Technology

Google Pixel 2 Navigation Bar Has A Secret Menu Button

The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL have received glowing reviews all over. Pixel 2 is arguably the best Android phone you can get your hands on. Google’s latest smartphones have a few secret features that you might not have discovered yet. One of them is hidden right in the Pixel 2 navigation bar. Google executives didn’t share this feature onstage during the unveiling event earlier this month.

Google Pixel 2 Navigation Bar
Image Source: Android Police / YouTube video (screenshot)

How to use the menu button on the Pixel 2 navigation bar

The early versions of Android had a much-loved menu button on the navigation bar. Google replaced it with a recent apps button in later versions of Android. The menu button hasn’t been part of the stock Android for years, but many vendors have kept it on their phones in some form or the other. Now Google itself seems to have secretly added a menu button on the Pixel 2 navigation bar.

The feature was discovered through “purely accidental means” by folks at Android Police. They spotted it on multiple units of Pixel 2. 9to5Google later confirmed that the feature was “live” on their units as well. The secret menu button on the Pixel 2 navigation bar doesn’t work in all apps, probably because it has been deprecated significantly in the last few years.

If you are planning to buy the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL, you can take advantage of the new menu button by tapping on the blank area on the right of the recent apps button. If it is supported by the app, you’ll sense a vibration and a menu will pop up. It works well in Google Chrome, giving you quick access to commonly used features. It does nothing in Google Photos and Inbox. The button vibrates in Google Maps, but it doesn’t serve you any menu or other options.

So, why is it sitting there? Android Police speculates that the feature might have been “left there in development.” It certainly is not a feature of Android Oreo because it doesn’t show up on the original Pixel phones. The Pixel 2 navigation bar menu button is not the only new hidden feature.

Google Pixel 2 also has a dedicated image processing chip

Google has revealed that the new phones also feature a custom chip dedicated to handling camera image processing. It’s called the Pixel Visual Core. The company hasn’t activated the chip yet. It will likely be activated at the time of the Android 8.1 developer preview release. Once activated, the chip will allow the Pixel 2 phones to process photos much faster than ever before.

The search engine giant said it would allow developers to use the Pixel Visual Core in third-party apps for HDR+ image processing. It means third-party apps will be able to capture as good photos as the default camera. The Pixel Visual Core is an eight-core Image Processing Unit (IPU). Google claims that it can handle more than a trillion operations per second. It can process HDR+ images “5x faster” than before.

Interestingly, the Pixel Visual Core has its own DDR4 RAM and CPU. Initially it will run the HDR+, but Google is also preparing other applications to take advantage of the dedicated image processing chip.

Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL go on sale tomorrow

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL will go on sale on Thursday, Oct.19. Many pre-order customers reported that they had received an email confirmation that their units have already been shipped. They could receive their Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL units as early as today. Verizon, the only US carrier to offer the new Pixel phones, will have the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL on store shelves on Thursday.

We expect Google to be more efficient in managing the supply chain this time. Last year, the original Pixel was almost impossible to find in stock for months despite not-so-great demand. You can get the unlocked Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL directly from Google’s online store. Right now, the regular Pixel 2 is available for Thursday delivery if you pre-order the device online. But the 6-inch Pixel 2 XL delivery has been pushed back by a week or two.

The search engine giant has also set up pop-up stores in New York and Los Angeles to let people check out the device before making a purchase decision. You can buy the device at the pop-up store itself rather than going online or to a Verizon store. The New York store is located in the Flatiron District, and the Los Angeles store is in West Hollywood. Both the temporary stores will be open from October 19 through December 31.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are available in 64GB and 128GB storage options. The Pixel 2 comes in black, white, and kinda blue color options, while the larger model is available in black & white or black colors. The Pixel 2 costs $650 for the 64GB model and $750 for the 128GB version. The Pixel 2 XL will set you back by $850 for the 64GB variant and $950 for the 128GB version.

With the new Pixel phones, Google has ditched the 3.5mm headphone jack. The devices have front-facing stereo speakers to enhance your audio experience. Google has tightly integrated its services, including the Assistant, into the Pixel 2 smartphones. You can activate the Assistant in split seconds by squeezing the phone’s frame. The search engine giant also offers unlimited cloud storage for photos and videos to Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL users.

The biggest highlight of the Pixel 2 is its camera. Though the device has only a single lens on the back, it can take Portrait Mode photos with blurred backgrounds using software algorithm. It shattered all the previous records on DxOMark’s camera tests. The Pixel 2 scored 98 out of 100 points on DxOMark, beating the iPhone 8 Plus and Galaxy Note 8 by a fair distance. Both the Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have received 94 points.