Yes, Your Android Buttons Will Still Work with Ice Cream Sandwich


There has been some confusion over a very simple question regarding Android 4.0: Will the hardware Android buttons of current phones still function after updating to Ice Cream Sandwich? Provided your phone receives the update, the answer is yes. ICS is built to forego onscreen software buttons in favor of hardware buttons provided they are present. Speaking to Gizmodo,  a Google spokesperson described the setup:

“ICS does have onscreen buttons but not always. If there’s a device with hardware buttons the onscreen buttons won’t be there, and the hardware buttons will act and function as you’d expect them to…. back and home will function as you’d expect, the search button will query the search bar (as you’d expect), and the menu button will query the menu overflow in the action bar.”

So there you have it. We assume it will be up to the hardware manufacturer to make the ultimate adjustments. Now we have to ask, did people really think the Android Team would just drop support for a hardware element that exists on nearly all current Android handsets?

[via Gizmodo]

Kevin Krause
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  1. the rezound and razr are still busts.

    1. especially the rezound because we all know exactly what its gonna be/look like…

      1. YOU may not know.

    2. I’d still take the Rezound in a second. From what I’ve read it’s pretty neato.

      1. Rzor looks way sexier with that thinness in my opinion…there are already reports that the rezound has horrid battery life

        1. It’s Htc, so it’s to be expected lol. If you know your stuff you can get good battery life on most non-rooted Htc phones though, Thunderbolt included.

          Razr has that screen though, from what I read Rezound will have 720p, not qHD.

  2. I thought this was confirmed ages ago?

    1. you are correct. Andy Rubin said ICS was designed to give the OEM the option for buttons… Galaxy Nexus may showcase the software buttons, but Andy felt that a truly ‘open’ platform wouldn’t dictate buttons.

  3. All I want is a release date…….for the nexus……

  4. yes but i don’t want physical buttons no mo’, no mo’. no mo’, no mo’. no mo’, no mo’. waste of valuable real estate! it’s time to upgrade to an ICS phone or be left behind!

    1. I have mixed feelings about this. Now screen real-estate will be taken up by the buttons. Is that better than the device being a bit larger than the screen to accommodate buttons? Every pixel counts, and having the four common buttons separate from the screen saves pixels.

      1. The buttons go away when they are not needed, like when viewing movies or photos.

        1. They don’t go away they just dim out to the point its hard to notice them…if you want an idea go play with xoom or gtab and watch a full screen video while demoeing it and you willsee the buttons become little dimmed out dots and if you press anywhere on the screen the buttons will reapper in full effect

          1. When they announced the phone they said that the buttons went away for movie viewing and pictures and games to give you a larger screen to play on… My only question is then how do you go back or home if needed while in the middle of doing one of these tasks??

          2. Yes, the buttons will hide *completely* to display video. And they will still be accessible. Allow me to explain.

            The on-screen buttons are known as the system bar. In Honeycomb, a developer had two options for the system bar, either visible or low-profile. Visible is the norm. Low-profile is “lights out mode”, where the buttons become dim dots. The system bar still occupies the same amount of space, and you can also trigger the buttons with a single press, even though they are dimmed. ICS introduces a third mode, hidden. This allows the app to take over the pixels used by the system bar, but with any press of the screen, the system bar re-appears. That means this mode is essentially restricted to video. The trade off is that button presses will require two taps, one to bring up the action bar and then the actual tap of the button.

            You can see the buttons drop out in this video: ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=paDABBppckk#t=300 ) and when he touches the screen at 5:20, they pop back in.

            I’m not sure if hidden mode will come to tablets, but I doubt it. Honeycomb tablets are 16:10 to accommodate the system bar, and the system bar is also much more important to tablets because they encorporate the features of the status bar (clock, notifications, and quick settings).

            Source: ( http://developer.android.com/sdk/android-4.0.html )

  5. “There has been some confusion over a very simple question regarding Android 4.0: Will the hardware Android buttons of current phones still function after updating to Ice Cream Sandwich? ”

    Pretty sure there has been no confusion. No shit it will work!

    1. Ya, I wasn’t aware of any confusion either. I don’t work for Google, but what else would they do? Tell you to pretend that the buttons that are already on your phone no longer exist because they’ve been disabled for ICS, making zero sense whatsoever, taking up screen real estate and pissing off everyone in the process, or simply leave out the on-screen button layout for phones that weren’t released with ICS (i.e., everything else).
      Well, I’m glad to know that some confusion that I’ve never heard of has been cleared up. I’ll sleep easier now knowing that I don’t have to remove the buttons on my phone to upgrade it to ICS.

    2. I think the confusion was more, will the software buttons still be visible if hardware buttons exist?

      1. That should have been common sense as well! lol That would make no sense to take up more screen space for software buttons with physical buttons already there. Just put a simple check in the software for phys buttons and they don’t show up! I’m surprised there could be confusion on this.

  6. So how would you bring up the multitasking feature with the existing hardware buttons? The nexus has a special software button for that but no menu button like we have now. And that also brings up the issue of accessing the hidden menu feature with the nexus.

    1. Holding down the home button, the same way the recent-apps menu is brought up now.


    2. Uh, the same way you do now by holding down the home button.

    3. Hold down the home button? Kinda like how we do it now? DUH!!

    4. Perhaps, the menu button will be the multitasking button in ICS?

    5. If an app has hidden menus, ICS intelligently renders a menu button when necessary. It will appear at the far right and looks like three dots stacked vertically, which is the new symbol for “menu” in ICS. If there isn’t a hidden menu, the button goes away.

      1. hope u r rite

  7. Yeah this is common sense people. I dunno why anyone was worried.

  8. I hope that they allow users to re-assign the menu button to the task switcher. It appears than menus will be built into the app itself going forward and having a dedicated button to switch tasks would be much more beneficial I think.

    1. The task switcher will most likely be brought up by holding down the home button, the same way the recent-apps menu is brought up now.

      1. I realize that, but changing that to an instant button press would make the process quicker. I remember someone at Google saying the whole reason that task management got its own button press was because the implementation of holding the home button took too long. If apps are going to have menu buttons present in them anyways, the use of the dedicated menu key will diminish and it would be better off used to open the task manager.

    2. I’d rather re-map the search key. Legacy apps still call for the menu button, and it may be a long time before we can get rid of it. Even the Galaxy Nexus will have a menu button, but only when necessary.

  9. I did see various people appearing confused by this, but what is stated here seems blindingly obvious to me. Why would anybody think Google would just turn off the hard buttons if they were already there? That’d be pretty stupid.

  10. I hadn’t even given this thought. why would they not do this?

  11. So they officially answered the question that the hardware buttons can stoll be used, but what about those of us that want to use the software buttons but are not willing or contractually able to upgrade our phones yet.

  12. No confusion here ever!!

  13. Good to know.

  14. As a matter of fact, I believe the on screen buttons on HC and ICS are a waste of screen space. Probably I dont see things as the rest of you, but I believe the amount of space used for the buttons will be better for the apps. I even think the screen dimentions of the Galaxy Nexus are weird.

  15. Sorry for the dup post.

  16. honestly i didnt lose any sleep over this supposed “concern”, Google and Android deliver consistently, and efficiently.. in fact i never noticed the difference when i use Gingerbread on my G2 and Honeycomb on my G-Slate, and that says alot to how seamless it is to move from one version of the OS to a completely new version and not notice that youre using it differently, its just natural, and to me that has always been ANDROID. I expect ICS to be just as seamless a transition.

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