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ICS removed the need for the Menu key with always visible action bars, but also has support for phones which come with hard keys. Traditionally the menu button brought up a context menu.

I've got a device with hard keys, if I upgrade to ICS will the Action bar always be visible, standard ICS style, or will it be hidden under the Menu key? What will the menu key do in ICS?

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The menu button will display the action overflow menu, and the action overflow "soft" button should not appear on the Action Bar. The Action Bar itself, however, will still be visible as it normally would (provided the app implements it, of course). The Android Design guidelines for the Action Bar state (emphasis mine):

Action overflow

The action overflow in the action bar provides access to your app's less frequently used actions. The overflow icon only appears on phones that have no menu hardware keys. Phones with menu keys display the action overflow when the user presses the key.

For the sake of clarity, the "action overflow button" is the little three dots icon shown at the far right here:

enter image description here

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Arg, so there's no indication that the action overflow is there on hard key phones? –  Ben Brocka Apr 10 '12 at 15:59
    
@BenBrocka: AFAIK, no, there isn't. You could argue that it's just like the <=2.3 implementation which gives no indication that there are menu options, but I thought it was a kind of stupid implementation then and I think it's a kind of stupid implementation now (as a dev it's freakin' annoying to make UIs that take advantage of the menu button because half the clients don't know it exists). –  eldarerathis Apr 10 '12 at 16:03
    
@BenBrocka: I will also say, anecdotally, that this is exactly what I saw when running an ICS ROM on my EVO (which has hard buttons, naturally). The overflow icon was gone and the overflow actions instead popped in from the bottom of the screen when I hit the Menu button. –  eldarerathis Apr 10 '12 at 16:04
    
Yeah, it's really dumb and keeps all half the usability problems of the menu button! I was hoping they didn't do this –  Ben Brocka Apr 10 '12 at 16:07
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