Just like the Android Home Screen, the Android phone external buttons and the notification panel, the menu options are equally important and they serve their own purpose in many ways. For some of the interfaces, there is no menu at all on the home screens, for example, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus there is no menu key at all and what you see are the three touch-sensitive keys for Home, Back and Search. When there is a menu key provided on the phone, it serves a lot of uses – On the home screen, on the app pages and within the applications also.
The menus in the Android phones would help in most of the functions and options within the interface of the phone or application. The menu usually opens when the bottom menu key is pressed on any particular screen or application, or when the item is pressed for longer than just a touch.
The menus are of two types:
- Options Menu
- Context Menu
The options menu contains the tools of the particular application or the ongoing activities on the current screen. The menus can be activated or opened by pressing the Menu button that is usually one of the keys below the screen. These menus appear only if there are some additional tools or functions available for the particular application or screen. The menus have a maximum of 6 menu items in two rows, and if there are more options in the list, they would appear under the “More” item that is the bottom right menu item in the list.
The context menu is something that applies to some specific area or item that you are using on the screen. To make it clear, if you are using the phone application and there are a list of contacts, long pressing a contact name would open a popup box of options and this is the content menu, which wouldn’t have opened if you had pressed the Menu key in the bottom. The Menu key would open the menu for the entire phone app, and the long pressing of the particular section in the same app would open the options for the same.
For example, when you long press on a contact in the phone app, it opens the list of options which generally include Call, View Contact, Edit number before call, Send text message, Remove from call log.
When you are in an application that opens up advertisements before the app even opens, you are left with no option on the screen to exit that ad and move ahead in the app, except the Menu button which gives the option to skip the ad.
It isn’t a necessity to categorize the menus but to understand the Menus better, the larger and generalized menus are the options menus while the ones that appear within the app are the context menus.