Dec 09 AT 1:06 PM Dima Aryeh 17 Comments

Action overflow button now shows up regardless of hardware menu button in KitKat

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It’s hard to believe that the hardware/software menu button is still around. Google made it absolutely useless a long time ago with a wonderful implementation of on screen buttons, yet manufacturers insist on putting menu buttons everywhere. HTC’s single menu button takes up as much room as software buttons at the bottom of the display, LG’s software menu button replaces a far more useful multitask key, and Samsung slaps a hardware menu button everywhere it can, whether it’s a phone or a tablet.

If an app detected that your device had a hardware menu button, the action overflow key that displays menus would disappear from Holo apps, forcing you to use the menu button and not giving any indication that a menu is even present. However, on phones with no menu button, it would appear and indicate that a menu is present.

Google was unhappy with that implementation apparently, because Google engineer Adam Powell changed this behavior in KitKat. Instead of appearing depending on the hardware of the phone, it will always be present in KitKat. I used to use a mod on my rooted Note II to show overflow menus despite the curse of a physical menu button, so this new implementation is actually incredibly useful to me. This change was paired with this comment:

Always show overflow buttons on action bars

The menu button is not pining, it's passed on! This button is no more!
It has ceased to be! It's expired and gone to meet its maker! It's a
stiff! Bereft of life, it rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed it to a
flagship device it'd be pushing up the daisies!


It’s just sad to see how many devices still have menu buttons in this day and age. Google moved away from them starting back with Honeycomb, foregoing them completely with Ice Cream Sandwich. Why do manufacturers keep insisting on using them? Either way, this new change will be a big help to the many people who have devices with menu buttons. What do you think of this new change? Leave a comment!

Via: Android Police

Source: Google Source

Dima Aryeh is a Russian obsessed with all things car and tech. His time is split between gaming and fixing his racecar. He also does photography in his spare time.

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  • Dave

    Being and Android user since the G1 days, I couldn’t disagree more. I want a menu button on every phone. a Multitasking button is much less useful. When I put custom rom’s on my phones I always turn the multitask one into a menu button. Apparently, you feel different.

    That’s what makes Android so great. I can make it how I like it and you can make your crazy choices for you! Haha….

    • TheUser

      I couldn’t disagree more, I have no use for a menu button on my phones even when I use mods. This will be Google struggle getting ppl to understand the logical progression of technology. I have zero use for hardware buttons of any type.

      • Eli Gaffke

        How do you adjust volume then?

      • SGB101

        I couldn’t disagree more, I like the buttons, and dislike the onscreen buttons even more.

        For me the nexus7 is nest to unless, as I’m forever hitting the home button while typing.

        The main reason I see for them sticking with buttons is, if you ditch them, then all phones will look identical, a rectangle bit of glass.

    • Dima Aryeh

      This is exactly why I love Android. Everyone can get what they want. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Kirk

    I don’t care so much one way or the other if phone manufacturers put a hard menu key on the phone or not.

    As a dev I’ve never liked the feature of hiding the menu system if there is a physical menu button on the phone. Recently I’ve taken to designing my apps to show the three dot menu in the action bar no matter what. A visual representation of the fact that there are additional options to take advantage of in an application is important. I don’t think Android should have ever visually hidden this and I am glad to see that KitKat has finally addressed this!

  • Troy

    I wouldn’t about loosing the hw menu button if those sw buttons would always(!) be in the same(!) spot. But as long as I have to search the screens of each app wether and/or where those goddamned three dots are – sorry, not for me.

  • Scott

    I totally disagree. The software “back” button on iOS is so stupid. It takes up screen real estate and is at the top of the device away from all other common buttons. I feel that hiding a software menu button up there is about the same.

    I use the menu button all the time, never have a problem long-pressing the home button to multitask. I would hate having to reach to the top of my Note 3′s screen to get to commonly used menu settings.

    I can understand people who may prefer on-screen overflows and on-screen buttons the way Google would want, but to be baffled over why someone would want dedicated access to app settings within easy reach is bizarre.

    Seriously are people having that much trouble knowing where the settings are with a hardware button?

  • dillonshepherd1991

    damn. people are passionate about their buttons

    • Dima Aryeh

      YOU BET YOUR BACK BUTTON WE’RE PASSIONATE! Haha, it’s all a matter of preference really.

  • PaulieG

    Those hardware buttons in various combinations are also handy for accessing the various extended hardware services such as recovery and download mode.

  • G2

    i want hard home button.
    Hi! Here’s my humble entry. :)
    plese watch and like.

  • Clark Thomson

    I could live without my hardware menu button if Google would give you the option of moving where it shows up. Many people are using phablets today of the Galaxy Note or One Max variety and to put the action overflow in the upper right hand side is extremely out of reach. Most people hold a phablet in a position that would allow dialing a number with the phone pad on the screen (which is at the bottom of the screen). I love my large screen but if I have to use my free hand to always touch the action overflow button then I’m going to use the hardware menu button every time.

  • Richard

    The hardware buttons are one of the reasons I keep buying Samsung devices. It’s good that there will be visual consistency among devices, and as long as the hardware menu button still works t bring up that overflow menu everyone will be happy about it.

  • Paul Atreides

    Just because Google does it won’t necessarily make it the end all be all of things. Android is all about choice we seem to have forgotten. Most things Google implements OEMs of Android usually adopt and many things OEMs implement Google adopts as well(i.e. Transparent notification bar from Touchwiz). Let’s talk about Google holding back more features like Photosphere and Gel from the majority of Android users.

  • Anonymous

    The menu button is what seperates us Android power users from those Apple-loving mongoloids.

  • donger