it to get back to where one step BACK would have taken you (for example the list view in a video app liked Dtube), seem like tedious workaround to be honest, not to mention having to remember exactly where you were in the app. Would it be complicated to build such a global go-back feature and make it work in existing apps?

  • I don't recall any problem using < to back in most of the apps I use, with the single exception of Morph browser, on my Nexus 5.

  • @Username
    Hi the problem is that swiping from top, bottom, left and right are already assigned to global actions resp. dropdown menu, app specific feature, launcher and opened apps.

    It's reakky up to the app designer to come up with something correct.

    Regarding the app you mentioned, I bet it's a webapp and yeah some website are poorly designed, but other solution will degrade the UX for everyone because of specific issue with poorly designed apps/websites...

  • DTube is indeed a webapp. But it has a hamburger menu (the three horizontal stripes) in the upper left corner to navigate the site. No need to exit and reenter the application.

  • Thanks for the feedback. Quickly answering to your question might be:

    • The OS is designed to work on phones, tablets and desktops.
    • Global back button is working in-app. If it doesn't, pleas file a bug report
    • There is no «OS back» as the system is designed with a different paradigm (aka «we are not Android»). You choose where to go depending on what you want to do: Launcher, Dash, other apps, etc...

    Have you go through the welcome tutorial that show the basic OS use?

  • While I understand that this would be app-specific, I would just like to throw one idea out there.

    It would be great if a swipe gesture that started at the bottom of the screen and exited anywhere on the left side would work as a "back" gesture at least in default apps. I have no idea how hard it would be to implement, but it would be a welcome alternative to the sometimes hard to reach button positioned at the top left of the screen. 🙂

    If this is easy (or made easy) to implement I imagine it could catch on in apps that depend on the back button, especially Morph browser and web apps!

  • @potet
    When starting a swipe from the top, the app looses focus.
    A swipe from the bottom could be handled by the app, but it will be up to each app developer to use something like that.
    And it's far more complex than using a simple button.
    Developers can easily add alternative features if they wish...

  • @CiberSheep said in Why no global BACK button/swipe motion?:

    welcome tutorial that show the basic OS use

    Huh! Interesting. Where would one find that?

  • @Moem It should trigger just after the welcome wizard (on the first install)

  • @CiberSheep
    Thank you. I guess I've either decided to take it later (and then never done it, because apparently there is no way) or done so and forgotten.

  • @AppLee My suggestion was from the bottom, not from the top. I agree that it would have to stay within the current framework, and from the top would make no sense for usability either.

    As for it being more complex than a button - I see the point from a developing perspective, but I disagree from a user perspective. The back button is usually found on the top left, which is the least accessible point of the screen.

    Assuming this is a feature that would be useful but is difficult to implement, would it not be possible to write a standardized function of sorts that app developers could choose to implement in their apps at their own free will?

    If it would be good for users but complex for developers, maybe it could be possible to aid the developers by giving them some sort of tool box. But of course, I don't claim to have any expertise here - i simply think Username's concerns are valid, and made a suggestion for a possible solution. 🙂

  • @CiberSheep said in Why no global BACK button/swipe motion?:

    @Moem It should trigger just after the welcome wizard (on the first install)

    I have never seen it (because I did not install the OS,) nor can I find it with a DDG search. Can you point me to it please?

  • @cliffcoggin the tutorial shoould have started after selecting time zone, language, etc on the first run. If not, that's a bug: could you fill an issue here?:

  • @CiberSheep said in Why no global BACK button/swipe motion?:

    @cliffcoggin the tutorial shoould have started after selecting time zone, language, etc on the first run. If not, that's a bug: could you fill an issue here?:

    @CiberSheep & @NeoTheThird : there is a 'UT app' or Welcome app which, I believe, is installed by default. It has a menu with some useful links, but none of these point to a beginner tutorial. Could this be added?

  • @potet
    Sure having an example or something that can be easily integrated will help.

    I find the return button easy to access, but I understand it might annoy some people.
    If someone make such gesture easily reusable then I guess it will get some promotion here on the forum.

  • @CiberSheep As I mentioned, I did not install or set up the OS so I would not have seen any tutorial, hence my question. I think it would be better to start a separate topic to avoid deflecting this one.

  • a swipe from the bottom could open a sub menu with a back button as well as showing the open tabs. this might work with other apps as well.

  • It is not like a global back command would suddenly solve this problem; every app would need to implement what 'back' means to it. The inconsistent nature of what back means on an Android system is always a frustration to me, and I think it solves fewer problems than it causes.

    Sure in Morph it would be very obvious what back does, but I'd argue that an option to move the navigation bar to the bottom edge would be more useful. Half of the apps I regularly use don't have an obvious 'back' action; what should 'back' do when I'm viewing maps in Pure Maps, or when typing into the calculator? I agree with others that each app should consider this as oppsed to forcing a global option.

    Back and Home are UI hangovers that have been improved away by the Lomiri UI. ☺

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