Saturday, 28 January 2012

Google kills Menu button, brings action bar on the fore

As Ice Cream Sandwich begins rolling to more devices, you will not find the Menu button on Android devices anymore. Honeycomb 3.0 had reduced users’ reliance on physical buttons and now Google has decided to kill the Menu button and get its ‘action bar’ on the forefront. Now, action bar isn’t something new and was there, even before Honeycomb.
Menu out, action bar in
Menu out, action bar in

The Android developers’ blog states, “You might worry that it’s too much work to begin using the action bar, because you need to support versions of Android older than Honeycomb. However, it’s quite simple for most apps because you can continue to support the Menu button on pre-Honeycomb devices, but also provide the action bar on newer devices with only a few lines of code changes.” In the blog post, Google also tells its Android developers to start using the action bar, which is a dedicated space to the application and actions that users can perform. The app is recognized and gives it users several actions to choose from.

It tells developers that apps should stop relying on the hardware Menu button, and they should also stop thinking about activities using a menu button. The activities should provide buttons for important user actions directly in the action bar (or elsewhere on screen). Those that can’t fit in the action bar will end up in the action overflow. Basically, those actions, which don’t need to be on the screen can overflow off the screen. The action overflow is a three dotted icon found on the extreme right. Users can reveal the overflow and other options by touching an overflow button that appears alongside the on-screen action buttons.

So, even if an app supports older Android versions, it won’t display the Menu button for versions Honeycomb 3.0 and beyond. Those with apps developed for Android 2.3 and lower, and when running on the Honeycomb tablet of Google Nexus will see that the system adds the action overflow button besides the system navigation.

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