If you buy any of today’s Android devices you will see at least three physical buttons, however it seems as if these buttons will not be a necessity when Google roll out Android 3.0 Honeycomb.
At the moment most Android smartphones and tablets feature a home button, a menu button, a back button and a search button (see below), however it looks like Android 3.0 Honeycomb will not require physical keys, instead it will feature dedicated softkeys.
Below we can see a sneak peak at the Motorola Stingray‘s UI, it does not show a lot, but does show a back, home and menu button, supposedly these will move when you have the tablet at a different orientation.
Whilst removing physical buttons from Android devices and replacing them with softkeys sounds like a small change it will drastically affect how people will use their tablets and smartphones, personally I feel that there is nothing wrong with the 3 or 4 physical buttons currently used as they can seriously improve productivity, but that said physical buttons tend to be more prone to going wrong than softkeys, also they somewhat limit a device’s design.
It could well be that Google decide to require physical buttons with the final Honeycomb build, however for now we can assume that they are really planning to mix things up, I guess time will tell to see if this is really a good idea or not.
Do you think Android Honeycomb devices should feature physical buttons?