Tuesday, November 20, 2012

iPhone 5 - Should it have a back button?

As I posted earlier, our workplace moved from BB to iPhone 5.  The iPhone will be the only supported device for corporate e-mail.

As I use the iPhone, I realize that it seems to be missing something very simple that I have gotten used to using on both the BB and the Android.
The home button at the bottom has to serve the purpose of 3 buttons on Android 

Consider these cases:

  • You get an e-mail with a hyperlink.  You click on the hyperlink and it displays the web page in the browser.  Now you want to return to the e-mail.  How do you do it?
  • You are reading Google news.  You click on an item of interest and it opens a new tab.  Now you want to go back to the news stream.  How do you do it?
I cannot find a way to do it in iOS with one click.  Maybe I am missing something but seems like a simple oversight. 

The first versions of iOS did not allow multiple apps to run concurrently I believe.  Maybe there was no need for a back button then.  Seems it is high time for iOS to get this IMHO.

Another issue is the height and width of the iPhone 5 combined with a "back" navigation button at the top of the screen makes it very difficult to have a one-handed operation.  

Android has a back button along with the home button and a button to show the running apps at the bottom of the screen.  In the Google News example above, the back button closes the newly opened tab and takes you back to where you were in the news stream with a single click!  
The back button is integrated into all Android devices at the bottom left.


  1. Press the home button twice to see a list of open apps. Select the last one you accessed. As a former BB user that's how I adapted. I've learned to live without a back button.

    1. @jpeter thanks for the comment. The 2 clicks on the home button and then another tap on the app feels like a workaround when there is space to put a back button that works for this and many other settings with a single click. I am just wondering why there is none. For some cases the back button at the top of the screen works but is a bit of a pain for the taller iPhone 5 to reach with one-handed operation.

    2. Not having a back button is absolutely ridiculous for a phone as sophisticated as the i5. To have to literally close the app and start over is crazy when using the contacts. My first i phone and I'm not impressed at all.

    3. one does not simply live without a back button, this is yet another example of one of those times when apple messes up and it goes grossly unnoticed by the general public.