Originally Posted by Marvin
The position of those buttons has an advantage but Android's scheme is confusing because the same buttons do different things in different contexts (yes I am aware of the volume-up/shutter button but it's the exception).
I agree. I think that's the most confusing thing to people moving over from iOS. They expect the Back button to stop at the app's topmost level.
Also, you don't always need the buttons but they always use the space.
Of course, the Apple Home button always uses space (lots of it, since it's round).
Android buttons can actually go away in some modes if they're part of the screen. For example, I just took these two screenshots from a Galaxy Nexus. In fullscreen video mode, the buttons and statusbar disappear, and the whole front of the phone is used:
Apple's home button works better than the software home button because as soon as you see the device, you know what to do - it's almost like a power button.
I think the Home button on the iPhone is one of the best ideas ever. It's like a safety net and it's easy.
Moreover, it neatly solved a common problem of the time, especially with a new OS: a need for a way for the user to recover from a runaway program or an OS glitch. By using a physical button, with an electrical interrupt to the CPU, the user actually "reset" the OS every single time they clicked Home. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
The downside later on, was that with only one button, Apple has had to shoehorn extra functionality into it via multiple clicks.
I think it would be quite good if the home button was capacitive (even if it was in addition to being physical) and that way press-hold or press goes home, swiping right goes back, swiping left can go forward again, swiping up does multi-tasking, swiping down opens notification center (swipe up to dismiss) and it would execute the action in the best way. It would track which view partition you were just using.
Yep, there are lots of things that could be done.
For example, I liked WebOS and its multitasking control gestures. It was intuitive and fun to use.
I also liked a phone I had with a capacitive zoom bar under the screen. Super easy one-handed zooming on most pages. Very smart.