One of the things we Android fans have grown very fond of over the years has been the universal Back button that helps us navigate between web pages, apps and much more. However, we’ve also found that the Back button can be somewhat unpredictable in different settings, which can be an annoying issue for a feature that’s so central to the Android experience. To improve this situation, Android user Chris Lacy has put together a detailed proposal for making the Back button work more consistently and effectively across different use cases.

Lacy starts by explaining how the Back button performs three main functions: It takes you back from the app you’re now using to the last app you used, it helps you navigate backward through the application’s view stack, and it dismisses modal UI. While these are all important functions, they can be confusing if you’re expecting the Back button to perform one of them when in reality it performs another instead. Lacy’s solution to this is to alter the look of the on-screen Android Back button to match the action you’ll take if you press it.

So for example, Lacy writes that “when a Back press will take you out of the current app, change the appearance of the back button to point down.” When dismissing modal UI, meanwhile, Lacy suggests changing the Back button to an “X” to indicate that pressing it will delete all modal UI that’s on the screen.

This proposal does raise some questions, of course, since more casual Android users might need to get used to a constant on-screen button that changes to three different shapes depending on the action it’s taking. It’s also the case that this proposal would do nothing for Android devices that have Back buttons that aren’t digitally generated on the display, since it would be impossible to have a dynamic Back button that’s set below the device’s display.

However, Lacy’s proposal is an interesting starting point for Google when it comes to thinking of ways to make the Back button user experience more consistent. Be sure to take a closer look at Lacy’s full proposal by clicking the source link below.

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