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Why did Google remove the Menu and Search buttons from their phones?

Discussion in 'Android Lounge' started by dhinged, Sep 17, 2014.

  1. dhinged

    dhinged Well-Known Member
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    I used the Menu and Search buttons on my Droid RAZR MAXX all the time, but since upgrading to the Moto X I'm noticing that the menu button, if there is one, is not in the same place all the time, doesn't always look the same, and does different things. It's like an iPhone now with its whatever-wherever buttons in apps.

    It didn't confuse me on my RAZR even if it didn't do anything, because I understood it just doesn't do anything (no need for it) in that context, which was actually rare.

    Removing the static Menu button on the phone is the equivalent of Microsoft removing the right-click mouse button functionality in Windows (which just opens a menu), or making it a button you have to click in each app. Does Google think that's too complicated for users too? It's just dumbing down the interface.

    I used the Search button all the time, and it didn't confuse me when it did a contextual (app) search or a global search; I realized when it was doing an app search because it looked like the app interface, and when it was doing a global search because it looked like the global search interface. Is this really too difficult for people to understand?
     

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  2. BynoUK

    BynoUK Android Enthusiast
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    Erm, not sure what to say here really, had A HTC with a menu and search button, an S3 with a menu button and now the N5.

    I don't miss them in the slightest (actually prefer it)

    I swipe up from the bottom on the N5 if I want to perform a search and menus in apps are fine by me.

    Also I'm not sure you're in the right forum anyway as you mention the Moto X.
     
  3. GuitarG20

    GuitarG20 Clueless Senior Member
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    Hey OP would you like me to move this to the Moto X forum? Or android lounge, since this is about android in general?
     
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  4. bjacks12

    bjacks12 Android Expert
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    My Galaxy Captivate had the menu and search buttons as well. I don't recall using the search button much, but I swore up and down I could not live without the settings button.

    Turned out I was wrong. I get on just fine with my Nexus.
     
  5. dhinged

    dhinged Well-Known Member
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    The home swipe search means rather than just tapping a search button to type a search or long-pressing it to do a voice search (which my Droid RAZR MAXX did before Google disabled it), you have to swipe up to do a typing search and then tap another button (the mic icon) to do a voice search. So Google added steps to each one and makes me have to focus on it more (barely had to look at it before).

    I posted this in the Android Forums > Android Discussion > Android Lounge; I'm not sure how mentioning a Moto X as an example of a phone without a search or menu button makes it not in the right forum. Should I post in Apple's forum?
     
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  6. chanchan05

    chanchan05 The Doctor
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    Doesn't a long press already activate Google Now, and thus voice search?

    As for the Moto X thing, well some other phones allow you to customize the home button action.
     
  7. dhinged

    dhinged Well-Known Member
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    No, the Moto X is not the only Android phone without the search and menu buttons, so isn't required to make this post, it's just an example... I figured a moderator would know how the current version of Android doesn't have a search and menu button either. Maybe you'd be surprised to learn that the Nexus 5 has the latest stock version of Android too.
     
  8. dhinged

    dhinged Well-Known Member
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    Long-pressing the Home button (if that's what you meant) doesn't activate voice search. The only easy way to do that is to turn on Google Now and activate the "OK Google" thing, which still isn't as convenient as long-pressing a search button for various reasons I'll let you contemplate on.

    The Moto X is just an example because it behaves exactly the same way as the Nexus 5 in this regard.

    PLEASE stop assuming this is just about the Moto X. It's about Android.
     
  9. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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    I've never known a dedicated search button in any Androids I've had, that is search by default. It's always been Menu, Home and Back for me, on every phone I think I've had. You might be able change things around and customise them to your preferences though. I've got hold down the Home button to do Search, and hold Menu button to activate camera. I have seen some phones recently that only have Home, while Menu and Back are much more like the iPhone, associated with the app itself, Meizu was one. I didn't like it.

    This is manufacturers like Meizu, and carrier modified phones like Verizon Droid, customising Android for their devices, rather than anything Google intended. Nexus is how Google envisages things here.
     
  10. Slug

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    Two points.

    #1: GuitarG20 isn't a moderator, as his user title makes clear. Nor does he claim, or is he expected, to be an expert in all things Android.

    #2: NO version of Android EVER had "search" or "menu" buttons; these are hardware controls completely divorced from the OS software.

    My Samsung Galaxy S2 had no "search" button way back on release with Android 2.3.5, whereas my older Desire Z had one that was supported by the third-party Android 4 ROM it was running.

    It is an understandable mistake, seeing as your OP referred specifically to the Moto X. Thanks for correcting that.
     
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  11. bjacks12

    bjacks12 Android Expert
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    Your first mistake OP, is in the title. 'Why did Google remove the menu & search buttons from their phones'.

    You seem to know enough about the differences between a Nexus, a Moto X, and the Droid RAZR MAXX, but not enough to know that Google doesn't make a phone(except for the Nexus, which they actually source from LG currently)?

    Google makes software, and it's up to the individual manufacturers to integrate it with the hardware and control the experience. Why did Microsoft remove the 10 key from laptops? Oh...wait, they didn't. PC manufacturers removed them based on the size requirements of the devices or by consumer preference.

    The same thing applies here. I think the OEMs are choosing to go to a more simple interface because of the clean look. Sure, they might be following the 3-button setup pioneered by Google with the Nexus, but they are by no means required to. I mentioned in an earlier post that my Captivate had the menu, home, search, and back capacitative buttons. The international variant of the SAME DEVICE did not have the search button. Do you think this was Google or Samsung?


    I think your remarks to GuitarG20 were a little disrespectful as well.
     
  12. Gmash

    Gmash Extreme Android User
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    Let's be real. We all know this is led by Google, even if the manufacturers are not absolutely required to go along with it. For me, I could care less about the search button, I never used it, but getting rid of the menu button is absolutely idiotic. Google has a knack for reducing functionality, while at the same time making things less intuitive to use. Must take a lot of engineering skill to accomplish that feat.
     
  13. John Bean

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    I couldn't agree more, especially since apps (even some Google apps) seem incapable of adopting a standard position and logo for the menu button. Madness.

    The bottom right was an ideal location, allowing easy one-handed access (if needed) with the right thumb. But more importantly it was always there - no "find the menu" challenges with new apps.

    Fortunately some makers buck the trend and keep the bottom right soft menu button, like the bargain-priced Lenovo Yoga 10 (B8000-F) that I'm typing on right now. It shows in 99% of apps including those from Google and works exactly as expected.

    Incidentally the Lenovo is using a quite lightly skinned 4.4.2 that requires minimal configuration to make it appear almost "pure Android" - but with a handy menu button. I like it a lot :)
     
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  14. dhinged

    dhinged Well-Known Member
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    Well that's nice that you've never had those phones (actually it isn't nice because you don't know what you're missed), but I've owned two phones that did, the Droid and the Droid RAZR MAXX, and I used the menu and search buttons a lot. I frequently find myself having to go through more steps to do the same thing on the Moto X in this regard, which is identical to stock Android (in this regard).

    No, I can't change them in settings. The Droid MAXX lets you double-press the Home button to activate the camera and long-press the Multitask button to open the menu, but I couldn't find that phone in the memory size (32GB) I needed before I bought the Moto X (got ripped off twice with stolen phones, so I tried).

    Yes, I know that. That's the problem. They envisaged Android more like the iPhone, making it less distinctive and more difficult to use.
     
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  15. dhinged

    dhinged Well-Known Member
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    Guide, whatever. He has the ability to move a post, which moderators do; they can be called Czars for all I care.

    Google built functionality in Android for search and menu buttons back when all manufacturers were making them. Then they said they were deprecating it and recommending not making the hardware buttons and using the Action bar instead. Honeycomb was the turning point for this, when the Motorola Xoom (an AOSP Android device) put the capacitive buttons on the screen. Then the Galaxy Nexus came out designed by Google to remove the search and menu capacitive buttons and have basic navigation on the screen.

    Right, manufacturers could decide not to have them; Google didn't require them to, just built Android with that as the basic default/recommendation. This changed ultimately with the Galaxy Nexus. Remember that AOSP Android devices are the primary point of reference for device design, the current ones being the Nexus 5, the Nexus 7, and the Nexus 10.

    The Moto X reference was simply an example, not the all-out end-all reference for Android. I only used that example because in relation to the search and menu buttons, it behaves exactly the way Google's reference phone works, the Nexus 5. I really hate having to keep reminding posters here that the Moto X is not the issue here, but Google removing the menu and search buttons from their design, thereby recommending to manufacturers and developers to stop making phones with them, thereby limiting choice for us the consumers. Even if a manufacturer decides to add them on their phones, many developers have removed the connection between these hardware buttons and their app functions, so that you have to specifically tap their menu or search button to get that functionality to work. It just adds to the frustration because while you may have that hardware button there, it won't work in some apps simply because Google said stop using those. That's my problem. It's really not that hard to understand.
     
  16. dhinged

    dhinged Well-Known Member
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    By "their phones" I meant "the phones they designed with the manufacturers for stock Android that wouldn't have been made otherwise". All of the AOSP Android devices that moved the hardware buttons to the screen were built to Google's specifications (that the manufacturer agreed to of course). They are unique enough that I can call them "Google phones". The Galaxy Nexus, the Nexus 4 (based on the LG Optimus G), and the Nexus 5 (based on the LG G2) were all designed for stock Android specifically to have the menu and search buttons removed because Google wanted to kill them, and of course partly because of that and Google's recommendation to not use them, other manufacturers followed course for the most part. It's splitting hairs to debate whether "Google made the phone or not"; sure they didn't manufacture them or specifically design every component, but they are designed as a demonstration of stock Android, subsidized by Google, and wouldn't exist if they didn't live up to Google's minimum specifications.

    Yah, no kidding Google makes software. I would never say Microsoft removed 10-key from laptops because Microsoft never even recommended manufacturers and developers remove hardware (or support for) 10-keys from laptops. Microsoft doesn't say "Here's a stock Windows laptop that we co-designed with a manufacturer to be the way we want", they just say "Here's Windows; you can't modify it, and you can build a laptop for it or not". It's a lot different situation than Google and Android.

    The OEMs chose to go the way Google recommended (for the most part) because Google said "Don't build a phone or app with a hardware search or menu button in mind, because we want you to put those in the Action bar". If Google had not changed their philosophy on it, the Nexus 5 would have them (and they'd probably be software buttons in the bottom bar, which would be fine with me and they have room for), and so would my Moto X, and I wouldn't have even made this post if that had happened.

    Sorry I called him a moderator, but my comments are accurate; he should have already determined that my Moto X reference was an example of stock Android behavior in relation to the search and menu buttons, and not just a reference to the Moto X because the Nexus 5 works the same way.

    CLEARER CLARIFICATION: This is about Google's movement against omnipresent search and menu buttons on phones, not the Moto X specifically.

    I'm done following this thread because it's provided nothing useful outside of a nice pulse of some people saying they prefer not having these buttons omnipresent; please feel free to say what you wish.
     
  17. dhinged

    dhinged Well-Known Member
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    Here's a clarification I just found on this:

    "Before Android 3.0 (Honeycomb), all Android-powered devices included a dedicated Menu button."

    "Android no longer requires a dedicated Menu button"

    Say Goodbye to the Menu Button | Android Developers Blog

    Whether you like it or not, moving the Menu and Search buttons to the Action bar takes up valuable space the developer could use (which I've seen some developers complain about) and leaves wasted space in the bottom navigation bar; it's a bad decision by Google, and I would greatly benefit from the option to have the Menu and Search buttons put back and reorderable or removable on top of that, with a three-button default if they want to keep it simple. Google can make it happen, but they think you're too stupid to not get confused by it. Thankfully because it's a software bar, I can use an unlockable or rooted phone to add it myself, so nuff said. This is obviously the wrong place to talk about it.
     
  18. bjacks12

    bjacks12 Android Expert
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  19. mikedt

    mikedt 你好
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    TBH I've never seen any Droid phones, there being no Verizon around here. :p presumably that's the way they've been customised and designed. As I said I've never seen a Search button on any Android. And we have a lot of Androids in this country... LOL
     
  20. nickdalzell

    nickdalzell Android Expert
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    I'm still a bit frustrated at the way Samsung has made the capacitive menu key the recent key, as I keep hitting it expecting the menu action to be there, and having recent apps load instead.

    And now, holding Home which has been the universal means of launching recents now brings up Google Now, and it's bloody annoying. Starting to despise Google with their influencing manufacturers to adopt their asinine design aesthetic.
     
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