Samsung ditches obsolete Android menu key

Samsung axes obsolete Android menu button at last

At any massive event, a relatively small story missed by others can often turn out to be the ‘news of the show’.

In 2009, I remember writing for What Mobile about how good it was that the mobile phone industry was going to work together to standardise on a charging port (micro USB) for phones and (most) tablets. I knew straight away that this would have a massive impact on both the industry and consumers alike.

I also seem to recall that Apple signed up too, but somehow never followed through.

At CES 2014, Computerworld journalist JR Raphael wrote a story about Samsung finally ditching the Android menu button on the extremely impressive Galaxy NotePRO and Galaxy TabPRO tablets, and replacing it with the Recent Apps key.

A move that only trails Google deprecating the use of the menu button by just over three years!

This is another one of those small stories that is actually a very big deal.

Few people might fully appreciate it, but it will make future Samsung products considerably easier to use in the future – although it would be even better if it would stop using the rectangular button as the home key, a carry over from when Samsung quite unashamedly chose to copy everything Apple did.

I’ve actually become quite happy to use on-screen keys, so perhaps one day the weird mix of capacitive and physical keys will go completely. Android 4.4 now offers developers the ability to make any app full screen, and getting rid of buttons on one side will mean you can more easily use a device in portrait or landscape modes (both ways up).

But one step at a time. For Samsung, this must already be quite a big step after it appeared so resistant to change.


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