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Soft navigation keys are desirable in post-4.0 Android device... at least for some users. Some people love 'em (and curse the likes of Samsung and HTC every time a new flagship with hardware keys comes out) and some don't. For those who don't, Good Mood Droid (whom we've featured before) has created GMD Hide Soft Keys root. It's a root-only application that gets rid of the navigation bar in all areas of the device.

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We've seen this implemented in a few different ways, mostly on custom ROMs like CyanogenMod, Paranoid Android, and AOKP. We've also seen similar apps in the Play Store, like full!screen. But this is the first one we've seen that removes the navigation bar without also removing the notification tray, which tends to interrupt the user interface in frustrating ways. GMD Hide Soft Keys hides the navigation bar without having to flash a custom ROM, which is pretty great for users who just want a little bit of customization. There's a swipe-up bar integrated into the app for normal navigation, or you can install your own alternative option, like LMT PIE. There are a ton of visual customization options, and you can auto-start the app on device startup.

At the moment the app is a bit limited: the developer has only enabled downloads for Nexus devices. We can confirm that it's available to Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and Galaxy Nexus users (you know, everyone who might need it). I'm also seeing it as available for some of my devices running custom AOSP-based ROMs, but again, GMD Hide Soft Keys isn't exactly useful when the feature is built into the ROM. Here's hoping it comes to more phones, especially smaller ones with on-screen navigation like the RAZR M, before too long. The app is a free download.

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • Krisztián Kelemen

    not compatible with my Galaxy Nexus :S strange

  • Haunter

    Why in the world would I want to hide my navibar? Seems like it'd only cause unnecessary inconvenience... as my softkeys are my only method of navigation.

    • Sootie

      swipe up from the bottom and they come back, its just to give you more screen

      • Haunter

        I don't see a lot of point in adding such a minuscule amount of screen real estate unless it's for a video, which hides the buttons 98% of the time anyway. Having to swipe up all day (pretty much every time I use my phone) just to access the home button or hit back or access my task manager just for the for the disproportionate occasion when I watch a video or play a game that might not hide the buttons for me (typically they do) is the epitome of unnecessary inconvenience.

        • Sootie

          Don't install it then ;-)

          • Haunter

            Just joining in on the conversation is all. I'm not bitching, and I won't install something I wouldn't use, but figured I'd chime in since both my main devices are Nexus devices.

          • Adnoxaei

            It's not a big amount of space, but here are people who hide the windows start bar just to get that extra sliver of screen on desktops. It seems like a similar idea to me.

          • Marcus Lee

            I use something similar on my N7, and I love it so much with LMT Launcher's pie-style controls. Especially because it's just more troublesome to navigate using the stock nav bar on a wide screen device.

            The nav bar space might not seem like a lot, but the fact that I've basically eliminated accidental presses is a huge boon.

            I doubt I can go back to using the stock nav bar now...

          • Paul

            "Why in the world would I want to hide my navibar?"
            Sounds pretty much like bitching to me.

          • Samvith V Rao


        • cryosx

          would this make it easier for landscape typing?

        • Guest

          games.. thoses mtfckrs love to get in the way in games

        • Djore

          I use this with gmd gesture control ... I can't use a device with out gesture. A single touch gesture to replace back button is the epitome of necessary convenience...

          • Haunter

            Isn't that exactly what the back button already does though? A single touch activates the button?

          • Djore

            yes , but i find the place of the back button , down in left corner , not comfort to use and sometimes out of reach of my thumb when i use my phone with one hand. I prefer a small swipe with my thumb from the right edge of the screen to the left as a back button gesture... + i prefer to have in use all my screen ...

        • Ben Freund

          Sometimes it is nice to have the option of hiding the buttons if you are singly using one application and need a bit more screen real estate, and don't really need quick access to a back button. Gaming is the most common example (and honestly removing the back/home buttons that you might accidentally press is a must in some games). Sometimes I'll hide it to fit more of a webpage on the screen on my phone in landscape mode too.

          • Ben Freund

            I use AOKP so you can swipe up to bring back the navigation buttons. And I've got a toggle in my pulldown to bring it back permanently.

    • fixxmyhead

      for games, duh

      • Haunter

        Most games already hide the soft buttons.

        • nxym


        • Colin Kealty

          If they did, how would you exit the game, "as your softkeys are your only method of navigation"

          • Haunter

            "Quit Game" in the menu. Off the top of my head, that's how I exit "Need for Speed: Most Wanted"

          • Colin Kealty

            Not many games have a way to quit, also what if you don't want to quit but just want to check that notification real quick? You wouldn't be able to hit home and after go back right where you left off, you'd have to exit all the way out and then restart, it just doesn't make sense. That's why this allows you to hide and reveal the softkeys at will. I've never come across a game that had softkeys hidden.

          • Haunter

            Maybe I'm just not noticing them in games, since most gaming I do is on tablet as opposed to phone. Most of the games I play have "Quit Game" in the menu though.

    • GMD

      Its not permanent and doesn't require reboot or something. And still it allows you to hide bar in a "few" games that do not hide it even if you don't want it hidden all the time. You can also integrate it with Tasker and alike to automatically hide it in selected apps ;).

    • lyam12

      Late at night, when I'm using screenfilter to further darken my screen, I turn off nav buttons. Why? They are too bright and screenfilter doesn't overlay the buttons.

    • Colin Kealty

      The main reason would use it would be games and other apps that might not hide the softkeys and it would be preferable if they did (example streaming full screen content in the browser)

    • Tucker

      This app in combination with GMD Gesture Control is amazing. I can do so many more things swiping in different directions from the bottom than the 3 buttons could do. It also helps with screen burn in. That is why Have been waiting on something like this.

  • Fernando

    Galaxy Nexus here in Brasil is not supported. I dont understand why.

    • Krisztián Kelemen

      just download it from xda, did the same, works great :)

    • GMD

      Solved it, should be available after Play updates cache (may take a few hours).

  • sourabh

    why would i want to hide my nav bar when its the only means of navigating the Android OS especially in nexus devoces

    • squiddy20

      So you can enjoy the full screen experience. I thought this would have been immediately apparent and fairly obvious. Guess I was wrong...

    • Justin Swanson

      because you can use LMT PIE (which gives you the PIE experience without the requirement of a custom ROM or you can toggle the navbar on/off (gives you the 48pixel rows back of your display

  • Ark

    So Expanded desktop? Like CM10.1 has had for a while?

    • Christopher Lee

      If you reread the article, you'll see it's mainly for people who /don't/ want to flash a new ROM. If stock floats your boat, it's certainly a good option

      • Justin Swanson

        That and most of the expanded desktop options I've seen tend to remove the status bar. I don't know about CM, but I know PA does.

        Edit: Ultimately comes down to what Android excels at: Options.

        • squiddy20

          In CM's expanded desktop section, they give you the option of keeping the status bar or going totally full screen and making it disappear.

    • squiddy20

      So you didn't read the article then?

  • Marcus Lee

    Does this adversely affect the ability to pick up calls like other similar apps?

    • Justin Swanson

      Shouldn't... the 'Phone' app can remain where it is.

      • Marcus Lee

        Hmm I might give it a spin then. Thanks!

    • GMD

      This is the difference from other "similar" apps - it does not affect phone call and you can access stock notification bar and recent apps list.

      • Marcus Lee

        Thanks dev, I'll install it tonight :)

  • Lazer Bear

    There is a pretty old app for rooted users that does the same, albeit with less options (and no swipe-up to restore function, it just shuts off your navbar while keeping the notification tray), it's called FullScreen Toggle). And to anyone that's wondering why would you want something like that, it's to give you more screen real estate. Of course you need on-demand softkeys like LMT or similar. My current setup involves precisely LMT and honestly I believe after getting used to it it's so much better than just having your softkeys sitting there unused most of the time. Especially when you're scrolling down long lists like rss feeds or contacts.

    • Marcus Lee

      I have the same setup on my Nexus 7! I don't use it on my Nexus 4 though, because of reports that it makes answering calls impossible.

      This app seems to be better than FST though.

  • taz89

    Have been using the beta for while and its awesome..always hated the onscreen buttons on my nexus 7 because it just made the screen a bit too small for a tablet...with this and lmt I get the full 7" where as before it was really only like 6.5"...also saved me from actually flashing custom ROM,

  • Vetal

    Cyanogenmod can do this and leave the notification bar. There is a setting in expanded desktop to allow notification bar.

    • impulse101

      AOKP leaves the status bar as well and also allows you to swipe up to bring it back. 90 percent of games only black out the navigation bar they don't hide it

  • http://www.dsaif.com/ Saif

    GMD Gesture Control is faster for navigating.

  • GMD

    Thanks for ruining my slow rollup AndroidPolice (joke) :).
    I'm really grateful that you make small indie development visible. Keep it up.

    • Ivan Myring

      Hi! I love using GMD gestures. Great work

    • Elizabeth Schemm Strickler

      will your app work on nabi 2 children's tablet?

  • jcopernicus

    Theres an app on XDA that can remove the nav bar without removing the notification tray. It's been around for years.

    • Colin Kealty

      but this allows you to do it more on the fly and gives more options

  • Annoyed

    The annoying red stripe should be invisible by default.

    • http://the-jade-domain.com Jaime J. Denizard

      Unfortunately this is a pro feature. Hey, the developer has to make money somehow. I just wish he figured out a less artificial and annoying way to do so.

  • Riko Gonzalez

    I loveee this app I've been rocking it since it came out of my Nexus 7 and Nexus 4!

  • Yesoft Canada

    Handy Soft Keys: It is a free app using which you will get navigation bar at any convenient position along the edges of the screen by drag and drop.

  • Elizabeth Schemm Strickler

    I bought my toddler a Nabi 2 for Christmas and he keeps accidentally hitting the back and home button while playing... would this app work for me?