With Android 4.x Ice Cream Sandwich, Google made one very major decision regarding the user-interface: replace physical below-screen buttons on the front of the device with virtual on-screen buttons. Instead of home, menu, back, search buttons, Ice Cream Sandwich comes with back, home and task switcher.

If you’ve been reading reviews of the Galaxy Nexus, you’ll know that the elimination of search and menu is causing the user experience to be inconsistent e.g menu buttons, whose placement Google now leaves up to developers, are placed differently in different apps.

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Developer Paul O’ Brien has come up with a hack that brings back the menu and search buttons and we’ve got a step-by-step guide after the jump that will let you know exactly how to get it working on your Galaxy Nexus.

From XDA-Developers:

Following on from my earlier ‘left hand’ patch, I now have a full set of UI patches for the Galaxy Nexus. These patches change the behaviour of the legacy menu button.

Paul O’ Brien’s hack comes in eight different packages. Each package shows the menu button in a different way: it can either be placed on the left side, right side or both sides and then be shown whenever required or all the time. There are also two packages that show both the menu button and the search button!

DISCLAIMER: Redmond Pie will not be held responsible if you lose data or your device gets damaged in the following of this guide. Proceed at your own risk.

While we could list each package here with direct download link, we think it would be better if you visit Paul’s thread on Modaco Forums and get it from there since, chances are, he might update the thread with updated packages.

Once you get the package of your choice (you must choose only one package), you must place it in the root directory of your device’s /sdcard so you can flash it in Step 5.

Step 1: Switch off your Galaxy Nexus.

Step 2: Once it is completely turned off, press and hold Volume Up + Volume Down + Power Key to enter fastboot mode. From here, you should choose Recovery using your phone’s power key.

Step 3: Your device will now boot into ClockworkMod Recovery.

Step 4: Take a nandroid backup from backup & restore > backup. This may come handy if you decide you want to revert back to previous state later.

Step 5: From main menu, install zip from sdcard > choose zip from sdcard > [file you downloaded before Step 1].

Step 6: Once the appropriate .zip file has been flashed, select reboot system now from the main menu.

For queries, check out the official thread over on XDA.

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