You can now customize the Android navigation bar (no root required)

We recently learned that Android Nougat has a neat trick up its sleeve that could open the door to customization of the virtual navigation bar. Though said feature is not yet ready for prime time, it's clear that this particular part of the Android API is open for manipulation and one developer has already taken advantage. Navbar Apps lets you decorate the navigation strip with all manner of weird and wonderful designs.

Before now, those looking to tweak this aspect of Android would have to go through the rigmarole of rooting. Now, you can really alter the look of your Android interface beyond a simple wallpaper, widget or custom launcher. 

The app is free to download while the full version can be unlocked for a dollar. You can customize the nav bar to fit in with the color schemes of certain apps, and there's even support for custom widgets, like battery level icons. 

If you've always wondered what it'd be like to alter navigation bar with ease, now's your chance. As a heads up, there's also a thriving community on Google+ sharing ideas, icons, designs and the like, which you can find at the source.



1. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Wow, my OnePlus One keeps proving to be way advanced beyond pitiful stock Android...been doing this since 2014.

2. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Custom ROMs and launchers have doing it for years too. But Stock Android is still great in responsive speed and fluidity, anyways.

3. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Yeah, it's good for that, but Cyanogen OS is also good for that while offering a lot more...oh well, that's the good thing about Android, different options for different users.

6. JC557

Posts: 1919; Member since: Dec 07, 2011

HTC and Sony (Samsung can also be quite a fluid just needs some tweaking) can make their skins just as fluid as vanilla android while offering more customization and features without having to download 3rd party apps that may create issues with Google Play Services/ Google Services (which already has issues on its own).

8. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

The whole point of stock Android isn't to have all features available from the start. The point is to be a blank canvas that the user can setup however they want, usually through root which was always one of the strengths of the Nexus series.

11. sarcastic_nerd unregistered

Why would you use virtual keys on your phone when you have the option to use capacitive keys?

12. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Main reason is the on-screen navigation bar can have more than 3 buttons, including arrow buttons for controlling the cursor when typing. That said, I still prefer the benefit of having the full screen with Capacitive buttons, so, best of both worlds and switch as I please...

13. sarcastic_nerd unregistered

You can assign long press and double tap gestures to those capacitive buttons to get usage of more buttons. Multi-tasking button -> double tap for most recent app ala nougat, long press for google now. Home button -> long press to sleep, double tap for camera Back button -> long press for shelf, didn't assign double tap since easy to confuse with pressing back 2 times. So now I have 8 functions on my OP3 from just 3 buttons, which is as much as I will ever need. I can switch to on-screen ones but they take up screen and make the typing experience bad due to keyboard being too up for my liking.

14. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Couldn't the same be done for on screen buttons? By that I mean long press, double tap, etc, for each button. Just because they're not currently programmed for it, it doesn't seem like they couldn't do it in the future.

15. sarcastic_nerd unregistered

It can be done, yes. All I'm saying is that you don't need on-screen keys to get more features into them. The only reason to use the on-screen keys over capacitive ones is the functionality of them and the customizability. But if you can do it on capacitive ones, then there is no need to use on-screen keys and manufacturers should stop making phones which force you to use on-screen keys.

16. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

Quote: "manufacturers should stop making phones which force you to use on-screen keys". But you do realize that OEMs design their devices however they the want, right? Those who want smartphones with razor-thin bezels won't have capacitive buttons. Besides, it's a matter of preference. I personally prefer on-screen keys on phablets and tablets, but I prefer capacitive keys on phones less that 5 inches.

17. sarcastic_nerd unregistered

Fact is that phones with slimmest bezels actually have capacitive buttons and phones with huge bezel like Sony or Nexus phones have the biggest bezel.

18. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

I had capacitive buttons on most of my phones, and personally I don't want to go back. I had more issues with them not picking up my touch input, and if the icons change like they're going to do in 7.1, and like they did during either the Droid Maxx or Turbo, you're stuck with the old icons. Again, just because that's the way it's been, it doesn't mean you have to have larger bezels with on screen buttons. If anything it should be the opposite.

19. sarcastic_nerd unregistered

I never had issues with capacitive keys on my last 5 Android phones.

20. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

It wasn't on all of them, but a few would just not detect my touch intermittently, no matter how hard I pressed. I know there are some saying on screen buttons take up part of the display, but not always. In YouTube, gallery apps, etc. they disappear until you swipe and they reappear. After having both, I much prefer the on screen buttons.

4. WPX00

Posts: 511; Member since: Aug 15, 2015

Does this finally mean I can add a virtual nav bar to my Samsung phones now?

5. FluffyBled unregistered

Why would you want to do that D:?

7. chocowii

Posts: 478; Member since: Jan 30, 2014

What for?

9. JoshN

Posts: 202; Member since: Apr 01, 2015

No it only works for phones who only use on screen buttons I don't have a OnePlus 2/3 to test if it works with phones with both though ?

10. yaniv00

Posts: 21; Member since: Jun 02, 2014

Nexus 6p here, Worked on marshmallow for me And works on nougat right now

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