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Feature: Back navigation on Android

Our next Calcapp release is taking shape and we’re hoping to release it in August. While the headline feature will be the ability to share apps with others, we have managed to add a few minor features as well.

Currently, apps you build with Calcapp look like iPhone apps. The plan is to make apps look native on Android as well. There is an even bigger problem on Android than the way apps look, though — they feel wrong.

Android users are used to navigating backward by pressing a hardware back button. (Nowadays, this button is part of the screen, but it used to be a physical button you could press.) Pressing an on-screen button to navigate backward, like iPhone and iPad users are accustomed to, feels wrong to Android users. Instead, they reach for the hardware back button.

What happens if you use the hardware back button with apps built with Calcapp? If you’re at the first screen of your app, you probably expect to be taken back to whatever web site you visited before (if any). But if you have navigated forward to other panels — perhaps you’re ten screens into a complicated app — you expect the previously visited panel in the app to become visible. What you don’t expect is to be moved back to that previously visited web site, but that is precisely what happens. You expect the hardware back button to behave identically to pressing the on-screen back button, and instead you’re taken out of the app you were using and perhaps lose valuable work in the process.

Clearly, this isn’t acceptable and we’re happy to report that the next Calcapp update will fix this problem. (As a bonus, this means that when you use apps built with Calcapp in a web browser, the back and forward buttons of the web browser will now work as expected.)

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