Android Says Bye-Bye to Buttons

Do you find that those four buttons on your Android phone ruins the lines of the device?

Would you prefer your phones front to be even more minimalist?

Well, if you’ve answered yes to those questions you may soon be getting your wish granted 🙂

Those traditional Android buttons of ‘home’, ‘menu’, ‘back’ and ‘search’ may soon disappear thanks to the launch of Android 3.0 Honeycomb on the Motorola Xoom tablet.

The Xoom doesn’t have any hardware buttons on the front – the only hard pressables it has are the volume buttons on the side and a power button on the back.

Google’s director of engineering for the Android team, Dave Burke, applauded the benefits of software buttons because “No matter how you hold the tablet, you always know where to find the buttons – on the bottom left“. Hmmm…. I’ve not really encountered that particular confusion yet.

Naturally – if you’re watching films or using the eReader then those screen-dwelling buttons can be hidden away so that you can enjoy the full-screen experience. But wouldn’t that worry those people that NEED to know that the buttons will be in the same place no matter what orientation?

Anyhooo – Burke says that Google is trying to sort out Android’s user interface to be more appealing and intuitive with Honeycomb and when its all sorted those improvements will squirt across to the mobile phone version of the software.

That’s generally taken as meaning that buttonless phones will follow buttonless tablets as the seperate tablet and phone OS’s merge back as one.

Looking at the renderings appearing on the interweblogosphere it looks like HTC may be already getting ready for the buttonless look – either that or the HTC may have touch-sensitive buttons that aren’t visible when dark a-la Google Nexus S.

Would you trust a phone with no hard ‘Home’ button? What happens if the screen freezes?

Let me know below 🙂

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