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The death of the Back button on Android Q reminisces about what Google did from giving birth to Android

The death of the Back button on Android Q reminisces about what Google did from giving birth to Android

. 3 min read

The screen is the most important part that determines the interaction between users and the modern smartphone. 12 years passed this interaction mechanism finally has a turning point.

Google acquired Android company in 2005. Few people know that the first Android might have released after the iPhone just a few days – if Android’s father – Andy Rubin did not watch the iPhone launch ceremony.

By that time, the first pattern version of Android (named “HTC Sooner”) was a device with a small display, with touchpad and QWERTY like BlackBerry. According to The Atlantic magazine, Rubin said when he saw iPhone, “Oh my God, I guess Google won’t launch this phone anymore.”

The operating system, which was almost complete at that time, has been switched to improve to suit the control mechanism pioneered by Steve Jobs – a large size multi-point screen. Android took a whole year more to appear but relied on low price and touch experience as the focus; Google has filled in the iPhone’s gaps about price frame, at the same time turned Nokia and BlackBerry into backward ones.

Between the old and the new

Android smartphone might be a copy of BlackBerry.

Those who remember Android at the beginning period will still mind the physical keyboard. One of the first “hit” of Android was Motorola Zoom, which also had a sliding keyboard. Many Samsung models had physical keyboards until 2012. Of course, the HTC Dream still has a physical keyboard below.

Google has not dared to place a bet 100% on the vision of Steve Jobs. On the one hand, Google believed in the attraction of touch screens. On the other hand, Google still left a safe retreat way for its own, in the case if users would not accept the experience “almost without buttons,” Android still had a way to live.

A decade later, history repeats. Although it is not a pioneer for full-screen movement, Apple is still the top name of a “full-screen experience” when launching an absolute navigation mechanism by gestures on-screen. Without Home button, no need Back button, nor forcing users to set fingers on the back to unlock the device, Apple allows users to move inside the operating system of Apple smartphone with easy, visual act.

Experience the new screen version.

The same as 10 years ago, Google responded with a solution combining between the old and the new. On Android Pie, Google unveiled the navigation mechanism with gestures as iOS 10 did. Concurrently, the old navigation bar (including Back and Home) is still flexible advent, depending on the application being used. And then, the chief designer of the UX department in Google was proud to show off that they had researched feedback from the users before bringing it into Android P.

A year later, the rightness of this study is demonstrated: Android users love the navigation mechanism created by …Apple.

Android Q and Apple’s vision

With Android Q, Google has completely removed the navigation bar. The main move mechanism in Android is now a copy from Apple, including the “Back” gesture by swiping the hand from the left screen edge (though it is true that iOS can swipe from the middle of the screen). The Back button finally died, Google itself forced to admit this.

The history of 2007 is repeated. Incidentally, this is also the first time the interaction between users and the smartphone with touch screen really changes. The screen was bigger, was longer – but that is just the improvement. Apple has tried to open a “point” by the force of strong touch (Android firms also follow), but the fate of this feature has now come to an end.

Only when “full screen” throne, new manufacturers have to really rethink about user’s experience. Apple, ever following the “entirety” mindset so far, has thought of everything from the new screen, new security mechanisms to new navigation mechanisms. Following Apple, Google just needs to learn the right things only.