The on-screen Navigation Bar on Android phones came as a mixed bag for many. Although it improved the usability and consistency of user experience on low-end phones, many saw it as a step backwards by just emulating the buttons on-screen.

However, by replacing physical buttons with virtual on-screen buttons, we can make the whole navigation bar more contextual. And I bet that nobody will be complaining about the virtual buttons in the first place when we enhance the whole navigation bar with contextual elements.

Imagine displaying the recently used apps icons between the Back and Home virtual keys as depicted in the attached image. This way we can seamlessly switch between apps and multitask in just one click / tap than clicking on the recent apps icon, swiping through the stack and clicking on the desired app.

Some recent phones such as the LG V10 use a secondary display for this purpose, but I believe we can accommodate the same on the main display and make it a core Android experience.