How to use the new back button in iOS 9

Posted:
in iPhone edited August 2020
One of the most notable -- albeit least trumpeted -- user-facing enhancements in iOS 9 is the new back button, which lets you quickly return to where you were when following links between apps. Confused how it works? Here's a concise explainer.




iOS's ability to automatically steer you into the proper app for the content you want is usually immensely useful, but it can be a drag. While you probably do want to watch a YouTube video in the YouTube app, being booted from Safari to Facebook after you accidentally tap the Facebook login button is...annoying.

As a result, many iOS users have burned the double-tap-swipe-left-tap-again gesture into muscle memory.

In iOS 9, that's no longer necessary. When you tap on a button or link in an app or notification that directs you to another app, iOS 9 will replace the signal meters in the upper left with a back button -- just tap it go back to where you were. It also works with the improved search in iOS 9.

Sorry, you don't have HTML5 video and we didn't catch this properly in javascript. You can try to view the gif directly: http://zippy.gfycat.com/DisloyalRectangularGalapagostortoise.gif.


The back button will stay in place until you switch away from the new app, but it won't go more than one level deep. If you follow a link from Messages to Safari, then from Safari to the App Store, you can't use the chain of breadcrumbs to go back to Messages -- it'll only take you back to Safari.

Owners of the new iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus have yet another way to go back to their last task, even without the use of the new back button. Using the 3D Touch display, users can firmly press the left edge of the display and drag their finger to bring up the iOS 9 multitasking view.

Quickly dragging a finger toward the right side of the screen will flip the user back to the last-used app. Dragging more slowly and then taking the thumb off of the screen pulls up the full multitasking view, negating the need to double-press the home button.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 92
    mavismavis Posts: 25member
    It's kind of annoying though, because it hides the signal strength indicators - both wifi and LTE. If you open a Safari link from another app, it shows the "Back to ____" text indefinitely, so if things are taking a while to load you don't know if it's the site or the connection.
  • Reply 2 of 92
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,634member
    Maybe I'm a bit slow today, but what's this "double-tap-swipe-left-tap-again gesture" business?

    Edit: ah. Double tap the home button to enter the app switcher. Now I get it. Must be too warm today... ;)
  • Reply 3 of 92
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    Awesome: you managed to devote an entire article (and created the corresponding ad space) to a feature so self explanatory that its entire help text fits into the button itself...

    How about a series of articles on other little talked about features?

    Here some suggestions:
    The headphone plug
    The volume buttons (could be two parts, one article on the + and one on the - button)
    The mute toggle
    The power button
    App folders

    I'm sure more topics will come to mind as time goes by...
  • Reply 4 of 92
    Is this the reason why the flipped the direction of the task switcher? Users that previously did commit that to muscle memory now find they need to do the opposite.
  • Reply 5 of 92
    @indiekiduk

    No, the problem is that Apple has a severe left-right problem with iOS for ages. No surprise as Sir Jony has been driving on the wrong side of the road for a considerable period of time in his life ;-)
  • Reply 6 of 92
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    rcfa wrote: »
    Awesome: you managed to devote an entire article (and created the corresponding ad space) to a feature so self explanatory that its entire help text fits into the button itself...

    How about a series of articles on other little talked about features?

    Here some suggestions:
    The headphone plug
    The volume buttons (could be two parts, one article on the + and one on the - button)
    The mute toggle
    The power button
    App folders

    I'm sure more topics will come to mind as time goes by...

    Eagerly looking forward to the Headphone Plug trilogy, soon after to be followed up with the Headphone Plug prequels.
  • Reply 7 of 92
    macvictamacvicta Posts: 346member
    So just press the button?
  • Reply 8 of 92
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

     
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rcfa View Post



    Awesome: you managed to devote an entire article (and created the corresponding ad space) to a feature so self explanatory that its entire help text fits into the button itself...



    How about a series of articles on other little talked about features?



    Here some suggestions:

    The headphone plug

    The volume buttons (could be two parts, one article on the + and one on the - button)

    The mute toggle

    The power button

    App folders



    I'm sure more topics will come to mind as time goes by...




    Eagerly looking forward to the Headphone Plug trilogy, soon after to be followed up with the Headphone Plug prequels.

     

    I think the much more intriging Charging devices (typically) iPhone with Apple connectors with a sidebar describing flammable versus non-flammable. ¡

  • Reply 9 of 92
    Not as of yet using iOS9 I found the information interesting and useful. Thanks. Sounds like a good feature.
  • Reply 10 of 92
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by rcfa View Post



    Awesome: you managed to devote an entire article (and created the corresponding ad space) to a feature so self explanatory that its entire help text fits into the button itself...



    How about a series of articles on other little talked about features?



    Here some suggestions:

    The headphone plug

    The volume buttons (could be two parts, one article on the + and one on the - button)

    The mute toggle

    The power button

    App folders



    I'm sure more topics will come to mind as time goes by...



    I know right! Think of all the trees that were chopped down and the amount of space that was wasted on the internet because AI printed this article! It's a travesty! Especially since the government forces us to read every article that is printed on Appleinsider.com

  • Reply 11 of 92
    Maybe I'm a bit slow today, but what's this "double-tap-swipe-left-tap-again gesture" business?

    Edit: ah. Double tap the home button to enter the app switcher. Now I get it. Must be too warm today... ;)

    Now it will be double-tap the home button to activate Reachability so you can tap the new back button in iOS 9. Because everybody wants a phablet. ;)
  • Reply 12 of 92
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member

    Those familiar with Windows Phone OS will feel a sense of déjà vu but will be scratching their heads as to why it is no longer in the right place.

  • Reply 13 of 92
    [quote]
    Sorry, you don't have HTML5 video and we didn't catch this properly in javascript.
    You can try to view the gif directly: http://zippy.gfycat.com/DisloyalRectangularGalapagostortoise.gif.[/quote]

    ???
    You're not sorry. I assume you guys only test the site with chrome.
    Some of us still use Safari on iOS 8. I know, crazy right? Who still uses an iPhone to view this site? We should be using safe and secure android where Flash is still worshipped as a deity, am I right?

    In the meantime, can you fix the issue for the last of us iOS 8 Safari-using hold-outs? Because Safari does in fact support HTML5 video:
    http://stackoverflow.com/questions/20347352/html5-video-tag-not-working-in-safari-iphone-and-ipad
  • Reply 14 of 92
    cnocbui wrote: »
    Those familiar with Windows Phone OS will feel a sense of déjà vu but will be scratching their heads as to why it is no longer in the right place.

    Why would they ever switch from Windows Phone? Windows Phone 10 is coming! Unless of course, they're just saying that in the forums to insulate that Windows had this feature first, and they have no plans to ever use iOS 9.
  • Reply 15 of 92
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,362member
    This is one of the best tweaks in iOS9 for me. Saves SO MUCH clicking and tapping, and the implementation is pretty genius.
  • Reply 16 of 92
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mavis View Post



    It's kind of annoying though, because it hides the signal strength indicators - both wifi and LTE. If you open a Safari link from another app, it shows the "Back to ____" text indefinitely, so if things are taking a while to load you don't know if it's the site or the connection.

     

    The problem I found when first using it was that it's placed right above the in-app back button zone, so you accidentally hit the wrong one.

     

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by indiekiduk View Post



    Is this the reason why the flipped the direction of the task switcher? 

     

    I think they imagine you holding the phone with your right hand, so you use your right thumb to double click. Then the right swipe with your thumb is easier. I believe the Palm Pre did this too, it had stacks that grew to the right.

     

    That or Tim Cook is catering to the Chinese market, where the pages in traditional books are bound the "wrong way"

  • Reply 17 of 92
    taniwhataniwha Posts: 347member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post



    This is one of the best tweaks in iOS9 for me. Saves SO MUCH clicking and tapping, and the implementation is pretty genius.

    You're setting the bar for Genius remarkably low. 

  • Reply 18 of 92
    boredumbboredumb Posts: 1,418member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

    Eagerly looking forward to the Headphone Plug trilogy, soon after to be followed up with the Headphone Plug prequels.

    I think I read that this wouldn't be posted until "Cellophane: the Series" ended.

  • Reply 19 of 92
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,634member
    Now it will be double-tap the home button to activate Reachability so you can tap the new back button in iOS 9. Because everybody wants a phablet. ;)

    Ah. Reachability. The feature that in terms of usefulness competes directly with quick type for me. Especially when browsing: tap-tap. Then tap on address bar. Again tap-tap for copying link. New tab. Tap-tap for Address bar. Tap-tap for paste. And not soon after you can modify the link. Ok. Doesn't happen often. But still, all this tapping is close to overloading the UI IMHO. I'm curious whether force touch will simplify or add to the complexity.
  • Reply 20 of 92
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,634member
    rcfa wrote: »
    Awesome: you managed to devote an entire article (and created the corresponding ad space) to a feature so self explanatory that its entire help text fits into the button itself...

    How about a series of articles on other little talked about features?

    Here some suggestions:
    The headphone plug
    The volume buttons (could be two parts, one article on the + and one on the - button)
    The mute toggle
    The power button
    App folders

    I'm sure more topics will come to mind as time goes by...

    The funny thing is: those who might need articles on these features are not really the ones you'd expect to browse this kind of websites.
    I DO catch myself, however, long-pressing all kinds of UI elements after the article on the plus button in safari :D
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