If in case you realized that you’re panicking because you’re lost with your iOS or Android device’s navigation, no need to worry; it happens to the best of us. Have you ever experienced an instance wherein you’re happily tapping around, when suddenly, you reach a dead end? Whether you’re just trying to get into the settings of a certain app or you just want to change the font of your text message, unfortunately you lost your way around.

The sleek, minimalist designs of the Android and iOS ecosystems, may be attractive but notoriously tricky to navigate. But there’s a way to get around the madness, and knowing how common buttons and visual cues function in Android and iOS will make it much simpler and easier to get to the place where you want to be.

1. Always trust the “hamburger”


Whenever you’re digging around an app searching for something that resembles a menu, your account information, or help, the solution lies on a three-line button that is usually found either at the upper-left or -right corner of the screen.

This button looks a bit like an abstract hamburger — and indeed, it’s called the “hamburger” in app-development circles. Tapping this hamburger-like icon opens a drawer from the side of the screen showing you various options and navigation items, which makes it a nice place to start if you’re looking for, let’s say, your Gmail conversation labels, or your Recent items in Google Docs.

If tapping the hamburger icon doesn’t help you achieve your goal, there’s another menu that you can try…

2. Check into the “overflow” menu


Have you seen the icon with three dots that usually sits beside the hamburger icon? This three-dot button is actually called the “overflow” button — or to be more precise, the “action overflow” button. If you tap it, you’ll find a series of options that didn’t merit a spot in the main interface. Think of it as the “More” option and you’ll get the idea.

In Chrome for example, tapping the overflow button will present you features like New Tab and Bookmarks, Find in Page, and Recent Tabs. Although you may find items you might have expected to see under the hamburger icon, like Settings and Help.

If you’re not actually sure what is the difference between the hamburger and the overflow buttons — head to the overflow icon if the hamburger icon didn’t satisfy you.

3. Try the “action” button (for iOS devices only)


While you’ll find the hamburger and action overflow buttons on both Android and iPhone/iPad apps, iOS has its own unique button where important features tend to hide: the action button.

Just like with the action overflow button, the iOS action button (a square with an arrow pointing up) opens a menu that usually includes a dozen more options — from Copy and Print to sharing options like Message, Mail, and Twitter.

The options under the action button varies depending on the app you’re using. In iOS’ Safari browser, for example, the action menu includes features such as Add to Reading List (this saves the current webpage for offline reading), Request Desktop Site (if you’d rather skip the mobile-optimized version of a page), and Add to Home Screen (pins an icon for the current page to your home screen). In the Photos app, however, the action button will let you assign a snapshot to a contact, use a photo as your wallpaper, or start a slideshow.

4. Tap or scroll to reveal missing toolbars


Android and iOS apps like Chrome, Safari, and Google Maps may easily show in full-screen mode while you’re scrolling down a page or swiping around Street View. It’s a great way to get an immerse view of a webpage or a map, but honestly, panic starts to arise when you see those toolbars disappear.

Before you attempt to press that Home key to return to familiar ground, try tapping the screen once, or if that doesn’t work, scroll up or down a bit. Doing this will usually make toolbars and overflow buttons slide back into view.

5. Follow the breadcrumb (for iOS devices only)

Every once in a while, a button or a link in an iOS app will lead to another app. For example, a link in a news app might take you to YouTube, or an iMessage alert might lead you away from a webpage in Safari.

When that happens, you might want to peek on the little navigation aid found at the top-left corner of the screen — the one with the tiny black arrow pointing back along with a label saying “Back to (the name of the app or page you’re previously on).

This little button is called a “breadcrumb,” which lets you retrace your steps whenever you’ve been shuttled between different apps or pages. Tap the breadcrumb, and you’ end up right back where you came from.

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This entry was posted by Staff Writer on Saturday, March 19, 2016 at 6:08:05 AM and is filed under Tech Tips & Tricks.

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