Apple Core


Dear Apple, Please Give iOS Users a Back Button . . .



Dear Mr. Cook,

I own an art gallery. On a weekly basis I am approached by artists who want to present their work to me for representation. Many of them are using their iPads, because, you know, artists are artsy, and Apple products appeal to artsy types.

And so this is how it goes every time: The artist will have created a couple of albums containing different series of work. The artist will open one album and begin showing me work. So far so good. Artist swipes slowly through the images and then comes to the last image. Now it's time to show me another album - and now the chaos and confusion.

Artist: "Let me show you some other work - um, just a second." Silent thinking. Artist single taps picture on screen, top menu bar opens. Artist, flustered, and for some reason unsure what to do now mashes the home button. Artist taps the Photos app - and is taken right back to the exact same photo. Now in a panic, artist mashes home button again, and then hits the Photos app again . . . and is taken back to the exact same photo.

I have watched artists do this 4-5 times before they finally remember (or discover) that they have to hit the album name to return to the gallery. Now we can move on to the next album, but when we get to the end of it, the exact same process repeats itself before we can move to the next album.

This is stupid. Just give your users a universal back button, and put it where they can easily find and reach it.


1. Many of these artists are older - often 50+ - and not technically savvy - but I thought the whole idea with iOs was that you weren't supposed to have to be technically savvy - that it was totally intuitive.

2. My evidence is anecdotal, but if you don't believe me, I challenge you to field test this and ask a user to show you through a couple of albums.

3. Presenting your art in a gallery is nerve wracking - and the stress may make these particular users unusually clumsy. But isn't this exactly when you could prove how intuitive your OS is?

4. Some of these users may be new to iOS and just not well trained. Just today though I had an artist in presenting work to me on her iPad 2, well worn and weather beaten. Clearly she has been using this thing for years, and this exact scenario played out.

So please, Mr. Cook, for the love of all that is good, give your users a back button.