The leaked images of Nokia’s Sea Ray Windows Phone 7 prototype revealed a curious fact–that device lacked the three hardware buttons that were required by Microsoft at the time that Windows Phone 7 debuted–Windows, back, and search. At the time of the leak, it was thought that Nokia had special access and privilege to modify Windows Phone 7 code to create a work-around in the OS to circumvent Microsoft’s restrictions on having those three buttons, but while at the same time creating a good user experience in a button-less design. However, that may not be the case and Microsoft may very well be changing its restrictions by eliminating the button requirements with the Windows Phone 7 Mango software update.
According to famed and controversial blogger Eldar Murtazin, who has scored numerous Nokia leaks in the past, revised guidelines under Windows Phone 7 Mango will eliminate the need for the three buttons. Murtazin tweeted that phones from other manufacturers–including the prototype Nokia Windows Phone 7 device–will also sport that new button-less design moving forward.
It looks like Android may not be the only platform that will be moving towards a button-less design. With Android 3.0 Honeycomb, Google had removed the Android navigation buttons on tablet in favor of a clean bezel on the slate to allow users to hold their Honeycomb tablets in any direction that they want and still be holding their tablets in the correct orientation. Instead, Google moved those buttons inside the display as part of the OS. Moving forward, Android smartphones may also sport a similar button-less design under Ice Cream Sandwich, which will merge the best features of Android Honeycomb for tablets with Android Gingerbread for smartphones; Ice Cream Sandwich will also be the first Android platform to unify smartphone and tablet OSes into a singular, unified OS under Android.
Since Ice Cream Sandwich was made mentioned officially at Google I/O this year, numerous leaks have emerged over what the next-generation Google Nexus-branded smartphone will appear like when Google debuts its reference hardware design for developers to buy. In the past, LG and HTC were rumored to be fore-runners in being selected to design and manufacture a Nexus Ice Cream Sandwich smartphone, but a recent speculation points that Samsung may score another deal with Google in a Nexus Prime smartphone with Ice Cream Sandwich.