I've been seeing this behavior differently in different apps. Is there any certain navigation axioms related to this? I would like to know which of them is ideal/most preferred.

The application has 5 items in the tab bar (as in the image).

enter image description here

A user navigates through it in the following order: 1 -> 2 -> 3 -> 2 -> 3 . So currently he is on tab 3. The concern is, what should happen when the user clicks on the android 'back' button. The options seen generally are:-

  • Follow the same path in a reverse manner i.e 2 -> 3 -> 2 -> 1
  • Go back to 1 regardless of the path.
  • Exit the app after confirmation.

I would strongly advise against navigating back through the tabs. Here is why:

The back button is usually for going up one level, not for ‘horizontal’ navigation. That is what the tabs are for!

Especially when the tabs are all reachable, stacking the tab navigation under the back button is only an inconvenience when the user actually wants to ‘go back’.

Of course, when they are in the main view there is no ‘up’, so the back button doubles as an exit sometimes. But you can safely ignore this usage, because that is what the home button is for. So either ignore the back button in this case, or have it quit the app (instead of just slumbering it like the home button does).

In short: unless there is actual convenience in ‘going back’ through recent navigation, keep the back button history concise, relevant and useful.

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I would say that it should follow the same path in a reverse manner. But maybe it shouldn't go back to the third option again. So when the user is on page 3: 3 -> 2 -> 1. I feel that would make the most sense. You don't literally have to follow the entire path.

You can read this for more information about the back and up buttons which I found here

I do think the feeling it gives is the most important part of this. If a user says it's logical to them that the entire app closes when they press the back button, then that's what it should do.

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