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Programming Android by Zigurd Mednieks, G. Blake Meike, Masumi Nakamura, Laird Dornin

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A Flowing and Intuitive User Experience Across Activities

After the basics of the life cycle of an activity, navigation and flow from one activity to another is the next most fundamental aspect of the architecture of Android applications, and it goes hand in hand with life cycle. In a mobile device with a small screen, an intuitive flow among multiple screens is key to maximizing the visual information the user can access and use. When applications are correctly implemented and maximally cooperative, a user may navigate among several activities, each of which is implemented in a separate application, and think he has used only one application.

Multitasking in a Small-Screen Environment

Keeping track of multiple tasks—multiple programs, documents, and so forth—in a personal computer’s user interface is something so commonplace that you may not think much about how it is accomplished. Multiple documents, overlapping windows, and a mouse pointer are all ingredients of a user interface paradigm called the “desktop metaphor.” Your personal computer screen is a metaphor for a real desk, with overlapping documents on it. Move a document to the top by selecting it with the pointer, and it becomes the document you are working on.

On a small screen, the entire screen is devoted to a single task, and the concept of a task, and task switching, is inherently less visual. In mobile user interfaces, a back stack—a stack of activities you can go back to—is often a central concept. In Android, the ...

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