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Back vs home button - please help

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by ivanzorkic, Jul 4, 2010.

  1. ivanzorkic

    ivanzorkic Member
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    Illustrator, concept artist and UI designer
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    This has been brought up before, but I was unable to find a satisfying answer. And I know it's a newbish question.

    What is the difference between exiting an app with the back button compared to the home button? I am not talking about switching to the home screen, I am talking about a scenario when you want to exit an app. For example, you play a game, you're done - do you press home or back? Or, you're in the Facebook app and you want to exit to the homescreen - what do you press - back or home? At first, I thought both buttons do the same with the difference that home brings you to the homescreen instantly while back goes through your previous steps/pages/screens in the current app and then returns you the homescreen.

    But later I noticed that 'reactivating' some apps that were exited via the back button cause them to 'reload' (the loading screen shows up - with certain games, grooveshark's loading screen, etc.) while they switch back instantly when "exited" with the home button.

    I gather the way to 'leave' an app you don't plan on using for at least a short while (I am not talking about closing the app, I know it's up to Android, or some task-killer) is the back button, while home is more for task switching/starting new apps while old ones are running.

    Am I correct? What is the common practice?
     

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  2. macprv

    macprv Android Enthusiast
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    If u press home button, the app will stay on the background, and if you go open the app again you will notice the app will resume where you left
    if you press back you will close the app .. but some apps could be designed using the back button for something else, like this solitaire cards game I have, if I press back it will undo My last move, in cases like those go to the menu of the app and there should be a quite or close option.
    And yeah if an app stays in the background for a while and the system feels like it need that "space of memory" it will close the app by its self, so there's not really a need for a task manager app (IMHO), there might be a case where an app could get stuck and would make the system lag, in those cases just go to main screen and press menu/settings/applications/manage apps/running. And just force stop whatever you want.
    this is just my opinion based in my experience, I'm not a programmer or anything like that, I hope it helps.
     
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  3. ivanzorkic

    ivanzorkic Member
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    Thanks!

    I also just realised that if you long-press the back button, most apps will exit straight to the homescreen, without doing the one-page back thing. Some apps have different behavior on long press though - i.e. the browser shows a history screen instead.
     
  4. LexusBrian400

    LexusBrian400 Android Enthusiast
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    Yeah, thats going to be app-specific depending on how the developer made the app to work :)
     
  5. Wbarger

    Wbarger Newbie
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    I always tend to use the home key over the back key unless I'm web browsing.
     
  6. takeshi

    takeshi Android Expert
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    Bingo.

    That's why the OP was unsatisfied with the former answer. There's no one-size-fits-all answer. In general, back indicates that you want to close. However, it really depends on the specific app you're talking about. If an app can be closed, there will be an option on the menu. Otherwise, it's up to the OS to kill it to free up resources as needed.

    Most task killer threads cover this.
     
  7. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Android Expert
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    So there's no standard on how an app should exit? For example, in Windows, you click an X in the top right corner. Does Android have no standard like this, or do they have one and no one follows it?
     
  8. Demache

    Demache Android Expert
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    There is. The OS itself decides when to close an app to make more room for other apps. Its a very different way of memory management compared to conventional desktop OS's. We are very used to the traditional way of memory management, that an app will stay open until the user either closes it, or it crashes. However, Android takes a very different approach, which is more automatic. We are still stuck in the mentality that when you are done using an app, you need to close it, or else its hogging memory.

    Some apps do have a dedicated close function however. Like Pandora and some games. But it is not required.
     
  9. A.Nonymous

    A.Nonymous Android Expert
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    To me it's a sense of tidiness more than anything. I've got a quad core processor and 8 gb of ram on my desktop. I could run a lot of programs in the background without impacting performance in any meaningful way. I still close programs when I'm done with them though because it's tidy.
     

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