Android kills the menu button, demands action

The menu button on Google's Android is all but dead and is to be replaced permanently by the action bar. That's the message from Scott Main, lead tech writer for developer.android.com, who has posted an article advising Android developers to change their ways.

"Honeycomb removed the reliance on physical buttons, and introduced the ActionBar class as the standard solution to make actions from the user options immediately visible and quick to invoke," he wrote. "In order to provide the most intuitive and consistent user experience in your apps, you should migrate your designs away from using the Menu button and toward using the action bar."

The menu button has already been ditched on some Android devices, such as the Ice Cream Sandwich packing Samsung Galaxy Nexus and, going forward, Google wants just three buttons on offer; back, home, and recent apps.

The action bar, that will now see more, er, action is a dedicated area that identifies the options available to the user on specific apps. It sits up top and will mean that Fandroids will need to get used to a new way of interacting with their favourite apps.

If the tasks in hand are too much for the action bar to take, users will see an overflow button on the bottom bar (three dots in a vertical row).

"This might seem like splitting hairs over terminology, but the name action overflow promotes a different way of thinking," explained Main.

"Instead of thinking about a menu that serves as a catch-all for various user options, you should think more about which user options you want to display on the screen as actions. Those that don't need to be on the screen can overflow off the screen."



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