back to article Huawei's just changed the way you'll use Android

One of the perils of launching a clever new feature at the zoo called Mobile World Congress is that clever new things get lost in the noise. With its P10, one of the three main flagships launched at the show, Huawei quietly introduced a new feature that few people even noticed. It's abolished the Navigation Bar by …

  1. James 51 Silver badge
    Gimp

    I still find BB10 (and even playbook OS) a lot easier to use than android.

    1. Planty Bronze badge
      FAIL

      Hmm, you miss the point of the article, Android isn't one thing. Manufacturers deviate form the standard way of working.

  2. Tom7

    My Elephone has a similar setup, and it sounds like the reviewer would even prefer it. It has the fingerprint sensor on the back, then a touch button at the bottom of the screen. Tap to be back, double tap for home and hold for the task switcher. It does indeed work well.

    1. getHandle

      I was rather confused by your comment until I went back and re-read Elephant correctly as Elephone...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Training School

      I've often thought that Elephone, with their enormous array of semi finished products, new ones every week or so, must be some kind of Chinese training school for development and production engineers. If only they'd stop using Mediatek...

    3. ToonArmyBarmy

      Me too. Works really well on the Elephone. Bit surprised that Huawei "Announced" this "Innovation"

  3. P. Lee Silver badge

    >>More than 30 years after Microsoft introduced Windows, it still supports Alt-F4 to close a window, just as IBM said it must in 1987.

    >Dialog boxes have a 'Cancel' button, activated by pressing the Esc key, which discards changes, and an 'OK' button, activated by pressing Return, which accepts changes;

    Unless, of course, "No I don't want an Upgrade" is the Wrong AnswerTM.

  4. Jon Massey

    Gestures

    I miss the trackball on my old HTC Hero!

    1. Chz

      Re: Gestures

      The solid state trackball on the Desire was much more useful than the physical roller on the N1 and Hero. (IMO, of course)

      Although you did miss out on the trackball being the notification light, which was the one cool thing about the N1.

  5. Jedibeeftrix

    Sailfish (Jolla)

    "This user regrets that the opportunity to create a ground-up approach to design with all swipes, as expressed in the Nokia N9 and BlackBerry's BB10, never caught on. Neither required any onscreen buttons at all."

    It never went away, and you'll be able to use just such an OS on a Sony Xperia in the next six months, god willing.

    1. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

      Re: Sailfish (Jolla)

      After a few months of having my Jolla I gave it to my mom to play with - ran the tutorial for her and let her toy around with it.

      30 minutes later(aka I wandered of to do other stuff) - I like it, can I have one?

      We now both use Jolla phones.

    2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Sailfish (Jolla)

      "It never went away, and you'll be able to use just such an OS on a Sony Xperia in the next six months, god willing."

      It's a bit unclear which Sony phones - only the X, I think, is mentioned whereas I imagine the pent up demand is for the Z series which are not being updated to 6. Given the latest revelations about what the US TLAs have been up to, Sailfish might be more secure. But then will possession of a phone with a RF-approved OS deny you entry to the US?

      1. davidp231

        Re: Sailfish (Jolla)

        But with Sailfish's Android layer you would lose easy access to some useful apps (eg Barclays bank app - refuses to run on what it deems as rooted devices, unless you rename/remove 'su')

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Sailfish (Jolla)

          Useful != bank app

          Really don't want anyone having a hope of getting my bank details if they nick my phone (pickpocket of phone fairly likely with the sardine public transport I am often on as so much nudging / jostling it's sleight of hand thievery paradise).

          Even more ironic is that if you root your phone you can then secure it a lot more than a non rooted phone (non root phone does not even let you edit hosts to block known bad actor site)

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Nokia still have Swipe UI rights

    If only it could find its way to HMD's phones.

    However they've promised pure Android so it ain't going to happen.

  7. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    webOS

    How long before someone adds a little swipe bar (with built in fingerprint sensor this time)? It was one of the better features of webOS, whose task switching is still better than anything else.

  8. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    "More than 30 years after Microsoft introduced Windows, it still supports Alt-F4 to close a window, just as IBM said it must in 1987. "

    Great fun could be had during the IRC boom when you drop something like "To see a naked photo of <insert celebrity here> press ALT+F4

    Suffice to say you got cussed out after the victim rejoined the channel :) Great fun.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Many still fall for CTRL+W etc

      Still plenty of shortcuts to catch people out with.

  9. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Trollface

    Disappointed...

    "Huawei quietly introduced a new feature that few people even noticed. It's abolished the Navigation Bar by incorporating the three main functions into a sensor button."

    Awwww... if it had been "a new variant of Android, free from Google's poison and with its own curated app store", I'd have been on it in a heartbeat!

    1. Gio Ciampa

      Re: Disappointed...

      <pedant>

      "a new variant of AOSP" not "a new variant of Android"

      </pedant>

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This one amazing trick...

    ... will change the way you use Android forever?

    1. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: This one amazing trick...

      ... will change the way you use Android forever?

      I didn't believe what happened next

      1. ThomH Silver badge

        Re: This one amazing trick...

        In the early noughties, David Bowman was a promising astronaut on his was to Jupiter. You won't believe what he looks like now!

  11. Ellipsis

    Is this really new or exclusive to Huawei? It sounds similar to ZUK’s U‑Touch, which seems to have been around for a while.

    (I might be able to understand more if I could read Chinese…)

    1. Toltec

      The new Moto G5 appears to use the fingerprint sensor similarly.

  12. Tom 7 Silver badge

    I was hoping not to use it at all.

    Well, not on MY phone.

  13. Mage Silver badge

    Windows, it still supports Alt-F4

    So does Linux (at least Mate on Mint).

    My Sony Ericsson Z1 is still working perfectly, but if it breaks, I'll look at the Huawei.

  14. nilfs2
    Thumb Down

    Great!!!

    Great, another change just for the heck of it, that's innovation

  15. mintus55

    my LG has a hardware button on the rear for hanging up calls. It's extremely useful as using the touch screen to hang up is a PITA.

  16. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Devil

    I have a gesture for you....

    The designers must think all these gesture options are great fun and it gives the sales and marketing wonks something to brag about, but TBH it drives me bonkers. Despite turning off as many gesture options as I can find on my S7, unless I put it down like a white-gloved snooker referee placing the cue ball in a world championship something usually activates, and it isn't something I want.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "There's no way to customise this in current software builds: you get what you're given."

    I disagree. I vote with my wallet & I refuse to pay for (i.e. reward manufacturers) for trying to treat me as if I am not part of this equation.

    No headphone jack? No sale. No removeable battery? No sale. No SD slot? No sale. Crap UI? No sale.

    I realize this limits my choices of devices, but the fact that I reward the manufacturers that get it right means those design choices (i.e. not to treat the customer like shit) get a much needed boost, an encouragement to continue.

    They may WANT us to take what we're given but I refuse to do so.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: "There's no way to customise this in current software builds: you get what you're given."

      Buying a phone every three years isn't rewarding the vendor (I've just stuck a new battery in my Nexus 5, does all one might want from a phone). Buying one every nine months might be. In any case, the best Android phone (by whatever criteria) several two years ago isn't from the same vendor as today, nor is it likely to be the same in two year's time - this means that 'brand loyalty' is limited in its power.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: "There's no way to customise this in current software builds: you get what you're given."

      My last few phones have had microSD card slots, and to be honest they have caused me more trouble than they have been worth. Some apps will store their data on the microSD card by default, so this causes unexpected results if I decide to take out the microSD card in order to play its music contents through my car stereo, or to put in my compact camera (I have a few microSD > SD card converters on my dashboard).

      Please don't get me wrong, I'm not judging you for wanting a microSD card slot, but the point of my post now is to highlight the disconnect between my desire for a microSD card slot and the reality of actually trying to use it - especially between different devices. Oh, and on top of that I lose the damned tiny things.

      For sure, if I did a lot of commuting and was in the habit of watching locally-stored video on the train, then for sure a nice big microSD would be nice... but really, it's best treated as built in storage once it's fitted to the phone. And for watching video whilst seated, it isn't a chore to use a microUSB thumbstick. If you want a microSD card in order to swap data between devices, then you have to sacrifice having the card's data encrypted.

      So, for the above reasons, I'm curious as to why people demand a microSD card slot instead of just a phone with reasonably-priced ample storage to begin with. However, the above might give a clue as to why microSD card slots are falling out of favour with phone vendors, in addition to being able to charge mark-ups on storage, of course.

      Regards

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: "There's no way to customise this in current software builds: you get what you're given."

        Decent built in storage on phones adds silly money to phone price, whereas SD cards are cheap & most people have a few knocking around.

        Watching video or MP3 listening from SD card is good on commute (any cloudy services need wifi / good phone signal which can be a problem when commuting) .

        I use SD card as cheap & easy extra storage, though admittedly not in habit of changing the SD card around, just occasionally alter the playlists on it for a bit of variety, but have not noticed any issues of apps using SD to store data when told not to, most apps are well behaved in what storage they use, & I only run a small set of apps.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: "There's no way to customise this in current software builds: you get what you're given."

          So to put it another way: If the built in storage on phones was priced the same as an SD card, would there still be the same demand for an SD card slot?

          If phone makers didn't charge a mark-up on bigger built in storage, is there still any advantage to an SD card slot?

          So yeah, I'm still curious as to why people say they want an SD card slot, when what they really want is 'lots of storage for a reasonable price'.

          The idea that you can rescue your photographs from a broken phone by removing an SD card is fine, but only if you're not using encryption (or have the keys stashed off the phone). In any case, a regime that backs-up all new photos to your home server over WiFi also works if lose your phone in addition to breaking it.

          1. Down not across Silver badge

            Re: "There's no way to customise this in current software builds: you get what you're given."

            So to put it another way: If the built in storage on phones was priced the same as an SD card, would there still be the same demand for an SD card slot?

            Yes.

            If phone makers didn't charge a mark-up on bigger built in storage, is there still any advantage to an SD card slot?

            Yes.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @Dave 126, re: SD cards.

            Yes a large amount of built in storeage is nice, but the ability to put everything important on a card & remove the data is even better.

            Even if the data isn't encrypted, a security pat down isn't likely to find an SD card whereas it's almost impossible to miss your smartphone. If you never store anything important on the phone itself, putting it all on the card instead, then simply removing the card is as good as wiping the phone. You can tuck a micro sd card in a hollowed out "wedding ring" to keep it out of the goon's hands, happily letting them munch on your phone all they like. Just remember to remove the card *before* you reach the check point.

            You can plug the card into a computer, transfer movies/music/whatever to the card, then put the card in your phone, no wifi sync, dongle juggling, or cable plugging required. And if the phone *does* get destroyed, say run over by a lorry or dropped into the bog, the likelihood of the *card* surviving is better than that of the phone. Eject the card, dry it off, plug it into the computer, & you may still have your data. Not so likely with a phone reduced to a tire tread mark & bits of gravel where the SOC used to be.

            Then there's the issue of changing phones. If you buy a new shiny & all your stuff is on the old phone, how do you get everything from one to the other? Sure there's wifi (if they both talk the same freqs) or possibly an OTG crossover cable, or perhaps uploading everything to the cloud & then downloading it to the new phone. Or you could eject the card from the one, click it into the other, & call it a day. No hassels with line noise, signal degredation, maintaining a signal at all, not unplugging the cable accidently, or having any headaches about one not talking to the other, just the physical act of moving the card.

            Sure a lot of built in storeage is nice, that means more apps after all, but all my private stuff goes on the card so I can effectively "wipe" the phone merely by removing the card. No card = no personally identifiable information (beyond the SIM & that can be a PAYG version) = no sweat off my brow if it gets lost, stolen, or destroyed or confiscated.

  18. wheelybird

    webOS webOS webOS

    webOS.

    webOS had a hardware sensor for gestures and made using the phone so intuitive it was almost insulting. I haven't found another mobile OS that comes anywhere near it yet. SailfishOS is the closest, but not quite there. BBOS10 is a vague nod towards gestures, but there are too many discontinuities. Android's a joke - I find a lot of the time hitting 'back' doesn't do at all what you'd think it would.

  19. Queasy Rider

    The button I miss and want

    is the forward one. I use it all the time on my Win computers, and sorely miss it on my phones. It is such a pain to back up, realize you shouldn't have, and be forced to re-enter all that data again to get back to where you just were, especially when you know that it could have been done with a single button push, if only they offered that option. Sigh.

    1. the spectacularly refined chap

      Re: The button I miss and want

      is the forward one. I use it all the time on my Win computers, and sorely miss it on my phones. It is such a pain to back up, realize you shouldn't have, and be forced to re-enter all that data again to get back to where you just were...

      Android/Chrome: bring up the browser menu, i.e. scroll up if needed to make the address bar visible, press the three vertical dots. The forward button the leftmost icon on that mini toolbar above the textual menu items.

      No, you weren't being thick, it isn't done in a particularly discoverable way.

  20. cortland

    Who?

    Why?

    This is NOT the android they are looking for.

  21. aReefer

    Meizu

    Meizu has been doing something similar with it's M-Touch button for years.

    Click it to get home, touch it to go back, and it also incorporates the fingerprint sensor of late.

    Swipe up from the bottom of the screen for the open apps.

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