We can't say we didn't see this coming. Google just announced on the Android Developer blog that the Menu button is well and truly dead, in case you hadn't gotten the memo. The post has relevant information on how to update your apps to accommodate the new changes without breaking support for devices running software older than Honeycomb (which are the overwhelming majority at the moment).

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Left: Glorious new Action Bar. Right: Shameful old Menu.

It's not a surprise, but it's certainly another nail in the Menu button's coffin. Google's pushing hard to give the stock software a distinct, beautiful experience. Not to mention encouraging best practices among developers no matter what custom skin a user might be running. This move isn't quite the kick in the pants that, say, Windows Phone 7 was when it first came out, but it's certainly a heads-up to developers: the old ways are over, so keep up or get left behind.

Source: Android Developers Blog

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • Ladislav Balik

    I'm on Gingerbread, so tell me.. how can be menu button replaced on Honeycomb and ICS?

    • Hotmann

      See those three vertical dots in the first image...that's the menu button. It's not necessarily gone, it's just now required to be part of the UI of the apps.

      I personally love the menu button and am sad to see it go...

      • Ladislav Balik

        So its just that capacitive/hw buttons are replaced by "onscreen" buttons, right? So menu button is not going anywhere, it just moved to the screen.
        For a moment I was worried that Android will end up like iPhone with its stupid one button :-D

        • kenyu73

          The menu is obsolete. You will only see the vertical dots for legacy apps (or as an ActionBar overflow). Android wants us to make "ActionBars" instead of popup menus. So, in theory, "popup" menus are going away.

      • leganzish

        I'm pretty disappointed about it too. To me (cause I'm a geek) it made me feel all of the power I had in comparison to an iProduct. Wanted something I didn't see on the screen? Push menu; that usually did the trick.
        I have a question regarding the menu button and the home screen shown in the screen shots: How will/do you get to those options without a menu button? Particularly the settings? Do you have to go to it through the app drawer now? Can someone with a GN can answer that?

        • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

          If the app still has options hidden that would be accessed by the menu button on legacy devices, the menu appears to the right of the app switcher button on the navigation bar. Just like the three little dots in the gmail action bar, they would appear on the nav bar. See this picture from another AP article - the menu button is three dots on the far right of the nav bar (under the AP watermark). Those go away when not needed. http://goo.gl/WHJ0a

        • leganzish

          But what about on the home screen? Do the three dots always appear on the nav bar when you are at your home screen?

        • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

          It only appears when you are in an app that has a legacy menu. It will not be visible the rest of the time.

  • Droidlover

    Well, I hope my menu button my brand new HTC Amaze still has some use once I get ICS. I like the idea of the action bar, but I dislike the idea of a useless button sitting at the bottom of my phone.

    • mastermind26

      My comment is apparently too short, so now I have to add useless text kind of like the menu button will for me.

    • duplissi

      im not sure if it is cm9 or part of regular ics but the menu button on my photon still works just fine, only the menu that pops up is aesthetically different.

    • http://www.androidaustralia.com.au Josh

      Ah I feel the exact same way. But i think the menu button will become the multi-tasking button on many devices.

  • Rob

    "Google's pushing hard to give the stock experience a distinct, beautiful experience."

    And they're still failing, who honestly thinks that action bar looks better than the menu?

    • Brendon

      I do, have you used a galaxy nexus? The menu key is 100% not needed

    • Joshua

      I do. I hadn't even thought about it till I saw this post.

    • Rastor

      I do. I've been using a Galaxy Nexus and this new design direction is a big improvement.

    • greg

      Wow that comment baited on you huh? Menu button is a joke, good move by google!

  • Freak4Dell

    Farewell dear menu button. I shall miss you.

    I'll hold onto my menu button as long as possible.

  • Joblabbo

    Dear Google, I hate your randomly placed 3 dots button menu button. Currently, it ruins the ICS 4.0 experience for me.

    • zee

      It's not random. An app that isn't updated to ICS standards causes ICS to add a compatibility menu button on the bottom of the screen.

      Write your letter to the app developer instead to update their app.

      • http://twitter.com/aaronmandersen Aaron Andersen

        Google can't even keep the three-dot button in the same place (see Voice vs. Maps for example), so how can they demand developers be consistent?

  • Matt

    What Google needs to focus on is having this "menu" bar at the same place on the screen.. Even in their own apps it moves all over the place.. (top bar in some apps, bottom bar in some apps) See Market and Voice, YouTube, Reader where its on the top.. Gmail and Maps at the bottom..

    • Eric Ravenscraft

      This is my biggest complaint about the Action Bar. In general, I'm torn. The Action Bar is certainly more accessible, keeping things on the surface, rather than hiding them behind a button that a user needs to be told about. On the other hand, label-less icons and teleporting buttons make things more confusing.

    • http://twitter.com/aaronmandersen Aaron Andersen

      Agree completely. The three-dot button is fine as a menu button replacement, only when needed, but not when it keeps moving. If even Google can't keep it in the same place, how can they expect app developers to do the same?

    • ZZ

      It's not the "menu button", so why does it need to be in the same place? It's an"related, but less commonly used actions which couldn't fit" button. In something like Gmail it makes a lot more sense for the email title to take all the room on the top bar, so it does.
      The on screen ui takes precedence, and since the location of the key parts of the ui changes from app to app, so does the overflow button.

  • Colin Byrne

    You can prise the menu button out of my cold, dead hands. The hardware buttons are one of the things that make Android better than the rest.

  • Athorax

    I prefer words over obscure pictures :\

    • Brendon

      Long press the icon to see what it does

  • Hooman

    I don't like the fact that there is no menu button when you are on the homescreen.

    • crankerchick

      That is the ONLY place I miss the menu button!

      • dward2828

        Why?! What would you use it for?

        • Rob

          To get to settings?
          To get to your launcher's settings?

        • Ryan B

          Nova launcher (an ICS specific launcher by the guy that created Widget Locker) already has that figured out, in a couple of different ways. You can access it either by performing a long-press, and it's just another option in the list that already includes shortcuts and widgets. ICS also has options visually available in the app drawer, and the Dev has included the three-dot menu option for launcher options there. Trust me, you'll be able to access your launcher's options sans a menu button.

        • Hooman

          @dward2828: I know that you can pull down the Notification bar to access your settings, but having a menu button to do that and as well to edit your homescreens was a better idea - IMHO.
          @Ryan B: I wanted to try that a few times but since it was in alpha phase I thought it might be better to wait a bit longer.

          and I also miss that we can't no longer long press the screen to add widgets, and have to do it from the app drawer.

      • Hooman

        yeah it's just sad.

  • Sam

    What about current physical/capacitive buttons on 90% android phones.

    • manlisten

      The hardware menu button will still work, its just redundant now.

  • Alvin B.

    So now I'll have to stare at some random pictures and try to figure out what they do??? Why are they designing phones for people WHO CAN'T READ??

    • Eric Ravenscraft

      IIRC, in ICS you will be able to long-press a button and get a tooltip that will tell you what the button does. It will function exactly the way the labels do right now, only hidden.

      For what it's worth, I agree that it's bothersome, but at least we won't be stuck. Just mildly inconvenienced the first time we need to press an odd-looking button.

    • crankerchick

      Long pressing on the on screen buttons will tell u the function if it isn't obvious from the thumbnail picture.

  • Gil

    Hooray for custom roms that add it back on the GNex!

  • jbonics

    F that I want a CPU slider in the notifications pulldown. Random reboots and lag well at least we got that home button thing worked out

  • Mike

    I guess a single general menu button makes less sense the bigger the screen and more complex apps may get, it sure is an efficient button for what we have now though.

  • dward2828

    Take it from a Nexus user, this makes sense. You'll see when you get your next phone ;-) It doesn't matter that the current generation of phones still have buttons; it has to be implemented sometime!

  • crankerchick

    I am happy with the killing of the menu button. It was just another way to confuse people as sometimes the options of an app were obtained using the menu bottom but with no visual cue to the user. I can't even count the number of times I was showing someone a feature of an app because they didn't know they could use the menu button to get to more settings that weren't on the screen. If only there was consistency with the button always being in the same place...

    • Sam

      But that is the problem of the user accustomed to 'layman' features of the iphone. Don't the iphone users go into Settings to change any of them?

      • crankerchick

        Android has settings in each application whereas on iOS, at least on the apps I have, the settings are in the main settings through the settings panel. That means always going back to home and then settings and then choosing the app to edit. That to me is the definition of annoying and too many button clicks. Eliminating a physical button for an on screen one is minor.

  • Falconator

    On the DInc2, there is a seperate bar off the screen that brings up the menu. THAT is what I like! To assume it's dead though? Really?

    I understand that Google is a huge name in the market today but to make a call like that is kinda ballsy. How about the older generation? They upgrade phones too and have more on their minds then a menu button. iPhone doesn't have a menu button and it drives me NUTS!!!! Don't follow suit... :-(

  • Jordan

    that's so stupid. Next they'll ONLY have a home button, just like iOS. damnit!

    • GergS

      Not exactly how you lept to this considering they also added the multitasking button...

      they just got rid of the 2 worst-used buttons on Android. The solutions are far better than the previous implementations.

  • Roger Sellers

    One advantage I can see to do this is recovering the screen space (if you will) being lost on the plastic cover of the phone.
    Doing so may allow for a larger screen without any overall larger dimension of the phone.

  • Stewart Higgins

    I like my capacitive buttons on the bottom. Funny how the non-nexus phone of the year had a physical button, yet we want to abolish all buttons. What's next, my volume rocker? Most phones have already lost dedicated camera buttons. It needs to stop. Some of us like buttons.

  • Spydie

    So I guess the main question is, how do we get to our "edit" button (on the samsung touchwiz to edit our home sceen) or the "preferences" button when using Launcher Pro, or our Wallpaper button (oh wait, I have to now press "setttings" then "wallpaper"? an extra step? that makes no sense. The whole idea is to make things simpler, right?)

    • crankerchick

      For the wallpaper, you long press on the homescreen. I imagine for the alternative launchers that continue to be supported in ICS, it will be the same.

  • Owen Finn

    Why stop at the "Menu" button? Why not get rid of the "Home" button too?

  • http://www.zelrick.com Zelrick

    As a Galaxy Nexus user i can say that you will never miss the menu button, however as mentioned above google needs to get their act together and enforce a default placement for those three little dots in their oen apps and 3rd party apps.

  • ZZ

    It's not the "menu button", so why does it need to be in the same place? It's an"related, but less commonly used actions which couldn't fit" button. In something like Gmail it makes a lot more sense for the email title to take all the room on the top bar, so it does.

    The on screen ui takes precedence, and since the location of the key parts of the ui changes from app to app, so does the overflow button.

    • GergS

      This. This so hard. Why does that action bar HAVE to be on the same spot? It takes roughly 10milliseconds to figure out where it is, it's not that big a deal, and makes the app much more useful.

  • Adam

    Having used both...I prefer the old school menu button.

    Please listen Google.

    Old Menu for me!

    Oh yeah...custom ROMs exist and will always fix what Google and carriers screw up.

  • DannyDarko

    I hate the fact the the menu button is gone. One of the reasons I rooted was to be able to flash a Paul MoDaCo's patch to have the menu button(3-dots) always present even when invisible. As well as the obvious privileges SU, Tether and most importantly Custom Rom's wink, wink!

    Menu button you will be sorely missed ...by my fingertips,lol.

  • crankerchick

    For those of you who like the physical button, the last I read you can still use that button to invoke the 3 dot menu. Perhaps I misunderstood but that was my impression.

  • J-Dog

    So... Basically we're taking all of the actions that would have been in the "menu button", and stashing them into the "action overflow" button....

    So if I'm in the Browser, and I want to send a link to someone rather than pressing menu>Share page I press Action Overflow>share page...

    For some reason the quote "A rose by any other name..." is coming to mind... The only real change I'm seeing is the icon is now three dots (presumably ellipsis (...)) and that it can appear anywhere on the screen (top, bottom, etc)...

    But if we're keeping the other buttons as is (even if they're now virtual) whats wrong with keeping the Action overflow button down with the others, just removing it from screens that don't have any overflowing actions?

  • greg

    Good riddance to menu button! Anyone with a nexus knows there is no need for one...wake up people

  • Juice

    You guys are ridiculous... Crying about pressing a button... Pathetic.

  • Spook Murphy

    Those electomechanical buttons are grief givers with age. Smart move Google.

    Will this take priority viewing over ads?

  • Tyler

    I use the menu button on my thunderbolt possibly more than any other button. It is way more convenient and slightly faster than pulling down the notification bar and pressing the settings button. It would take me at least a few weeks before I could really get myself to like it.
    It just seems like a completely unnecessary change.

  • mad as hell

    Oh Joy I for one HATE the search box on any of my screens... now were told its on all of them!

    Sure as hell hope the developers of the private roms remove that crap!

    -10 sucks bad move!
    at least make it an option...not every one uses that ugly thing!

    prolly one of the retards they hired from apple came up with this idea!

  • Dan

    Die, spammer. I downloaded your app just so I could rate it 1 star. Go play in traffic.

    Luis and Miguel, you both suck.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

    Given the target of the magazine experience, I would not be at all surprised to see the back button suffer the same fate very soon. If it is absolutely necessary, put it on the screen. If not, get rid of it. There is always the home button and with more RAM, the need for closing apps will be reduced significantly. I am not entirely sure I support this, but I see it as a real possibility.

    • Bradley Haggerty

      I love the menu button. Don't give them ideas to kill my other favorite button. If we lack menu and back, our apps will be just as cluttered as iOS apps. I always hated that on my iPod Touch I was stuck with ugly bars at the top of every app so I could go back or open menus.

  • Mike

    I love my menu button! Always there and it's pretty large in size to boot!! http://imgur.com/s3Obj

  • Ridiculous

    this is ridiculous, bigger screen sizes so they can fit an action bar -_-. its just so dumb then whats the point off full screen browers to begin with now that you have those three hideous on screen buttons there all the time and you need an app to hide it, on top of that you get an action bar too? so lets get this straight. bigger screen sizes to reduce bezel size, but the on screen buttons and action menu are DOUBBLE the size of capacitive buttons, AND you get even worse battery life. well played moves by google :)

  • android developer

    what about home launchers? it would take useless space for the action bar , just to have a menu button there .
    isn't it worth adding an option to show the menu button for some applications?