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Android N’s navigation buttons could get a face-lift

Android N Developer
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
The past few Android N Developer Previews haven’t exactly introduced anything too different, feature-wise or design-wise, but that may be because Google is saving the best for last: The new flavor of Android may come with new home and navigation buttons.

Android N is currently on its fourth developer preview out of five. After Developer Preview 5, the final version will be sent to manufacturers and carriers who will hopefully waste no time in getting the update out to devices when Google officially launches it with Nexus devices in the fall. Since Google unveiled the first developer preview in March, we haven’t seen any drastic updates or changes in the new version. Even at its developer conference in May, most of the features the search giant mentioned had already been discussed and explored two months prior.

But some design-changes may be saved for the final release, according to Phone Arena. The tech website says the leaked images and information comes from a reliable source, but we cannot verify this information. We have reached out to Google and will update if it responds. Take a look at the possible new home buttons:

android N
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Back and Recents buttons have the same shape, except they are filled in white. The home button in the middle also is just filled in, but it also has Google’s four colors expanding outwards — red on top, green on the right, yellow on the bottom, and blue on the left. The addition of the Google colors on the home button could mean that Google wants to highlight Now on Tap and Google Now — features that can be triggered and opened by pressing and holding the home button, respectively. Phone Arena’s source says the colors animate when long-pressed.

Google could also possibly be integrating its new Assistant into Android, and the home button can be a way to trigger it. The Assistant right now is slated to be introduced via Google’s upcoming Allo messaging app, as well as through Google Home in the fall. The Assistant logo primarily features the four Google colors as dots, so it’s a possible connection to the home button change.

Or it could just be a simple button makeover. Phone Arena says the keys will have the “very same functionality” as they do on Android Marshmallow.

Again, this information has not be verified, so take it with a grain of salt. The updated navigational buttons may make their debut on Google’s upcoming Nexus devices, but it’s unclear if they will make their way to all devices that get Android N. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has said the new Nexus devices will feature proprietary features special to them, so this could be a part of that.

The new version’s name could also be unveiled toward the end of June or early July. The company opened up the naming process to anyone for the first time this year via a website — but of course Google still holds the final say. Android versions are usually named after a dessert, and N’s top contender is Android Nutella. Android and Chrome OS senior vice president Hiroshi Lockheimer continues to tease fans with tweets that blatantly identify Nutella as the dessert.

We think his teases are too obvious, but we’ll have to wait and see what Google cooks up.

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Julian Chokkattu
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Julian is the mobile and wearables editor at Digital Trends, covering smartphones, fitness trackers, smartwatches, and more…
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