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Android Operating Systems Software Hardware Technology

Moto, Huawei Are Replacing the Android Keys With a Touchpad (theverge.com) 54

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report written by Vlad Savov via The Verge: Huawei and Moto have both moved to a new type of home button, which isn't really a button but rather just a touch-sensitive surface. So far, so familiar, but the novelty is that they're now combining gestures and taps to turn the trio of Android shortcuts -- Back, Home, and Recent Apps -- into a one-button user interface. Huawei's approach is one tap to go back, long press to go home, and a swipe to bring up the multitasking menu. Of course, this wouldn't be Android without fragmentation, so Moto's method is slightly different (swipe left to go back, right for multitasking, and a tap to go home), but having tried both of them, I can say that they're improvements on the status quo and I'm glad the change is happening. For Android purists, this may all seem like an unnecessary distraction. Give me my familiar Android trio, it might be said, and leave me in peace. Which is fine and dandy, since both of the new phones, Huawei's P10 and Moto's G5, offer the option to bring the familiar software interface back.
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Moto, Huawei Are Replacing the Android Keys With a Touchpad

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  • Moto's implementation sounds better to me. That said I'm not an Android user, I don't mind the way the iPhone does it but once they introduced the iPhone 7 I was hoping for some sort of back gesture support like this in the home button rather than the annoying tiny back "button" you get appearing in the top corner of the status bar. This seems like a much better solution assuming the gesture detection is reliable...seems like Google should have been on the ball with standardizing something like this.
    • HP/Palm webOS and Jolla's Sailfish OS were asked for comments about Android's new gesture interface.
      Their answer : yawn.

      Moto's implementation sounds better to me.

      ...and used to be the standard mode of operation since Palm's Pre (webOS powered).

      Jolla Phone (Sailfish OS) has a similar general approach to gesture, except that in order to save on screen estate, they abandon the idea of a dedicated gesture area, and instead use the screen (e.g.: you swipe the *whole app's* main area or title bar to do a "back", instead of swiping under it) and screen ed

      • Hence the reason it's good. Should they not have implemented it just because DOA platforms like webOS and Sailfish had it? Nobody is suggesting this is some never-before-seen innovative.
    • This seems backwards to me and a gimmick. The trend will be bezel-less displays and you need on screen home buttons for that. The only innovation I want to see for physical buttons is for them to move the power and volume to the back of the phone ala LG.
    • Moto's implementation sounds better to me. .

      Moto's implementation is western, but the Huawei approach doesn't carry any real eastern or western bias. Swiping left to go back (or right to go forward) only really makes sense in a culture where people read from left to right - to someone who naturally reads right-to-left, a left-swipe would suggest a 'go forward' action

      • Not really. When you look at internationalized iOS for example the back button still ends up in the top left with an arrow going left. Same thing with swipe gestures on laptop touchpads, swipe gestures in browsers and browser back/forward buttons.
  • This seems par for the course. With Google trying to make the device manufacturers stick to a UI that's closer to "stock Android," they have to differentiate themselves somehow. For example, on the Samsung phone I have now, the "home" and "multitask" buttons are on the opposite sides of the screen than they were for my Moto X. For some people, that would be a deal-breaker.

  • First you take away my buttons and give me stupid touch screens (ensuring my phone is useless as an MP3 player on my bike w/o a bluetooth dongle to add back the missing buttons). Now you're even taking those away?

    This sorta junk _kinda_ works on expensive phones. But eventually it trickles down to the cheap sub $200 phones I buy and well, doesn't work. Just give me a damn 2 cent button already.
    • Just give me a damn 2 cent button already.

      I say, give me a damn rotary dial already. Pressing little virtual buttons doesn't even feel like making a phone call to me. I've always preferred spinning dials and knobs to pushing buttons. It's just the kind of hairpin I am.

      • I'm sure people with visual handicaps are going to really HATE this. The touch screen interface sucks already, and gestures make it worse. Good think I kept my old flip phone.
        • I'm sure people with visual handicaps are going to really HATE this.

          Now, I don't know how TFS' companies are going to specifically implement it.

          But based on my experience with other gesture based smartphone (Palm/HP webOS, Jolla Sailfish), this actually *improves* visibility.

          With classical button interfaces, you need to hunt down a button to do an action. That's not that much complicated, but gives you a baseline.
          And it's possible to do some without looking.

          After the move to virtual buttons (as tons of modern android device have been doing), it becomes much *more* complicat

          • Instead of hypothesizing, why not actually try it? Android's current "assistive" mode is f*cked. The gesture one will be worse.

            It's easy/hard enough when you can see what mode you're in (and what application) to figure out the range of appropriate gestures at the moment. But when you can't? All it takes is one wrong move to open up the wrong application, switch to the wrong screen, etc. Once you're disorientated, with no way of visually verifying what's wrong, your only real action is to power down and res

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        The problem is maximum screen in the smallest space and every bezel must go, including top an bottom. There is always the back of the phone for a flush mount analogue stick and an index print reader and buttons around the sides of the phone or top of the phone (relative to placement in pocket, in fact default they should be there so you can use your phone without taking it from your pocket, smarter than on the sides or even worse bottom front, could put four up there quite readily).

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Using the rear mounted fingerprint sensor as a trackpad for scrolling and a few gestures is nice.

    • I agree with you all the way. Without buttons you are forced to look down for each and every function. This potentially endangers your life.
      • You don't necessarily need to look down if there is some meaningful or useful haptic/audio feedback. It's how I know the system has registered presses on the two touch-sensitive buttons that are on my phone now. Even the fingerprint sensor can tell me to retry without having to look down. (Galaxy S6)

        Also, honestly curious, not trying to troll: In what sorts of dangerous situations are you thinking of, where using your phone or otherwise being distracted isn't already against the law, workplace rules, or gen

        • Driving. Walking across the street. Riding a bicycle. Roller skating. These are but a few. If you think that everybody cares if your not looking around you, and you get run over or hit by their car... I have no idea where you've been!!
          • by Anonymous Coward

            Driving. Walking across the street. Riding a bicycle. Roller skating. These are but a few. If you think that everybody cares if your not looking around you, and you get run over or hit by their car... I have no idea where you've been!!

            Driving: Illegal to use phone whilst... in most countries.
            walking across the street: err, let's put it this way, if you're not on a pedestrian crossing you're placing yourself, and other road users in danger if you're paying more attention to your phone than your surroundings. At least in the US you have the charge of Jaywalking which would cover this.
            Riding a bicycle: It's not illegal here to use a mobile whilst cycling, but on a public road here I'd hope they'd charge anyone doing so for "riding without

          • by Anonymous Coward

            You should read a comparison of the cell phone driver and the drunk driver [distraction.gov]

            Drivers using a cell phone exhibited a delay in their response to events in the driving scenario and were more likely to be involved in a traffic accident.
            Drivers in the alcohol condition exhibited a more aggressive driving style, following closer to the vehicle immediately in front of them, necessitating braking with greater force.

            and

            Also noteworthy was the fact that the driving impairments associated with handheld and hands-free cell phone conversations were not significantly different.

            Talking while driving is irresponsible, even if you are using hands-free. Removing physical buttons are not going to change that.
            Turn off you phone before you start driving. If you are expecting an important call, be prepared to find a place to stop the vehicle when that call comes.
            You may think that it isn't as bad as driving drunk, but it is.
            (Yes, I am aware of the mythbusters episode regarding it, and yes the study above also c

            • There is no scenario in which people will stop using their phones in their cars. Even setting aside phone calls and texts, people use their phones for media these days. I don't listen to the radio very often. I stream my google music via bluetooth. Saying that it is illegal in many locales isn't not a solution. If people can use their stereos then they should be able to use their phones and the problem is simply one of the UI.
    • They still don't let most apps install to the SD card.
    • From what I can figure out from TFS, they're giving us the buttons back, albeit in a slightly different form. That's definitely a positive thing.

      The buttons were taken away because of the obsession of form over function by smartphone designers - and apparently the market agrees with them. If this is a compromise they can live with, then I'll take it.

  • "which isn't really a button but rather just a touch-sensitive surface. So far, so familiar," [...] "For Android purists, this may all seem like an unnecessary distraction. Give me my familiar Android trio, it might be said, and leave me in peace."

    "familiar Android trio"? Give me back my separate hardware buttons, including the search button [wikipedia.org] and get off my lawn you young whippersnapper!
    • Give me back my separate hardware buttons, including the search button [wikipedia.org] and get off my lawn you young whippersnapper!

      You can have your hardware buttons once they give me back my RJ11 cable. I never had to worry about not getting enough bars when I had that good old wire to the wall.

      People are soft nowadays. They're too good for things like wires and knurled knobs. I like a volume control that looks like a stove knob.

    • by AvitarX ( 172628 )

      I miss the search and menu buttons so much, and I really don't care at all about the switch task button.

    • I also want notification LEDs to come back (and not be hidden and disabled).
      I loved the little ball on the Nexus One, too.

      • I also want notification LEDs to come back (and not be hidden and disabled). I loved the little ball on the Nexus One, too.

        I won't buy a phone without a notification LED, but fortunately there are still plenty available, as far as I know. Samsung, LG and ZTE include them on flagships at least, off the top of my head.

        • by ncc74656 ( 45571 ) *

          I won't buy a phone without a notification LED

          They're nice to have when your primary display is an LCD, but kinda pointless with AMOLED displays. I have a Moto Z Play (and used to have a first-gen Moto X until I lost it), and the way they handle notifications while asleep is easier to read, while probably not drawing that much more power than a flashing RGB LED.

  • >"For Android purists, this may all seem like an unnecessary distraction. "

    Yes it is. The reference Nexus devices have been button-free for a long time now. There is no need for any home or back or multitasking buttons. Just make that bottom area of the phone MORE SCREEN and let the OS deal with it!

    • The problem is, it's *NOT* "more screen", because they're the same size and resolution as similar phones that *have* dedicated buttons. It's a pure anti-feature that companies have somehow managed to spin into a selling point. :-(

      Case in point: Nexus 6P vs Galaxy Note 4. Literally identical displays, but the 6P technically doesn't even get detected as 'widescreen' (for layout alternate resource purposes) because Android subtracts the height of the softkey area from the vertical resolution, and the resulting

  • by dohzer ( 867770 )

    Oh good. Less screen area!

  • Now that all phones are basically identical (flat, and run Android or iOS), this completely trivial and meaningless shit is all that's left to differentiate them. If whether a phone has 1 or 3 buttons is important to you, you should get out of the room in your mom's basement more often.
  • Of course, this wouldn't be Android without fragmentation, so Moto's method is slightly different (swipe left to go back, right for multitasking, and a tap to go home), but having tried both of them, I can say that they're improvements on the status quo and I'm glad the change is happening. For Android purists, this may all seem like an unnecessary distraction.

    This isn't fragmentation in the sense that it doesn't introduce something negative. Diversity and innovation make Android great. I've never owned
  • It's an interesting move, but it doesn't sound like something that would have a major effect.

    Personally, I like to keep functions separated and configurable... just because accidental gestures and commands are a plague to me. :P
    My current phone, OnePlus 3, has the 2 touch buttons, they can be flipped, and regular functions like double tap or long press can be configured to do a bunch of different things the way you want... and they can also be disabled in favor of onscreen buttons too.

    I already ended up dis

  • Forward button is totally missing, and it's a pain. Often leads to sucky experience in browsing for example... need to hunt through a menu to go forward. Come on, it's a computer. Why does it need to suck just because you hold it in your hand?

      * Swipe left: back
      * Swipe right: forward
      * Tap for back
      * Hold for list

  • I have a Zuk Z2, it's been doing this for over a year now. Zuk is a small phone company that got eaten by Lenovo. Poor quality software but the Z2 is a great hardware platform and the custom ROMs are in great shape.

  • Real buttons are usually faster and easier than anything virtual--especially, when you are out and about.
  • When I buy a new phone what I REALLY want is a bunch of proprietary, unfamiliar, inconsistent features controlling the most fundamental actions of the phone. That's number #1 on the list of things I look for. Other important features would be a proprietary launcher, dialler and other core applications, infrequent / nonexistent firmware updates (caused by all that customized functionality) and maybe between 5 and 10 crapware apps baked directly into the firmware.

    Yup, a phone with all those things is a guar

  • well because Huawei is cheap AF and has a lot of good qualities for it's price. and also I live in a country that has no copyright fringment law and I can also download w/e app I want from <a href="http://brouz.ir">download APKs,Movies,Cracked Games,Softwares etc.</a> for free. so they can do w/e they want

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