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I have developed an Android app which plays an audio stream. There are three ways for the user to make the app go away:

  1. Push the back button on their mobile device.
  2. Push the close [x] on the top right hand corner.
  3. Push the home button.

In addition, if the stream is playing, there are also three possible behaviours for both of these close mechanisms:

A. Prompt for the user to decide if they want the stream to stop.
B. Don't prompt, and just stop the stream.
C. Don't prompt, and just carry on playing in the background.

The app currently behaves in the following way:

  • (1A) Back button is pushed -> prompt the user for input and then go away.
  • (2B) [x] button pushed -> just kill the stream and go away.
  • (3C) Home button is pushed -> don't prompt, carry on playing and go away.

I feel like the 1A and 3C behaviours are fairly consistent with the way a user would expect an app to behave. The issue/question is with the 2B [x] behaviour.

My original thinking was for the [x] button to indicate be a much stronger "go away!" intention, where the app immediately complies and doesn't bother with any kind of prompting.

However, I am questioning if this is the best behaviour, since now all three "go away" methods have different behaviours and could be confusing. Now the user has to remember that if they want it to continue, they must push the back button or the home button. I think it would be better to prompt the user when they push [x]. Thus, my question is as follows:

Which is more important?

  • Going away quickly when the [x] button is pressed, but now the behaviour between all three exit mechanisms is inconsistent.

  • Always prompting the user on behaviour at the expense of taking longer to close, but now the "go away" behaviours are consistent across the app.

  • And people claim Android is designed. – Confused Apr 20 '16 at 10:43
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    Is it common for Android apps to have an [X] button to close the entire app? As an iOS user that seems like a highly strange (and far too simple) way to close an app. – DasBeasto Apr 20 '16 at 12:14
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Good UX would be to use the guidelines for Android apps, which would be to NOT have a close button. But instead using all the app management solutions provided by Android OS.

Android apps generally do not have close buttons. But instead have a designed interface that developers can use which makes the apps appear integrated in to the operating system and in turn allows users to get used to how to use the apps without having different closing techniques between apps.

Please see the answer here by Nick Bedford regarding this topic Why dont mobile apps have a close button

The major mobile touch screen operating systems (iOS, Windows Phone 7, Android) don't trouble the user with "closing" applications in the way that desktop applications do. This simplifies the experience, making applications appear seamlessly built into the operating system.

You should be looking in to using the sort of methods for closing the app that are familiar with Android users.

Regarding the audio side of your question. I use Android and listen to music and podcasts regularly on many different apps, you should research the top music streaming, podcast, radio apps and see how those guys do it.

I know that lots of them do the same thing using notifications on the lock screen and icons in the top bar.

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The fact that this is an audio stream makes a difference to the user. If the sound is suddenly unwanted then you want to allow the user to kill it as quickly as possible, and the [X] is the most likely option to be used in this scenario.

[X] is definitely a close / remove action, so it won't be a surprise that it immediately stops the stream.

  • There is also a humongous pause button, if sudden unwanted sound occurred, I suspect the "pause" would be the first action taken. I ask this question also because I have received comments indicating that users are unaware that backgrounding the app is a feature, which means that they're only ever using the [x]. – user56701 Apr 20 '16 at 11:02
  • @stacey Definitely have a button specifically to run it in the background then. I think it is fine to have multiple ways of doing the same thing (button and shortcut keys are a common example) – Franchesca Apr 20 '16 at 13:51

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