Sometimes, a tech company just can’t catch a break. Google’s unacceptable inability to please 100% of the tech users of the world has never been more apparent (and apparently, more poignant) than with the news that it will no longer allow Chrome users to use the “backspace” key on their keyboards in order to navigate back a page in the browser.
We’ll pause and allow the earth-shattering news to wash over you.
Feel better? No? You’re not alone. First, it was the “years of complaints” cited by the Chrome browser division that prompted the team to take not-so-swift action. In fact, third-party browser plug-ins and instructional posts appeared several years ago that allowed users to disable the key on their own, possibly created in response to the numerous message boards dedicated to this one keystroke.
Now, Google has issued a silent update that will finally delete the function once and for all, based on the fact that a small number of users tend to lose important information when the key causes them to skip back a page. The keystroke no longer impacts your browsing in Chrome. How vast was the devastation caused by one tiny plastic rectangle? “0.04% of page views navigate back via the backspace button and 0.005% of page views are after a form interaction,” according to a code review explanation. (We’re guessing it might not be a matter of how many incidents occurred, but rather who was affected…you get one software exec’s kid who loses twenty-pages of work for his report at nine pm the day before it’s due, and heads will roll in R&D.)
Unfortunately, Google has learned that you just can’t please everyone. There are now multiple complaint boards dedicated to the hordes of users who repeatedly struck their backspace keys but to no avail, only to discover that they had to now click ALT-Left Arrow to navigate back via their keyboards.
For its part, Google isn’t committing to anything just yet. They’ve initiated this change as a “flag” pending the public outcry.