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As you might have seen it a lot of times in web apps, one step back in history often is aligned by an arrow to the left.

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How does this work for people using RTL languages? Do they need an arrow to the right?

How does this work for languages which are written from top to bottom like Chinese, Japanese or Korean? Do they need an arrow to the top?

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I'm not sure if this is a usability question. It's really more of a technical question, as far as your translator will tell you whether the arrow should be facing left, right, up or down. –  Brendon Oct 18 '13 at 6:25
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@Brendon even if it's not a usability question, it is still a user experience question –  L. Möller Oct 18 '13 at 9:12
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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Chinese, Korean and Japanese applications are structured according to the western standard LTR. I work closely with the Chinese and the Japanese domestic market and writing from left to right in any software context is the conventional approach nowadays. Regarding RTL languages like Arabic and Hebrew you should abide to their convention if you'll have the app localized. Meaning pretty much everything is mirrored, including the "Back" direction:

enter image description here enter image description here

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Are those screenshots from a real device? So the navigation bar (back, home, recent) is not mirrored? Interesting. –  L. Möller Oct 18 '13 at 9:10
    
@L.Mller Yes, it's from an Xperia Dogo set to localize with a middle eastern RTL language, not entirely sure which one though... The reason for not mirroring the navigation bar is to my knowledge a heritage from the days when the navigation bar was physical with physical symbols of what it represents. The mapping most probably derives from those days. It's not a matter of Android code patching at least since the status bar is also mirrored. –  AndroidHustle Oct 18 '13 at 9:14
    
that makes sense. looks strange anyway. everything mirrored except the navigation bar. and the back-arrow does not point to the right. –  L. Möller Oct 18 '13 at 9:16
    
@L.Mller I definitely agree with you. I'm guessing it's the generic behaviour for all Android devices. I may bring it up with the UI Loc team. –  AndroidHustle Oct 18 '13 at 17:00
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Even more confusingly, the "back" arrow at bottom-left of the screen points left, but the "back" ("return") icon at top-right of the screen points right! –  AlexC Dec 19 '13 at 18:19
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