Android Will Break Free from the Shackless of Obsolete Physical Buttons

| December 16, 2010 | 6 Replies

Finally, something that I’ve been hoping for since the day I bought my first Android phone – removal of the physical buttons. Andy Rubin hinted at the D: Dive into Mobile conference that tablets won’t have physical buttons, and most likely phones running Honeycomb won’t need them either.

So why does this make me happy? Because ever since the first iPhone was launched, it was clear that everyone will switch to a touchscreen eventually, because a touchscreen can allow you to do much more and much quicker than you’d do them with physical trackballs and trackpads and all that. The benefits of having a screen almost as big as the phone itself, with an “on-demand” qwerty keyboard, were much bigger than the drawbacks – like typing a little slower. Although, besides Blackberries not many phones had a qwerty keyboard anyway, so typing on touchscreens today is actually faster than typing on those 12 keys keyboards.

Physical button only limit what you can do, and in a world of touchscreens they feel obsolete – like something from the past. They are just not elegant anymore, and the physical feeling of the button is marginal at best. In fact, that exact same feeling is what bothered me from the beginning. Once you get used to using a touchscreen, and then you have to use the menu or home button, there’s like a disconnect you will feel – like something is not right, like it’s unnatural. This is one of the biggest reasons I don’t want buttons on phones anymore. They just don’t belong on touchscreen phones.

Touchscreen phones are meant to be like small tablets that you keep in your pocket. The virtual buttons like for Back, Home and Menu could also appear on-demand, and in whatever position you switch your phone to, just like they will work on tablets. Plus, an extra benefit will be that screens will become slightly larger because of the removal of the physical buttons, but the phones will remain the same size overall. Since the virtual buttons will now work on demand, that leaves extra space for browsing, videos and playing games. I could see a 4.5″ screen fit into the size of a current 4.3″ phone.

What do you think, does it excite you or bother you that physical buttons will be removed?

Category: Android News

About Chris Yackulic ()

I am a true android enthusiast who loves anything and everything to do with the android ecosystem. I started AndroidHeadlines as a hobby and grew it into one of the finest android sites on the internet with the help of many great writers and staff. I love being able to give back to the android community by informing them of all the latest news on this great mobile platform. I hope you enjoy this site as much as I do!
  • Zach L

    As I replied on twitter.

    have you used a HTC Desire then an N1?

    Physical buttons on the Desire work seamlessly.

    Been using it for 8 months long enough to know.

  • Anthony hardy

    I use the droid thanks so are we having the 4.3 inch screen the buttons don't seem like such an issue. I wouldn't mind the removal of physical buttons but I would like him to always be present like a galaxy s phone

  • skitchbeatz

    I love physical buttons… or in my case- capacitive ones. They're what separate this platform from becoming the iphone

  • Juzzi

    Physical buttons are the best thing with Android phones. Hopefully they will never dissapear. I'd hate to know that manufacturers are getting rid of them to copy apple. Nothing I hate more than browsing with iphones as the back button is in idiotic place

  • David

    I don't want physical buttons to disappear because of bugs. The back, home and menu buttons are important and they could very well not show up. And what do you do when you want to turn the volume down? I don't want to have to turn on my screen every time. If someday there is a way to really be sure a big won't get in the way of the home, back and menu buttons, then maybe I'd agree. But I'd still want a volume rocker.

  • Markus

    I Strongly disagree. I don't want to reliquish my hardware buttons at any price. Just today I talked with a friend how happy I am about all my buttons, not having an single-buttoned-iphone. Sometimes I even wish for more buttons like the call button for example. However the 4 small buttons on my Milestone 2 just seem right to me.

    Also you would not gain that much of extra screen by removing them. 4 mm maximum …

    however, I am not sure this would look good …