Action Bar rings the death knell for Android Menu button

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Google are planning a substantial re-jigging of their Android OS’s interface, looking in the future to do away completely with the Menu button in favour of the situation-sensitive Action Bar.

“Honeycomb removed the reliance on physical buttons, and introduced the Action Bar class as the standard solution to make actions from the user options immediately visible and quick to invoke,” wrote Scott Main over at developer.android.com.

“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 Action Bar sits at the top of the Android device’s screen. If an app offers too many options for interaction, an “overflow” button will appear on the bottom bar, depicted as three vertical dots.

“This might seem like splitting hairs over terminology, but the name action overflow promotes a different way of thinking,” added 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.”

The ultimate aim for Google is for all future Android phones to feature just three buttons instead of the current standard of four. Back, Home, and Recent Apps are set to stay.

A handful of devices already tout the three-button set up, including the Samsung Galaxy Nexus.

Gerald Lynch