Update: It turns out that, unsurprisingly, this was a bug. Google confirmed to CNET that a fix will be coming in a future software update.
Back in Android’s early days, the menu button was one of the most used buttons on the navigation bar. Eventually, Google ditched it in exchange for recent apps, but it stuck around for while on devices all the way up to the Galaxy S4 and others. At this point, everyone uses recent apps, but Google has quietly added a menu button to the Pixel 2…
The best gifts for Android users
Some custom versions of Android in the past few years have given users the option to add a menu button in one form or another, but it hasn’t been a part of a stock experience for a long time.
On the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, this functionality is well-hidden and not at all obvious. The first to spot it over at Android Police actually discovered it through “purely accidental means,” and we’ve been able to confirm it’s live on our units as well.
This button doesn’t work in all apps, mainly because the functionality has been deprecated a ton over the years. Where it is still live, though, this new “button” can certainly come in handy, especially on the bigger and taller Pixel 2 XL.
To use it, simply tap on the blank area to the right of the recent apps button. If the app supports it, you’ll feel a vibration and a menu will open. So far, I’ve found this most useful in Google Chrome, as it makes it a lot easier to access commonly used features like the share menu without any extra hand gymnastics. I will note, though, that this feature is kind of stubborn. Sometimes it works flawlessly with one tap, others it requires a double-tap, and other times it just doesn’t work at all.
From what we can tell, this isn’t a feature of Oreo, as it’s not showing up on our original Pixel devices. This could easily be something Google simply left behind from development on the Pixel 2, so I wouldn’t expect it to stick around too long…