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I work on a product with a side navigation bar on the left side of the screen (for tablets). It functions like a Navigation bar. We have been asked to implement a feature so that if a user is away from the "main" tab for more than 10 seconds (without any touch inputs), we should automatically swap them back to the main tab.

While using the app, I've noticed this auto nav switching felt jarring to me on several occasions. I've also never seen any other app do this, but I couldn't find anything official about it in any mobile guideline docs.

So, are there any official Android/iOS guidelines about automatically switching nav bar selection for a user?

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  • sorry, what do you mean by "main tab" and "switching nav"? Can you provide a mockup so we can visualize it?
    – Devin
    Oct 6, 2023 at 16:13
  • @Devin sorry for confusing description. Not a designer so not sure how to do a mockup. Imagine a navigation bar at the bottom of the screen like the one I linked. Now imagine one of the 5 nav options being the "main" option (e.g. "Home" for facebook or similar). There are other nav options on the bottom bar that we are told to auto switch back from. E.g. if the user navigates to the "Friends" bottom nav bar option and sits on that screen for 10s, auto switch them back to "Home".
    – Adam Johns
    Oct 6, 2023 at 17:54

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OK, after reading your comment, I think I understand your situation.

As for Android or Apple mentioning this problem in their guidelines, I don't think so. I did a quick check on HIG (Apple's guidelines) and couldn't find anything. And honestly, I didn't expect to find it. While I didn't check the Android guidelines, I'm pretty sure it will be the same case.

And this is for a reason: nobody should ever do what you say. Never, EVER. This is a violation of one of the main laws of user interface design.

7. Keep users in control.

Experienced users strongly desire the sense that they are in charge of the interface and that the interface responds to their actions. They don’t want surprises or changes in familiar behavior, and they are annoyed by tedious data-entry sequences, difficulty in obtaining necessary information, and inability to produce their desired result.

Users should never wonder what happened to the page they were viewing. Just imagine you're reading something; you simply leave your mouse (hence no interactions are registered), and all of a sudden everything disappears and another page, WHICH YOU NEVER INTENDED TO VISIT, shows up. Would you consider this a good user experience? I guess not!

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