A mobile OS like Android that runs on smartphones and tablets doesn’t exactly have the luxury of  a big display like its PC counterparts. As such, a menu bar that permanently sits either on top of bottom of the display can really rob users of their precious screen real estate. This is something that has apparently been lingering on Google’s mind, as well.

Patent Bolt has gotten a hold of a number of patent applications that Google has submitted to the US Patent and Trademark Office, which involves the use of a radial-style menu for the Android browser and Chrome. Forget about the old way of looking for the menu button on top of an application. In the future, you can easily activate a pop-up menu by making a swipe gesture from the edge of the device’s screen.

The thing is, we don’t have to wait for the patents to be granted to see the concept being turned into reality, since Google has already implemented the radial menu option, albeit hidden, behind settings. You can activate the radial-style menu only when running Android’s native browser app (not Chrome, by the way). Simply go to Settings, Labs, and tick Quick Controls.

Since its current implementation is limited only to one app, it will be interesting to see whether Google is actually planning a somewhat grander system-wide application of the pie menu.

There are more detailed explanations and pictures of the submitted patents at Patent Bolt for those interested. What do you think of the radial-style menu? Will you miss having a menu option visible at all time? Or is the radial menu the way of the future?

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