ATTENTION: All Android Software Developers

Hey! Google has urged Android developers to do away with the menu button, urging them to use an ‘action bar’.

Just days after Canonical announced its intentions to banish menus from its Ubuntu Linux distribution, Google has come out and urged developers to move away from menu buttons and towards use of an ‘action bar’. The so-called ‘action bar’ is really just six icons that Google hopes that Android users will become accustomed to using.

As part of Google’s Android 3.0 Honeycomb release last year it made a big push towards use of the action bar, but until recently legacy applications running on Android 2.3 or older would not be served by applications relying solely on action bars. Now Google has included an ‘action overflow button’ for legacy applications, allowing developers to finally move away from menus altogether.

Scott Main, lead technology writer for Google’s Android Developer web site said, “In order to provide the most intuitive and consistent user experience in your apps, you should migrate your designs away from using the Menu button and toward using the action bar. This isn’t a new concept – the action bar pattern has been around on Android even before Honeycomb – but as Ice Cream Sandwich rolls out to more devices, it’s important that you begin to migrate your designs to the action bar in order to promote a consistent Android user experience.”

Google’s six icon action bar includes buttons for refreshing, sharing, deleting and ‘starring’, though developers can use their own icons if they wish. In a bid to have some sort of harmony between the user interfaces of Android applications, Google suggested that developers refer to its Iconography Design Guide, should they want to stray off-standards with their icons.

As Google iterates Android it needs to make sure that applications using mash-ups of user interfaces do not confuse users. While style guides are good, developers and user interface designers will still want to stamp their own marks on applications to stand out from the crowd.

Source: The Inquirer