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Google Wants to Clean Up Android UI, Removes Menu Button for Better User Experience



In an effort to create a simpler, more intuitive user experience for its Android platform, Google is advising developers to do away with the menu button moving forward. As it stands, on Android 2.3 and older devices, a separate hardware navigation button is used to activate additional functions and hidden features inside an app. While it may seem like an intuitive move, novice users of the platform may not think to look there to find features.

Newer Android 3.x and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich devices did away with the hardware button in favor of on-screen soft keys. On Ice Cream Sandwich, the menu button has been replaced entirely with an action overflow on-screen key, which is designated by 3 vertical dots. According to Google still, these buttons do not ‘provide for an ideal user experience.’

Standard Android menu button replaced by 3 dots on Ice Cream Sandwich phones

Instead, on Google’s Android Developers blog, the Android OS-maker advises software developers to create apps with a friendlier action bar, which lays out commands and useful features for all to see. The move would eliminate placing the burden on the end-user to try to understand where the commands are and the user can quickly and visually scan the app when it launches to know what actions are available to them.

New Action Bar to replace Menu button on Android moving forward

Will you miss the menu button? Removal of the menu button would be the second death of hardware navigation keys. The first one, which is more U.S.-centric as international devices often lacked this button, is the search button. On Ice Cream Sandwich, Google had removed the search button and instead made a static search bar that appeared on all of the home screens on Android. I personally liked having the convenience of a search key as I can quickly launch Google Voice Actions, which allowed me to command my Android smartphone using my voice.

Via: Google



  1. Anonymous

    01/27/2012 at 7:48 am

    The goal should not be to suck up more valuable screen real estate. What is wrong with a complete, fully realized, consistent menu option instead of the cherry picked, kludged “action bar”? 

    The action bar is a bad idea. The full menu can break down options, compare them, or even offer a mini preview. The action bar can’t do any of that unless there is a two-click option (first click informs, second click activates) or a hover implementation.

    GD, google. Once you find something that works semi-reasonably, stick with it for a second or two before you blow it up.

    • JM_66

      01/27/2012 at 8:53 am

      I agree 100%.  It’s insane to change it so quickly.  If users can’t find the menu button, make it more noticable and/or consistent in location.

  2. Roarke

    07/25/2012 at 7:14 pm

    I’m in pain. I’ve been a fan of Android since the first day it released. I wasn’t even expecting to be, but I wound up enjoying Android phones for the past four years!
    I use the search button more than any other button on my Android device. First Google decides that a button that access search functions shaped like a magnifying glass is far to complicated for “novice users” and nixes it. I didn’t even expect when searching to find that they’re also getting rid of the menu button!
    The whole reason I started searching for the exact reason as to removing the search button was because I just got the latest update (and I was excited as ever, even with not having read about this one at all) because they removed the search buttons software capabilities!
    I pushed search in the android market (I still refuse to call it “Play Store” BAH rebranding) and it opened their new search app instead of utilizing the search bar in the app I was in.

    Google is catering so hard to “novice users” that it’s going to loose a large share of experienced users. I’m seriously considering RIM for my next phone… This is a sad day indeed. I never thought I’d be left with no other choices for a good smart phone.
    This does seem like a stupid thing to b*tch about in the grand scheme of things, but making stuff harder to use because “its more intuitive” is far too much like crApple for me to even want to touch it.
    Another instance is the paginated app drawer in the default launcher, with no way to switch back to how it was. I have to think to find apps instead of scroll to them. I miss the default launcher.

    If you don’t want to go back, don’t, BUT DO SOMETHING BETTER NOT WORSE.

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