Universal Back Button for Fluid Navigation

I usually take a long train ride every day to reach work. Most days, I have to switch trains in between. Following the morning crowd, I get off the train, go down the stairs and go up an escalator to board another train. This is the most annoying part of my daily commute. Very rarely, though, the first train stops right on the a platform adjacent to my next train. How I rejoice those moments!

What if the train allowed me to sit in the same car and it switches without me getting off at all? That would be a dream commute, isn’t it? You could stay in the same car and get off at your final destination, without even realizing that you were travelling multiple trains.

What is the single most differentiator in user experience between iOS and Android? I would argue that it is the universal back button. It stitches different applications and enables the users to navigate back and forth across applications. On the otherhand, iOS makes you go down the stairs and then catch an escalator to board the next app. I am surprised that all these years, they never implemented this super useful back button. May be they have a design deadlock that prevents them to implement it.

While the back button is very handy for Android users, it still feels like swiching the platforms and taking another train. Wouldn’t it make sense to have the ability to navigate across apps without even realizing that we are operating on many of them? What if the view animations were designed such that the app switches are transparent to the users? What if Android could give a fluid navigation across apps? That is in my wishlist from Android.

I wonder if the Lollipop is going to be sweet enough.