iPhone and the back button January 4, 2012 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Occasionally, when I use the "back" arrow on my iPhone 4s to return to the main page of one of the subsites, it brings me to a much older version of that page, rather than the version I was just visiting. Why? How do I stop this from happening?
posted by Night_owl to Bugs at 1:05 PM (39 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

You aren't alone on this. This happens on my iPhone 3g ever since iOS5 came out.
posted by strixus at 1:08 PM on January 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is a known issue with the latest version iOS. Unfortunately, there's not much we can do on our end.

When you notice that you're at an older page, refresh the page and you'll get the latest version. You could also skip using the back button. The logo at the top of the page will take you to the front page. If you click that you'll avoid the back button bug.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:10 PM on January 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


pb, can you provide details on the problem? I only ever see it on Metafilter; I don't know if that is because it is only happening on Metafilter or because this is the only site I spend enough time at to notice it.
posted by enn at 1:15 PM on January 4, 2012


You can find people across the Web discussing this issue if you try a Google search for something like "iOS5 safari back button cache". I haven't seen any good solutions to it proposed yet.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:16 PM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can also try using an alternate browser like Atomic or Opera.
posted by bcwinters at 1:17 PM on January 4, 2012


I don't ever experience it, so I don't have any firsthand knowledge. But apparently mobile safari will frequently keep an older cached version of a particular page instead of the most recently loaded version. When you click the back button it brings up the older version instead of the one you most recently loaded. I'm not sure why.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:19 PM on January 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I heard it happens if you hold the phone in the wrong way - apparently your body and the phone's casing form a flux capacitor circuit and the phone actually travels back in time.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:20 PM on January 4, 2012 [8 favorites]


This also happens to me regularly (on multiple sites) using iOS5 Safari on my iPod Touch.
posted by Huw at 1:31 PM on January 4, 2012


One thing we could do that I consider a nuclear option is asking mobile safari not to cache the front pages of our subsites. The back button cache (when it's working) means that a page you were just at loads extremely fast when you use the back button. If we ask mobile safari not to cache the page at all, everyone would have to re-download the page every time they want to view it. That behavior might be even more annoying than this bug, especially since the quality of data connections can vary widely when you're out and about, and not everyone is experiencing this bug consistently.

So until Apple fixes this up I'm not sure there's anything we can do that isn't more annoying than the bug itself.
posted by pb (staff) at 1:35 PM on January 4, 2012


Yep...I get this on my iPod Touch and my iPad, on several sites. I notice it a lot more on the Touch, and I notice it on things like CNN and local news sites.
posted by MultiFaceted at 1:43 PM on January 4, 2012


This happens to me all the time.
posted by whoaali at 1:56 PM on January 4, 2012


This happens to me on other sites all the time. Like my Twitter mentions tab is open in a safari browser and sometimes when I hit back or wake my phone from sleep it is showing results from a week ago.

Probably a cache bug in iOS safari.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:58 PM on January 4, 2012


I heard it happens if you hold the phone in the wrong way

Note: Every phone needs a hug.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:04 PM on January 4, 2012


Happens to me too. It is like watching Daily Show reruns.
posted by R. Mutt at 2:17 PM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Weirdly enough, this happens on my iPad, but not my phone, and I've only ever noticed it on MeFi.
posted by middleclasstool at 2:18 PM on January 4, 2012


The funny thing is Apple made this change because iOS users were complaining that every time you hit the back button Safari would always reload the page. This is fine if you're in a place with a good data connection, but sucks if you've moved to a place with a slow or no connection. So the new method was introduced but it does seem to have a bug where it sometimes do not keep the freshest version of the page.

So it is a bug that maybe Apple will fix. I recommend everyone that experiences this bug take a second to submit feedback to Apple about it here (note Apple.com's feedback pages are not optimized for mobile and it is easier to fill out on a real computer.
posted by birdherder at 2:19 PM on January 4, 2012


This happens to me on my Android. I just refresh, but it's weird.

(I think the default browser is Safari, but I'm not positive; the phone just wants to call it "INTERNET" to be sure I USE THAT ONE.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:30 PM on January 4, 2012


I guess it's just the "Android browser," from a quick google. I couldn't find where in the browser itself it tells me its name or version, annoying. (HTC Incredible.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:34 PM on January 4, 2012


Whew. Here I was thinking it was the bourbon.
posted by rtha at 2:51 PM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been wondering about this. I just kind of assumed it was stupidness on the phone's part. Good to know.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:58 PM on January 4, 2012


Yeah I get this on my HTC Desire as well. Standard browser on Android 2.3.
posted by Captain Najork at 3:02 PM on January 4, 2012


Same thing happens to me and drives me crazy. I just open actual posts in a new page so I can always return to where I left off in the list of posts.
posted by Nattie at 3:02 PM on January 4, 2012


I've noticed this ever since iOS5 too, but quickly realized there's, yeah, nothing pb can do probably because it happens on a few other sites too.
posted by ifjuly at 5:08 PM on January 4, 2012


I just kind of assumed it was stupidness on the phone's part.

I just kind of assumed it was some stupidness on my part.
posted by tamitang at 5:48 PM on January 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just used to think that there were just a lot of slow days on metafilter.
posted by SLC Mom at 6:27 PM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I first noticed this happening, I had to try very hard not to flag things as doubles. Because I was very sure I'd seen those posts just a few days before!

Now it's just a nice (short) trip down memory lane.
posted by nat at 8:04 PM on January 4, 2012


Same here on iPad on MeFi and other sites like BBC news. Refresh fixes it but damn if it isn't irritating.
posted by arcticseal at 8:06 PM on January 4, 2012


Datapoint: Same thing here. MyTouch 4G (HTC.Glacier) running Android Gingerbread. happens in both the stock browser and Dolphin Browser Mini.
I'm pretty okay with it since I don't lose my place as much as before, but thought I'd mention it for research purposes.
posted by ApathyGirl at 11:12 PM on January 4, 2012


You mean porpoises, right ?
posted by spitbull at 11:29 PM on January 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I use Atomic Web and haven't experienced this issue.
posted by babby╩╝); Drop table users; -- at 11:43 PM on January 4, 2012


Same happens on windows phone 7.5 Not much can be done about it, I think.
posted by seanyboy at 1:12 AM on January 5, 2012


Thanks, all. Glad to know it's not just me.
posted by Night_owl at 3:42 AM on January 5, 2012


call tech support. ask for steve jobs.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 4:29 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


babby╩╝); Drop table users; --: "I use Atomic Web and haven't experienced this issue."

Atomic browser is great. It's UI is way better than Safari's, and it has a low memory warning feature that's very useful for me, as my ipod touch lacks the memory of other iOS devices and Safari has a tendency to just bomb back to the desktop when it runs out of space.

(I've never noticed this issue in Atomic.)
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:16 AM on January 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


This happens to me a lot, so I frequently clear my cookies. Seems to work for a day or two.

The downside: I have to try to remember my Metafilter login info for re-entry.
posted by Sweetmag at 8:00 AM on January 5, 2012


This happens to me too. The solution, as Nattie mentions, is to open all links in a new page by holding your finger on the link and selecting "open in new page" from the pop-up menu. This method also alleviates that nasty phenomenon of the back button always taking you to the top of the page, forcing you to scroll down, down, down to where you were before. It took me a depressingly long time to work this out. Also if you hold the phone wrong, you lose your meds and miss your next therapy appointment.
posted by firstdrop at 11:10 AM on January 5, 2012


This happens on my HTV Evo. Interestingly, I don't experience the problem on other similarly structured sites, e.g. Hacker News.
posted by Horselover Fat at 1:08 PM on January 5, 2012


This happens on MetaFilter and the Sydney Morning Herald. I figured it happened on the Herald website because Sydneysiders can be a bit behind the times.
posted by taff at 12:29 AM on January 6, 2012


I just assumed it was some porpoises on my part.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:14 PM on January 7, 2012


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