09
Dec
ipswitch

The physical Menu button is an interesting holdout from an earlier age of Android. While Google's devices and those manufacturers that roughly follow Google's guidelines (like Motorola and LG) don't use it, Samsung and a few others do, leaving app developers in a tight spot when it comes to implementing an overflow button. Today a Reddit user found this change to the Action Bar Policy file for KitKat in Google's Git repository.

The gist is that now API-compliant apps will always show the overflow menu button on the action bar at the top of a Holo app, rather than having it appear or disappear depending on whether or not your phone (or tablet, SAMSUNG) has a physical menu key. It's a small change, but it means that the user interface for apps that use the overflow menu button will remain constant across devices rather than shifting based on physical parameters.

buttonsmang2

Google engineer Adam Powell placed this comment on the change in Git. Because why the Hell not?

Always show overflow buttons on action bars

The menu button is not pining, it's passed on! This button is no more!
It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! It's a
stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed it to a
flagship device it'd be pushing up the daisies!

THIS IS AN EX-BUTTON!!

This change should only affect phones or tablets that have been upgraded to KitKat, so at the moment I think only the Google Play Edition devices will see it. Maybe this will finally convince certain manufactures (still looking at you, Samsung) to abandon the hardware menu button. But probably not.

Source: GoogleSource.com via Reddit

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • M1lkm4n

    Yay, my post featured on androidpolice. So proud :-D ;-)

    • Paul

      Shouldn't all that physical button hate happen at http://www.reddit.com/r/androidcirclejerk/ ?
      I mean, common. Don't try to force the death of it. There are as many people who like physical buttons as there are people who dislike them.
      Don't discriminate, tolerate.

      PS: I borrowed an Nexus 4 from a friend for two weeks and personally i wasn't able to befriend myself with those on-screen-buttons, not.. one.. bit.

      • Stacey Liu

        That's not even related to the article. Samsung can still use their hard menu buttons. It's just that the action overflow menu won't disappear from apps anymore, so you'll actually know when your menu button will be useful without any experimentation.

        • lost

          I agree with both of you - I LIKE physical menu button on S4 (and S1 and S3...), and this only makes it much better , since now I have both visual indication when menu exists (if app is new to me), and second way to access menu (if my finger is already close to screen).

          But this does NOT need to make physical menu button extinct, if anything it will extend its life ;)

  • Cherokee4life

    I still don't know how I feel about the menu button.. I loved it on my HTC EVO LTE (remapping the Recent Apps). However on my Nexus 5 I am living without it comfortably.

    • Robb Nunya

      I still hunt for it on my Nexus 5

  • ITGuy11

    Just eliminate hardware buttons altogether..

    • Wyatt Neal

      Agreed. Also, physical keyboards on phones are so 2003.

      • jamesfuston

        Tell that to Ryan Seacrest.

    • Naga Sridhar

      What? Eliminate Hardware buttons? All my iphone user friends will not know how to use their phone then!! /sarcasm

      • HellG

        lol! they can just use their "ionScreen button" :P
        *bad joke dont kill me T_T*

      • SimonPieman

        Call it a special retina button, they will be all over it, just like a cheap suit...

      • turdbogls

        sadly, most of my iPhone friends were a little confused at first on how to turn my phone on....they kept tapping the notification LED....smh

        • Naga Sridhar

          I am guessing you dont have the *ONLY* droid phone that is out there..from SAMSUNG!!

          • turdbogls

            lol, no
            that is also the first thing people ask me....."is that the new galaxy?"

        • Transflux

          They must not know how to use their own phone, let alone yours, because you should use the lock button to wake an iPhone, not the home button, even though both of them work for that purpose.

      • Adam Truelove

        They already don't know how to use their phones. They know how to text and use facebook, that's probably it.

    • numpty

      The day that happens, I will stop buying smartphones.

      • Paul Taylor

        Really?

      • Nathaniel Webb

        That'll show em.

      • Ryan Stewart

        You wont be missed.

      • Cory

        Yeah right

    • Ryan Stewart

      I really dont get the people who argue against this. Had some idiot trying ot argue that the software buttons wasted space. Same size phone I compared my nexus and the moment an app goes immersive I immediately get more screen for the same size phone.

      And then those software buttons can be environmental (and updated).

      • http://flavors.me/sabret00the sabret00the

        In general though, the you get less screen size due to the buttons that those with capacitive buttons. That's a reality. I'd still prefer on-screen though. I'm eager to see what the next LG is like.

      • Just_Some_Nobody

        If it's the same size phone (ie: 5" vs 5"), then that 'idiot' normally has MORE screen space than you. And equals you when you go all immersive on his butt.

        • gmaninvan

          But the physical dimensions of his phone need to be larger to accommodate the hardware buttons. Look at the moto x versus the s4 in size. Not to mention, the hardware buttons don't rotate when you turn your device, are not customizable, and a multitasking button is way more useful than a redundant menu button that is already one click away on the screen. Also, in the case of Samsung, the physical home button gets sloppy over time and feels loose.

          Bottom line, there are a lot of reasons on screen navigation is the better option

          • Just_Some_Nobody

            And a lot of reasons they are not. Mainly being, they are 98% of the time ON the screen, taking up space. I don't care if they don't rotate, I usually don't rotate my phone. I don't care the that bottom bezel has to be just a little bigger. I don't care that the on screen buttons are customizable as nobody does this. I actually prefer a menu button to a multitask button as i'm more likely to be using a menu than switching apps and holding down home for a two count aint that big a deal.
            I'll agree with the physical button. Capacitive is the way to go.

          • gmaninvan

            Screen real estate is pretty much the only advantage and 98% is a pretty big stretch. You also have to consider that, in the case of nexus devices, the aspect ratio actually takes into account the extra pixels for nav so the non nav part of the screen is true 720 or 1080p meaning you don't actually lose screen size. What you lose is the bottom bezel which gives you more flexibility in the same sized phone.

            As for the rest, you are missing the point. Rotation isn't a big deal beyond making the OS look more refined but the other points are. Customizability is restricted to custom ROM's but what it does allow is for hiding buttons that are currently inaccessible reducing user confusion with capacitive buttons that just don't work. Good examples of this are during initial set up or on the lock screen where home or multitasking aren't options.

            As for multitasking vs menu you are again missing the point. The menu button is already one tap away either in the top right corner or in the nav bar for legacy apps. On large screen devices where all the options are in the top bar due to no need for action overflow you are actually adding a step by clicking the menu button.

            If you really want redundancy and a larger bottom bezel on your phone go for it but redundancy is considered bad UI design from any perspective

          • Markus Ressel

            It's possible to get an "always immersive" experience when using something like LMT Launcher (also known as pie control) activated with a swipe gesture over the edge of the screen. Android stands for customizability, and software buttons are and hardware buttons are not. So imo a good thing.

          • gmaninvan

            Ya, if you use paranoid android, the pie controls make it immersive all the time with the exception of the status bar, but you can hide that as well if you want to.

          • Ian McLerran

            In my experience with touch capacitive buttons (I owned a GS2 with 4 of them prior to my nexus 5) touch capacitive buttons tend to be laggy, and do not always work immediately after the device has been woken up. This frustrated the hell of me. I also found this to be true on a friend's S3.

            On the other hand, on-screen buttons never lag, and are context appropriate. They disappear when not headed, and allow a device with a larger screen to have a smaller physical presence.

            Moving to a single interface also simplifies the lives of developers, as they do not have to write code for more scenarios.

          • mma173

            Something I don't like with devices that have 'on screen' buttons is that they have a big space in the place where the hardware buttons used to be. Why can't they reduce that gap in the bottom?

          • Ian Santopietro

            A lot of phones do reduce the bottom "chin" quite a bit compared to those with non-on-screen buttons. Look at the Moto X. Apart from that though, you still need a place to put hardware inside the phone, and sometimes you need to add space at the bottom of that. Plus, big side bezels on the top and bottom are more aesthetically pleasing.

          • mma173

            Moto X is OK

          • Zomby2D

            The S4 is slightly bigger but it also feature a larger screen. You lose more on-screen space than you gain from the slightly thinner bezel.

          • gmaninvan

            Slightly bigger? Are you kidding me? Have you seen these devices beside eachother? The Moto X is incredibly small for its screen size. You don't lose anything. Look at it this way, if the Moto X was the dimensions of the S4, it would actually have a larger screen.

          • Zomby2D

            The screen of the S4 occupies 72.18% of the device's front while the screen of the X occupies 72.17%. If the X was the same size as the S4, the screen would still be a hair smaller. And you would still lose some screen real estate for the software buttons.

          • gmaninvan

            I just ran the numbers and you are right, well not on the actual numbers. It is actually more skewed. Moto X is 68.8% and S4 is 76.1%. This is because the S4 uses a smaller top bezel.

            However, the Moto X makes better use of that size by not having to accomodate the buttons. If you hold both devices, the Moto X is substantially smaller.

            A better example of this would be the upcoming Sony's or maybe even the G2 as the vast majority of the front is the screen.

      • ad

        Well, that "idiot" has makes a far better point than you.

      • Javier Maria Casares

        Yes because it makes more sense in a 5" phone to move your hand to the top to access the menu. It seems Google developers are from another planet. They have long hands so they can use their phone with a single hand without doing some juggling. The example is Google Play store, I can't use this product without two hands by now and I was able to do it before.

        We have a lot of geniuses here...

    • UniBroW

      generally I agree, however, on a phone that's in a car dock reaching for that physical button is nicer than on screen buttons. There's pros/cons to both though and I do generally prefer on screen buttons

    • joeljfischer

      That's what google's been trying to do for 2+ years. Samsung refuses.

      • Zomby2D

        And that's one of the reasons I keep buying Samsung phones.

        • Cory

          Well Samsung won't have a choice soon. Join the future.

          • Damak9

            It will be hacked.

          • Cory

            Yeah by those who want to live the past. It is time to let it die and just move on.

          • Damak9

            This "streamlining" of Android features has to stop. It's not about living in the past, but rather unifying set of ideas Google finds adorable. And it's not only about the button, it's about the expandable memory and removable batteries too. Android was supposed to be THE open platform with plenty of variety to chose from, not the new iPhone.

          • Cory

            No. The streamlining needs to continue. Expandable memory is outdated tech. It slows down the phone and causes severe lag. It is old outdated tech, Also no need for a removable battery. It is just a waste.

          • Zomby2D

            How is expandable memory outdated tech? It doesn't slow down the phone in any way unless you buy a really cheap low-speed card and actually install apps on it instead of the internal memory. (Something that's not allowed since ICS unless you hack it in.) Having extra storage capacity doesn't slow down anything, and most of the class 10 cards are actually faster than some phone's internal memory.
            If that's streamlining you want, go buy an iPhone. You will get that unified bland experience you're so craving for.

          • Cory

            Because it is outdated tech. And is not needed. Actually yes it does. It has been proven to be one of the reasons that Sammy phones lag so much. Well that and the crappy Touchwiz. SD Cards just create lag. That's all they are good for. You bring up the iPhone and it has nothing to do with the conversation you. You aren't very intelligent are you? Stop living in the past.

          • Zomby2D

            So, basically, you have no argument. "It's outdated tech because it's outdated tech". Looks like you do not have the required intelligence to hold a conversation. And I'd be interested in seeing your so-called "proof" about SD Cards causing lag on any phone, because unless you move your app on it with app2sd and are using a very cheap Class2 card, it's actually been proven that it makes absolutely no difference in phone operation. It just gives you extra storage space. I'm not living in the past, I'm just trying to prevent the future to be shaped by idiots like you who would take choice away from the rest of us because you don't use or like a particular feature.

          • Zomby2D

            If your future is about taking choices away from the user, then it's a pretty bleak one. Some people like for their buttons to eat up the screen real-estate, I don't. Not on anything under 8" anyway. As long as the physical menu button opens the on-screen menu the same way tapping on it does, everyone will be happy and there will be no need for backward thinking like yours.

          • Cory

            It isn't taking choices away from users. It is giving users a unified experience. Different. Not taking choice away in anyway. Also on screen buttons don't take up any more screen real estate than captive and physical buttons. In fact with on-screen buttons the bezel is able to be thinner. And the On-Screen buttons do go away when watching a movie or playing a game. So again they aren't taking up any screen real estate. And again no one is taking choice away.

          • Javier Maria Casares

            Let's remove all languages, because having English only is giving users a unified experience. Yeahhh... go ahead. Let's see... 60% of Android sales are Samsung devices so democratically we should remove on screen buttons. The majority made a decision already.

            http://bgr.com/2013/11/08/samsung-android-devices-market-share/

          • Cory

            Yeah you clearly are not worth my time because you can't comprehend.

            Google is the master of Android if Google wants no physical buttons that's they way it will forever be. Time to move on.

            And if you think Samsung devices sale well because of physical buttons you clearly don't understand the mass consumer. And their is only one reason Sammy has them.

          • Zomby2D

            You're saying Samsung won't have a choice to remove physical buttons, how's that not taking choice away from me when my choice IS to have physical buttons. By that same logic, forcing everyone back to using physical buttons wouldn't be taking a choice away from you either right? The majority of Android devices sold have them anyway so let's go with the majority and force them back everyone's throat so we can all have a unified experience.

          • Cory

            Wrong. The vast majority of android devices sold DO NOT have physical buttons.

          • Zomby2D

            63% Samsung (with pyssical button) vs 47% others some with, some without. Majority DOES, unless you do math in a different way as the rest of us.

          • Cory

            That proves what? That people buy Sammy for the physical button? Afraid not. They buy Sammy because it is whats popular because that's what everyone else has. Their is no use for physical buttons. it is a waste of bezel space. People do not care about physical buttons. If you want a psychical button buy an iPhone. That is the only reason Sammy has a a psychical button. It is people like you that hold back the future. Let the buttons die, Let microsd die. Both are outdated.

          • Zomby2D

            "That proves what?" That there are more devices sold WITH physical buttons than without. I never said anything about it being the reason people buy them, I just proved my point that more devices sold do have them. The fact that you personally find a feature to be useless doesn't mean it's useless for millions of others.
            You find physical buttons to be a waste of bezel space, and I find software buttons to be a waste of screen space. 90% of the time I'm not in games or watching movies so the immersive mode is not helping a bit. Soft buttons are just taking useful data away from my view.
            And I can't consider a phone without MicroSD because I need to be able to carry around 50 Gb of Data along with me (not including apps/music/photos) and it's much cheaper to buy a $30 card than to pay an extra $100 every month to get the kind of data plan that would allow me access to some of it, in a slow and unreliable fashion.
            If you're a 12-yo kid that uses his phone only for gaming and videos, then buy something that fit your needs. But don't try to dictate what the rest of us need based on your personal preferences.

          • Cory

            And it is people like you who are holding us back.

          • Zomby2D

            So, people who actually use their devices are holding you back... from what exactly?

          • Javier Maria Casares

            It's useless to reason with foolish people that believe choice should be removed because they are just right and the rest of people is wrong. I'm not worth his time but then he continues writing. I believe he has some dual personality. :P

          • Cory

            No one is removing choice you moron.

          • Zomby2D

            Yet, you're advocating for the CHOICE to use hardware buttons and extra storage be removed. I think you don't even understand what you're typing. The only moron in this conversation is you.

          • jak

            You want a damn hardware button? Get an iPhone. True android fans don't want hardware buttons.

          • Zomby2D

            True Android fans want choices. That's what the OS is about. Being open and allowing customers to make their own choices.
            If you don't want hardware buttons, just get a phone that doesn't have them and stop trying to impose your view on everyone else. In the meantime, I have a phone that fits my preferences and I'm happy about it.

          • Cory

            You are holding the future back by clinging to your old tech.

          • Zomby2D

            So, what you mean to say is that you have no idea what we're holding you from with our supposedly "old tech"? You make the same claim over and over without ever being able to back them up with anything. I'm guessing you're just not smart enough to come up with anything more than petty insults towards anyone who has different needs than you do.

          • MathIsHard

            There's 110% Android phones sold?

          • Zomby2D

            LOL! Yeah, that should have been 63% + 37%. Typos can be funny.

    • http://www.toysdiva.com Toys Samurai

      I like onscreen buttons, but frankly, I don't see what the hate of hardware buttons is all about -- Look, it's absolutely evil not following some kind of standard when positioning hardware buttons, but the buttons themselves aren't necessarily a bad thing. For example, I always think that a physical button that trigger Google Now is helpful, so is a camera trigger.

    • René Simonsen

      Eliminate hardware buttons? Lots of people use volume rockers volume/changing tracks without having to take their phone out of their pockets. How would you even turn on a phone where there is no hardware power button? The power is off, so software buttons do not work.

      • Bojan Tomic

        They meant on the front. -.-'

      • ITGuy11

        I was referring to hardware navigation buttons, not power and volume buttons..

        • René Simonsen

          You weren't very specific, and it very much looks like you meant remove all hardware buttons. Maybe I'm taking things too literally

          • Brendan Dillon

            You are. Most people will know exactly what was meant. Especially if they read the article.

      • http://twitter.com/anishbhalerao Anish Bhalerao

        That's enough out of you.
        Now where are my sandwiches?

      • Guest

        I just slide to wake or double tap my screen to wake it.

  • João Magalhães

    My Xperia J still has it and I use it quite often, it's one more shortcut with Nova Launcher Prime.

  • baza58

    In your face, SAMSUNG!

    • Zomby2D

      Yeah, having the menu on-screen as well as from the menu button will surely show them!

  • Owen Finn

    So I'm assuming those phones with physical menu buttons will just open up the menu when pressed?

    • KoRRo

      yes. at least in my old phone when i forced the visible overflow button it acted like this.

  • KoRRo

    love it. i always forced it in my old phones, it's so much better. even if someone preferes to use the hardware button having the overflow visible is a good thing because it helps the user to know if there is other options or not.

  • Thomas Kaupp

    Samsung will only abandon the hardware menu button if Apple does so first.

    • Krisztián Kelemen

      apple never had a hardware MENU button

      • burkett375

        WOOOSHHH!!! haha

      • Thomas Kaupp

        You're right of course, but I think you know what I was trying to say...

        • Krisztián Kelemen

          sure, but still, it came out funny :D

  • duse

    Good, the Menu key is about the worse piece of UI design in history. A button that's always visible but may or may not do anything, per screen, per app. Wonderful. Samsung's inattentiveness to the issue is not surprising given their own UI design.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

      This does nothing to eliminate the physical button. Samsung will continue using it for all we know.

      • duse

        Yes I understand that and I don't expect Samsung to change course, but it's a step. At least users of those devices will now get the UI discoverability they should be. All that's needed at that point is a simple method to map Menu to Recents if a user was so inclined....is there a way to do that on stock ROM with just root?

      • Casin

        Does this mean that when my S4 gets updated to KitKat, all apps will automatically show their overflow icons instead of forcing me to press menu?

        • Stacey Liu

          Yessir.

        • Zomby2D

          Yes, and if the update is done right, pressing menu will show the overflow icons. That way, everyone wins: consistent UI and functional hardware. There's no reason we can't have it both ways.

  • Tjaart Blignaut

    New Android users consistently miss the menus entirely because they forget about that stupid button, and when I head back to a Samsung device I also tend to miss it. Death to the hardware menu button!!!

  • black

    Samsung's buttons are what set it apart from other devices. That and cheap plastic....zing!

  • Robb Nunya

    Yes.. because the fucking RECENT APPS button is SO much more useful... (/sarcasm)

    • Jens Knutson

      Well, yes, it is.

      • richie97

        Agreed. I love that multitasking button.

      • Robb Nunya

        Well, no it isn't. It's a waste of my time. I don't need a dedicated button to remind me of the last X number of apps I just ran. Instead, I have to hunt for my menu button depending on the app since not all developers are up to speed, so it's a major PITA to use certain apps.

        Note: I've remapped my buttons on one of my phones to ensure that I have a menu button (I used the recent apps with a long-press for recent apps that I've used maybe once), and it's glorious.

        Whatever happened to Android being about what I want instead of what Steve Jobs... err Larry Page wants?

        • richie97

          So you're for the menu button in the Action Bar then right? Since you didn't like hunting around for it? Now it's always in the same spot! Lucky you.

          Or did you like having a menu button that wasted space if the app didn't actually have a menu? Maybe you liked the roulette game of "does this app actually have a menu" if I press that menu button?

          • Robb Nunya

            Wow... I'd press it once, figure out that it doesn't have a menu, and never press it again for that app. Wow. What an inconvenience. MUCH more inconvenient than having to hunt around for the menu button Whooo!

          • gmaninvan

            Hunt around? There is literally two places in your small 5" screen that it could be lol. Top right or in the nav bar. This literally takes milliseconds to figure out.

          • richie97

            So you see this as a good change then? I mean it seems your biggest issue is having to hunt around for a menu. Now it's always in the same place on every device with KitKat.

            +1 Google.

        • youdecide

          ..err what you want? I'm glad you are in a position to decide.

        • Abhijeet Mishra

          Er, it's not to remind you of what apps you ran, rather it's for switching quickly between the apps you might be using at the moment. You probably don't multitask much, or don't want the convenience of quick switching, but the recent apps button is a great boon.

          • Robb Nunya

            I'm not as ADD as I used to be. That being said, allowing me to CHOOSE is what I want. Like I said, if I'm allowed to set my long press to recent and my short press to menu. I'm as happy as a clam. (Thank you Nova Launcher for understanding that the Apple... err Google way isn't always what's best for everyone)

          • Imparus

            "I'm not as ADD as I used to be."
            You never was ADD Robb Nunya, if you was you would have been bothered by the fact that you sometimes would have a menu button when it wouldn't do anything because the app/screen you are in doesn't have a menu, like when you are on the first page of setting. This creates a problem where you have no information whatever or not there is a menu on the screen you are on, unless you have used it before and can remember it. Something like that would be quite bothering to an ADD person.

            "MUCH more inconvenient than having to hunt around for the menu button Whooo!"
            you are so right, it is not like you can see all the content with a normal gaze, and the first thing you do when downloading a new app is click on the menu button. Then there is also the fact that you might have seperate menu button for something like a google now card, good luck handling that with a physical menu key.

        • gmaninvan

          Really easy solution to this. Don't use non holo apps. Not only does this help move the platform forward it helps with your usability. Everyday I see apps doing holo redesigns. This is due to Google ranking them higher in the play store.

          On your second point, it just doesn't hold up. It is always made clear where the menu button is with on screen navigation. Either top right or in the nav bar for legacy apps. You also create redundancy with the action overflow. What if that app doesn't have enough options on your screen size to need the overflow? More redundancy. This is particularly funny in the Note 3 because the screen is so large that usually most of your options are in the top bar and accessible in one tap but you choose to do it in two taps because you access it from the app menu.

          As for the multitasking button. You need to reevaluate how useful this is. Especially if you are bouncing back and forth between two apps. There us no quicker way to navigate your phone. I know I use it multiple times per day

      • nofearofimaginarymen

        I know I use it all the time but I don't always need to go into the settings of an app. Normally once I have my settings where I want them, I leave them alone. Break the wrist, walk away.

    • mgamerz

      mmm yes, try reading a screen from another app when you're trying to type something into another. That tiny thumbnail is handy. [seriously, i've used it]

  • TY

    Following guidelines? Motorola yes (+HTC, Sony, ASUS and some others). LG no. Despite using on-screen nav bar, they put the menu button in it.

    • Kompre

      LG even trolls you: give you the chance to map the on-screen button, but no to the multitasking function!

      • Abhijeet Mishra

        Optimization, good software design, and sticking to guidelines are some things both Korean manufacturers suck at.

    • Ivan Myring

      HTC? With their two button layout?

      • TY

        What they did was simply to map the multi-task button to home-double-tap. Not ideal, but much better than putting a physical menu button in. At least it doesn't affect how one interact with apps.

    • Guest

      They actually all do that. The menu button will appear in the nav bar in legacy apps that don't use the holo guidelines

  • CeluGeek

    Sorry to burst the purists' bubble but I don't see how this change affects devices with a Menu button. You just press the Menu button and it drops down the menu from the overflow.

    If Google didn't want manufacturers applying their own spin to Android, they should've made Android as closed as Windows Phone or iOS. You wanted openness? Deal with it.

    • MeCampbell30

      Samsung is free to modify the ROM all they want. Just don't cry when your phone doesn't get fast updates.

    • Dennis Ulijn

      Leaving Samsung with that openness will be the death of an open Android and opens doors to forks that'll only kill the unified Android experience.

      • gmaninvan

        That is where you are incorrect. Samsung can't successfully fork android unless they can survive with all the Google apps off of their devices, including the play store. Samsung apps is a joke but that is exactly why it is preloaded on phones.

        Google has actually taken some clever measure to make this harder for them. An increasing amount of apps are integrating play services into them. This includes Google maps integration, play games, Google+ sign in, and Google now searchability.

        Samsung has a better shot making Taizen popular than forking android and even that is a stretch. The menu button is Samsung's way of giving Google the middle finger since it is all they really can do

        • Dennis Ulijn

          The Play Services is the only reason Samsung can't fork anymore. The App Store they were building (not talking about quality nor quantity here) could handle the app part. Whenever users demand an app, they simple 'port' (as it's the exact same software) it over to their own store. Luckily Google nipped this in the bud, because it was a matter of time before Samsung made the leap and users didn't miss the Play Store because there was a store anyway.

          Another argument for the menu button is that it's simply breaking some logic on Samsung devices. For the life of me, I can't figure out why anybody doesn't want the back button on the left, as that's where the past is for most people on this planet (back buttons on browsers, etc.). But even if they did place the menu button right, it's breaking Android's design guidelines (which are indeed guidelines, not strict rules) with the overflow menu in the top right. It's a rudimentary hardware menu button limitation, but right now it's being used to create a Samsung ecosystem inside the Android ecosystem. Play services are Google's way of ensuring Samsung will not leave the Android eco system.

    • Imparus

      "You wanted openness? Deal with it."

      Isn't that excatly what they are doing?

    • Stacey Liu

      You'll know beforehand when your hard Menu button will be useful. That's why it's important.

      You won't have to play a guess and check game every time you open a new app to see if your menu button will have any function.

  • Andrew Small

    I just noticed this, but I also noticed one notable Google app that's not following this behavior for some reason: Chrome Beta. It still hides the on-screen menu button.

    • gmaninvan

      Chrome has the menu button in its normal location, top right corner, next to the tabs button. With that said, I do think chrome is lagging behind the other Google apps when it comes to holo design. I would love to see a left side slide out nav drawer like the rest of the modern Google apps. I would also like to see them switch from the get to the red and white color scheme

      • Andrew Small

        I've got Chrome Beta running on a Galaxy S III (complete with physical menu key) with KitKat. I just see the tab switcher, while the play store and other apps now show the overflow menu, when they didn't before on 4.3.

        • gmaninvan

          You probably don't see it because you have a menu button

  • deltatux

    Once you go on-screen buttons, you can't go back. You get so much more flexibility, especially if you've modded your phone (PIE). This will piss off people with hardware button but someone has to nudge manufacturers to ditch the hardware button. I thought the same initially when I was transitioning from my old Nexus S to the Nexus 4, worried that without the hardware button, things would be harder or just not the same, but once I jumped on the Nexus 4, losing the hardware button made things much better and made much more sense.

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      To be honest, for majority of consumers, there's no flexibility, since Android doesn't let you customize those buttons outside custom ROMs and hackery, which most people don't do. They'll likely come some day, but like the immersive mode took so long to come (it should've been there from ICS, from the start, but Google is always slow at these things), customizable software buttons will probably take a long while as well.

      • AOSPrevails

        G2 allows you to rearrange/add on screen buttons, that required no custom Roms or hackery.

        • Tuấn Ankh

          Majority of the consumers don't have a G2 either.

    • nofearofimaginarymen

      I agree. I now have a nexus 5 and love the onscreen options vs my old evo lte. I also have N7 and use pie controls to give me a little extra screen real estate when going through powerpoint files. I do not miss capacitive touch buttons one bit.

    • Abhijeet Mishra

      Oh, and I also don't think onscreen buttons are the answer. I would love if the multitasking, home, and back button were used by everyone, but even with immersive mode, I'm not keen on wasting estate and having to swipe up from the bottom for those onscreen buttons if they're hidden in an app. I was a onscreen button proponent for two years with Nexus devices, but I've grown past them with the Note 3.

    • taz89

      I have a s4 and nexus 7 and I still can't get over the fact that I lose almost half an inch to those on screen buttons. I know kitkat has Introduced immersive mode but apps have barely started to use it and even before kk apps were not being updated properly to hide the onscreen buttons. I'm all for onscreen buttons if it makes the device smaller too but many oems still make onscreen decided phones like z1 example and nexus 5 still the same size or even bigger than a hardware buttoned phone like the s4 . as I said I don't hate on screen buttons am all for but while apps are still not using the immersive mode properly I would much prefer hardware buttons as I am guaranteed to get full screen on all apps I use.

      • mgamerz

        Nexus 5 is also smaller than the S4. (IIRC)

      • gtg465x

        Motorola has done a pretty good job with this. It has on screen buttons and the bottom bezel is tiny. I agree though. If you're going to use on screen buttons, at least make the bottom bezel smaller than on other phones. Otherwise it's kind of pointless.

        • taz89

          Yep the moto X is the perfect example of what onscreen buttons can mean for a device size. It's very close to the size of an iPhone even though it has a bigger screen.

    • Simon Belmont

      Yeah. I adjusted to onscreen buttons really fast after getting my previous phone, a Galaxy Nexus (came from an EVO 3D), and now, my Nexus 5.

      It probably helped that I had already been using onscreen buttons for a long time, though, with my B&N Nook Color, HP TouchPad, and 2012 Nexus 7. I just prefer onscreen buttons.

  • Abhijeet Mishra

    Samsung likely won't change the menu button anytime soon. It's a change that millions of users will have to go through, something they probably don't want even though it's better to have a multitasking button instead. Google finds it easy to keep changing things around every Android version (something that I don't always appreciate), but I'm sure it's not that easy for Samsung considering they hold such a large part of the market. And, of course, like LG, they're stubborn as well, so that's another thing.

    • gtg465x

      Google doesn't keep changing this around with every Android version. The button layout on Nexus devices has stayed the same since Ice Cream Sandwich was released on October 19, 2011 (really since Honeycomb, but I won't count that since it was for tablets only). More than two years. I think it's safe to adopt that button layout at this point without fear of it changing again.

      • Abhijeet Mishra

        Yeah, I was talking more in general, not about the buttons. But come to think of it, yeah, Google doesn't exactly change major stuff.

        • gtg465x

          Yeah, I think this was a much bigger concern in the early days of Android. Things would drastically change from one version of Android to the next. Ever since ICS though, Android hasn't seen a major redesign or any life altering changes like back in the old days. Maybe that will change when 5.0 is released. Who knows.

  • Lirodon

    Why doesn't everyone just do what the HTC One does and go Home/Back only? :P

  • Simon Belmont

    Haha. I love that Monty Python sketch.

    Perfect way to retire the menu button (even if Samsung will insist on still including one, I'm sure). Well, at least for KitKat and up.

  • Jeffrey Smith

    About time.

  • Tuấn Ankh

    I like the menu button on Samsung phone. It's very convenient fpr one hand use, especially on the Galaxy Mega. And then Google Chrome is also messed up now. Sometimes I open it and the screen doesnt show the options on top. I have to hit the menu button and choose New Tab from there. But even on my other 4.7" phone (BLU Life Play), I used the menu button a lot. I would rather have it than than the multitask button.
    Also, I prefer having buttons out of the display.

    • JM17

      How the hell do you manage to use 1 hand on a galaxy mega?

      • Tuấn Ankh

        lol, I can. Not always, but most of the time.
        It was tricky at first, but now I'm all good, and now a 4.7" phone feels like something mini to me.

  • Lamm

    Ì own a Samsung device and I like the menu button :(

    Also, I'm not really a fan of using part of my expensive amoled 600ppi (lol) screen to render black and white buttons all the time, I`d rather have then as touch sensitive buttons outside the screen, like in the old motorola milestone/Defy/Atrix.

    • gtg465x

      They aren't saying the buttons have to be on screen here. They're just saying the menu button should go. You Samsung guys don't know what you're missing not having a dedicated app switching button. It's amazing how fast you can switch between apps and get things done without having to double tap or long press a button to get to the app switcher.

      • DJ SPY

        Well, I'd rather have the multi window support from those Samsung guys than the multitasking button.

        • cmikeh2

          Cause you can't have both?

  • Anthony Tyson

    They'll never get rid of it. Samsung is clinging to it forever. They know the general public is too stupid to not have a menu button on android.

  • godutch

    Today on reddit but I think I read this news on AP already last month

  • smeddy

    Interesting, I still love my hardware button (Note) but maybe I'm a dinosaur

  • Udayan Banerji

    Menu button is awesome. It is at the bottom of the device, easier for the thumb to reach, and it is always at the same place. This is one of the "advantages" of using an Android phone. The menu is always at the same place. I don't what you guys are hating it for.

    • Bjajjull

      Beacause you don't praise Matias Duarte.
      #HOLOYOLO

    • http://twitter.com/anishbhalerao Anish Bhalerao

      Your post screams: "Hey I bought a $600 Samsung, now let my menu button bathe in the sunlight please!"

      Now that we've gotten THAT out of the way, your argument is invalid.
      Menu button is ALWAYS at the same place for phones without the hardware menu button. And it is equally easy for the thumb to reach there as well (I don't need a THUMB EXTENSION SURGERY to get to the menu button on-screen!).

      Menu buttons are only used for specific parts of the app, not ALL THE TIME. So clearly, having it on there all your life really makes no sense. The app switcher makes much more sense and is useful as it can be & needs to be used from ANY screen, ANY time.

      But then you won't see sense in what I (and Google) are trying to argue here, because your hardware menu button came at a price of 600 Samsung dollars.

      • Udayan Banerji

        First of all, calm down. People can have different opinions. I can see why you are only an "occasional genius"

        Anyways, on-screen buttons are good, hardware buttons can be annoying, yes. But the ugliness of on-screen buttons when watching Netflix and other fullscreen apps is beyond words. Moreover, Google has not been consistent with their menu buttons. Android Police had an article about it, and in general it used to be a mess, comparable to the mess of confusing settings / options on an iPhone.

        In that regard, having a menu button which does not eat up screen real estate is good for me.

        Though I DO NOT feel the same way about the physical home button. I wish they were also capacitive touch like the menu button.

        • http://twitter.com/anishbhalerao Anish Bhalerao

          There is NO QUESTION of the NavBar and NotifBar taking up "real estate" as you speak of.
          Ever heard of immersive mode on Android 4.4+? The buttons just disappear leaving the ENTIRE screen for the app's use, and are just a flick/touch away from reappearing.

          Immersive mode works for everything, including the ones you've mentioned- NetFlix and "other fullscreen apps".

          True that Google has not been consistent with its overflow menu in the past, but since the last 12+ months, all Google apps (and fairly many others) have had a very consistent placement and working of the overflow menu button.

          Coming to your "opinion" of having a dedicated hardware MENU (overflow) button and even so, NOT a dedicated hardware App Switcher button makes lesser sense too. When in-game gameplay is on, the overflow button hardly ever does anything in games, and very rarely does something in other fullscreen apps. The App Switcher, on the other hand, works anywhere and everywhere.

          To sum it up, firstly, a dedicated 24-hour hardware OVERFLOW MENU button makes absolutely no sense... an App Switcher makes some at least. And secondly, if I may, with immersive mode available for extensive use, hardware buttons only eat up the phone's form factor's REAL ESTATE.

          So yes, you can have opinions. Yes you can make love to your hardware menu button. But if the reasoning is as cold as your initial post states, it will make little sense and draw some flak. (read 8 downvotes). The downvotes are for the reasoning, not the opinion.

          • Zomby2D

            Problem with immersive mode is that the apps will need to be updated to take advantage of it. Although I'm sure some of the bigger titles are going to update rapidly, there are the others who don't even bother hiding the buttons on playback. Plus this immersive mode doesn't really apply to anything that's not game or video related. I personally prefer my buttons off-screen on anything with a screen under 8" in size. Not only do I conserve screen real-estate but I find it easier to navigate with a single hand that way.

  • MeCampbell30

    The system bar really should be limited to system functions (app switching, home, back) and menu functions should be app specific. Its just more logical that way.

  • Toboe

    And now Google, make pressing the MENU button open the Overflow-MENU...

  • MasterGlink

    Why are hardware buttons so bad? The only thing I disliked about hardware buttons was that they were not actual physical keys. I actually hope Samsung and other manufacturers take a stand on this.

  • http://www.emuparadise.me/roms-isos-games.php rarely online

    My only problem with recent apps getting its own button is the limited utility unlike home and back which is frequently used. To let me justify having a recent apps button I had t add long press to expand desktop otherwise I would've got rid of it.

  • Cory

    Thank god.

  • Lalit Mali

    1. Tapping the bottom of the phone is easier than reaching the top
    2. Things like these shouldn't be forced onto companies. The Galaxy S5 design maybe having a menu key. And this is so uncool from Google if Samsung can't get around it.
    3. Redundancy(or menu button going useless) on existing phones. And content-space decreased on the action bar.

    Menu button isn't/wasn't as bad, people.

    • Lalit Mali

      On the other hand, there's a dedicated, persistent software button for recent apps. Now how often do people use that?

      • HardwareKeysAreTerribadLikeYou

        I use my recents key many times a day, I rarely need to hit the menu button.

      • https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=Piotr+Zientarski Piotr Zientarski

        lol, more than home button (recent button -> swipe app to close)

    • Steven S

      who gives a crap if samching doesn't like it ... they obviously need to be reminded that their devices are running Google's Android, with nothing samching about it besides overpriced hardware, a visual skin and tons of useless, buggy bloatware

  • KlausWillSeeYouNow

    I like the menu button! :-/

  • Paul Tobeck

    Monty Python FTW!

  • http://www.androidnext.de/ Frank Ritter | androidnext.de

    those manufacturers that roughly follow Google's guidelines (like Motorola and LG)

    LG actually implemented the old school menu button in the LG G2, as a software button in the navbar! This is actually the worst of both worlds.

  • mesmorino

    It's an "ex button" in the same way there are "ex-memory cards" and "ex-removable batteries"

    Google needs to calm down with all these pet design ideas that nobody asked for, I mean what's with all the hate for menu buttons anyway? Honestly, it's like some jackass wakes up everyday and shits out these ideas, and every week Google holds a lottery to decide which one of them will be implemented for shits and giggles. Who knows what they'll fiddle with next?

    Consistency is one thing, but trying to force something onto people because YOU like it is another story entirely. Nobody asked for this. The menu button is ALWAYS there, and ALWAYS does what I expect it to do- Show me a menu. The Overflow button may be there, may not be there, and when it's there may not necessarily show me what I was expecting. And this is somehow supposed to be better than what I have now? Right.

  • Semianonymous

    I'm using a note 2 with paranoid Android. I'm using pie (just the nav buttons, I've kept the status bar albeit in phablet mode) and I've fully disabled the back/menu button. Pie allows for a simple set of sliding gestures that can perform the back action, go home, open gnow or open the menu. I've kept the physical home button alive because its a nice panic button, its harder to ignore its presence and its a good wake up button (plus, hold home for voice command).

    Its easily the best, most elegant method of using my phone I've ever tried, and I've been in this game since the g1. Pie should be incorporated into aosp as an alternative to on screen buttons.

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