Why physical buttons are disabled even if the phone has them?



  • Hi to all! I've just installed ubuntu touch on my oneplus one and i must say it runs pretty well, i'm impressed!

    I had some minor issues where i was unable to dismiss the layer that explains how to swipe left and right (to show the running apps and the dock), after trying numerous times, it worked (it should be easier to dismiss)

    I know that you don't need buttons to use ubuntu touch, but since almos all the phones have buttons, why not use them? or allow to customize them? (i'm sure there's some way to enable them, since it's linux, anyone know how to do it)

    Thanks to all!!



  • The physical buttons would be needed to be coded - with each device likely needing slightly different code - and in some cases with closed source drivers needing to be reverse engineered. As such - it hasn't been done because developers' time has been focused on other higher priorities.

    There is one exception for UT supported phones already though - the Meizu Pro 5's forward facing physical button DOES work - it can wake the screen, open the left launcher, and work as a fingerprint scanner (if the script to fix the fingerprint unlock for UT 16.04 is run).

    Best regards,
    Steve Berson



  • I wondered about that when I first got my OPO and flashed it.

    Now, 3 months later I have flashed my nexus 5 back to android and I keep forgetting about the navigation buttons. I feel the well designed UI of UT leaves nothing to be desired and you will soon forget the need. It also makes sense why no one spends their time enabling the extra buttons. why bother.



  • The home button also works on MX4 although I honestly would like to disable it if I can because it can be a conflict with bottom gestures.

    In general though, I think home buttons are fine to be enabled but back buttons and recent/menu are kinda doesn't make sense since we don't really have direct equivalent for those and it they will definitely be a distraction in the UT experience 🙂



  • There are some design reason to not use the physical buttons:

    • we don't use them
    • they interfere with the bottom edge
    • they have no use if device is upside down or in landscape
    • desktop doesn't have them


  • @CiberSheep said in Why physical buttons are disabled even if the phone has them?:

    they have no use if device is upside down or in landscape

    This is not quite true. The keys still function appropriately on Android devices in these situations.

    @CiberSheep said in Why physical buttons are disabled even if the phone has them?:

    desktop doesn't have them

    This is also not quite true. PC keyboards have Windows/Menu keys (which tend to be mapped as Super), which under Unity7 can be used to open the dash or perform other actions. Shift+F10 will open a context menu, and Alt+F10 will open the top panel menus. Alt+Tab or Super+W for switching between apps. Esc, Alt+Left, and other keybindings are often used for going back, as well.

    While there is not an exact 1:1 correlation with all three buttons on Android devices, and physical keybindings in all cases, to say easy-access to specific functions doesn't exist is wrong. 🙂


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