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I want to know if there's resarch on to what extent users use the Home button or the Back button when they want to minimize the app. I am very well aware that the "correct" way is to use the Home button, but I'm interested to know whether or not this is the natural way the majority of users minimize their current app?

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3 Answers 3

By minimize, do you mean "just get it out of my sight" or acutally close an app and free the used memory? As an Android user, I can tell you how I use these buttons. Let's assume my goal is to close/suspend:

  • I press the home button when I feel I can trust the app to go into suspend mode reliably OR the app has layers or previous pages I would switch to when pressing the back button
  • I press the back button when I have no trust in the app going into suspend mode and I fear that the app might let the phone stay active. I am an Android user for two years now, but I still don't trust the internal task manager to suspend all apps properly, so I sometimes use the back button just to salve my conscience.

Just my personal feeling. This is something about Android's obscure app managing that bugged me from the beginning. I would be very interested in how other users see this.

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+1 You provide good reasoning. However I would love to see some figures. The thing is that I'm having a design problem where I wonder whether I can let the back button link between two tabs in the main tab bar. If users recognize that they're on the home screen and they try and back out of the application using Back then it wouldn't be desirable to be linked to another tab. However letting the back button link between these two tabs does add to the natural flow. The problem is more in the layout, that both views are in the same layer. Hence why I want to know which is the most used hide button –  AndroidHustle Oct 24 '12 at 9:58
    
A back button to trace back a history of selected tab buttons, that sounds very confusing. Tabbed views are all on the same level. –  Kris Van Bael Oct 25 '12 at 19:01
    
@AndroidHustle are you implementing widget using Tabs? I agree with Kris that that will be confusing. –  Phuah Yee Keat Oct 31 '12 at 4:05
    
@PhuahYeeKeat Yes, I agree with that it can be confusing as well. It has to do with a flow of actions that I'm a bit wary off in the application I'm working with. It pretty much has to do with entering a contact card and choosing to write a chat message, the chat view is a primary tab view, and if the user presses back in this view it will not take them back to the contact card but rather minimize the app. That's why I wonder whether it could be justified to link the back button in this case back to the contact card, even though that technically is a view one depth deeper than the chat view. –  AndroidHustle Oct 31 '12 at 9:06

It depends on what the user expect to see when they want to return to the App. If the user wants to return to the exact same screen, then they will have to use the Home button, using the Back button in such condition doesn't guarantee that.

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If one app has launched another, for example, a web page, pressing "Back" may be the way the user dismisses the second app –  Yamikuronue Oct 24 '12 at 18:34
    
For such case, my condition became, whether the user wants to return to the Web Page later? If he wants to then he should use the Home button, if not, Back button will be fine. –  Phuah Yee Keat Oct 31 '12 at 4:04

The back button is functionally different than the home button. The home button always takes you back to the home screen. If the back button isn't overridden within the app itself it will take you back to your last open app.

For example - If I'm using multiple apps I'll use the back button to return to what I was previously doing when I'm done in the current app. If I'm in navigation and I start pandora, once I've started pandora I'll hit back to return to navigation.

Whether I use the back or home button depends upon how I use your app and how I use it in relation to my other apps. I suspect I'm not alone in this, and that may make any studies on this irrelevant to your particular use case.

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