Google Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is designed to run on phones and tablets that don’t have physical buttons. Instead, the Home, Menu, and Back buttons are on-screen icons that automatically rotate when you change your grip on the screen.
For some reason Google decided to do away with the dedicated Search button though. Originally the search button was a key component of any Android phone or tablet. Over the last few years we’ve seen a number of devices ship without search buttons — and to be honest, I don’t actually use the one I have on my Nexus One smartphone all that often.
Google did replace search with another useful button: recent apps. Instead of tapping-and-holding the Home button in Android 4.0 you can now bring up a list of recent applications by tapping the dedicated button.
But if you can’t live without a dedicated button for bringing up the Android search function, you may not have to. Developer Paul O’Brien is putting the finishing touches on a modification that adds search back to the button bar in Android 4.0.
It looks like there’s plenty of space for all four buttons to peacefully coexist.