Here is how the new Nav bar works on the HTC One M8 for Windows

The HTC One M8 for Windows brings many 'firsts' to the table, including support for the 801 chipset, duo camera and more. One of those originals is the ability to hide the Nav bar aka where the Start, Search and Back key reside. On previous Windows Phones these keys were part of the device, so that when the display is off they were still visible. Now with Windows Phone 8.1, manufacturers get the ability to use on-screen keys instead, cutting down costs and letting companies like HTC port over their Android phones with no change in the hardware.

Although phones like the Nokia Lumia 630 have on-screen keys, the HTC One for Windows adds a few options to the mix, including an auto-hide option. Here's how it all works.

Why hide the Nav bar?

By default, the HTC One M8 for Windows features a small down arrow to the left of the Nav bar. Users can tap this to hide the Nav bar, giving the ability to get a "full screen" experience. Of course, it is not so much as gaining more but rather matching previous 1080P displays. In other words, by default a Lumia Icon at 1080P shows more information than the HTC One for Windows with the Nav bar displayed. Both are 1080P, but the HTC One uses some of the screen real-estate to show the on-screen keys. By selectively hiding them, users get the same visual experience as the Lumia Icon.

Options are useful

The HTC One gives users a few options for the Nav bar that are not available on devices like the Lumia 630. Those configuration choices are:

  • Auto hide/show the Nav bar – Allows apps to automatically show or hide the Navigation bar
  • Swipe to hide the Nav bar – To hide the navigation bar, swipe up from the bottom of the screen

The first option lets programs take over the Nav bar, e.g. in the Photos Hub, where a full-screen experience would be preferred, likewise for games. To get the Nav bar back users just swipe up from the bottom of the display. If this option is not chosen, the Nav bar is always displayed, and it is left to the user to hide it when preferred by hitting the down arrow.

The second option is for gestures. Instead of the down arrow, you can swipe up from the bottom of the display to both show and hide the Nav bar. Enabling this gets rid of the arrow altogether, and instead you use the same gesture to hide or bring back the Nav bar, which is better since you do not have to tap a particular location, as you can swipe up anywhere along the bottom of the display.

Isn't it annoying?

You may be wondering if this Nav bar stuff is frustrating. Overall, so far I cannot say it is. It does take some getting used to, but I like the auto-hide feature and the swipe up option. Just like any other gesture system, eventually it becomes automatic, and you do it without thought. It can be strange at first, as you have to take a moment to realize that the Nav bar is 'gone', but it is more of an adjustment than anything.

Some apps, like today's CoPilot Premium, do not auto-hide the Nav bar. As a result, you get a weird situation where elements of the app are blocked by those controls. Of course, you can just swipe up to hide them, and you are good to go, but this is something app developers have to think about going forward as they design and test their apps. Overall, though, most apps run just fine, and this is the exception.

Make sure you watch the video above to see it all in action.

What do you think of the hide Nav bar feature? Does the loss of some screen space for those keys bother you and is this variation something that changes your mind about the HTC One? Sound off below!

Daniel Rubino
Editor-in-chief

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

202 Comments
  • Could this be an option in 630, in future??
  • I sure hope so. Use that device as going out phone
  • Hey guys welcome to the NEW charms bar. I bet this is what becomes of the charms in Windows 9. Basically the same idea, just a new location.
  • Isnt it already? Shouldnt this be the way it works for all devices with onscreen nav buttons?
  • Nope.
  • Daniel. You should've showed how the M8(W) works compared to the M8(A), using both devices in the video, and showing the features of both as well..
    ..............
    This is something that a lot of us have been asking for lately.. WPC needs to do MORE COMPARISONS between WP devices, and equivalent Android devices.. And, this is going to be even more interesting when more WP devices using Android hardware are released... We might actually come up with some great ideas to post to the WP uservoice page, so it actually does have its advantages... Please consider this. Thanks❗
  • Wouldn't that just turn WP into android, suggesting android inspired features?
  • Has any feature that Android had first ever turned WP into Android❓
    ..............
    Instead of being immaturely defense, and negatively biased, of other platforms, shouldn't we be honest about what they might have that could benefit WP as well? A good idea is a good idea, and we'd be cheating ourselves to not ask MS to do their version of it... This is nothing new.
    .............
    And, it's not all about finding features WP can steal from Android.. For many of us it's just plain interesting.. I was just mentioning that as another benefit...
  • I can't shake the feeling that most of the audiance over here would give their right testicle if these features were Nokia features - screaming instabuy and posting all "+randomnumber" all over this place, but once one of the other OEMs does something out of the blue, this "TOO MUCH ANDROID" remark is almost screamed instantly. Guess what Nokia fanboys; Noklia has dropped the ball and was slacking on a lot of things. Release phone X, release crippled version of phone x with too less ram and a worse screen, release phone X with better cam and better screen as flagship. Bring out phone X with bigger screen. Rince, repeat. It was a matter of time before these things were bound to happen. Deal with it. Just like with the Samsung WP line up, coming on the market with Microsd slots. "THE DESIGN IS ALL SAMSUNG GALAXY!"  Who cares? Windows Phone as an ecosystem NEEDS different types of handsets, hardware and features to keep appealing to the general public. Not only recycling older hardware with minimal design and feature changes "because it doesn't need newer hardware because the OS is so fast".
  • Oh good grief. This has nothing to do with Nokia "fanboys". (1) Soft buttons stink. Nokia or otherwise. (2) the Nokia phones that have used them so far have extras screen height to allow for the nav bar. No need for hiding, and the apps probably couldn't even use the extra space if they could hide... WP supports only certain resolutions.
  • Well, we agree on one thing, softbuttons stink. But it's refreshing to see another oem/phonebrand getting some attention on this site aswell, since it's always Nokia. ;)
  • How do you turn a debate over buttons into an argument about OEM's?... This has nothing to do with that, and we're not trying to hear it.
  • Not sure what it has to do with the site... they cover whatever Windows Phone news is out there.  If HTC or Samsung are not releasing phones or making announcements or plans to release phones, then there's not much choice but to cover Nokia.  I've always found it very strange that people seem to think WPCentral is in some way biased because there are so many Nokia stories.  Nokia has been the only company supporting and releasing products for WP... what are they supposed to do, make up stories about other brands?
  • I don't want to support this argument, but the funny thing is that the past few days have been all about HTC, and this dude is still complaining.. Lol❗❗
  • Well, i do get that, and i actually think it's good that Wpcentral covers other oems too.. I should have phrased that differently. It's just that the general public seems 'kinda biased' against anything that's not Nokia coming out, running Windows Phone. A lot of times, under articles you can just skip half of the comments cause they are just plain hatred against other OEM's/brands. Not WPcentrals fault at all, they should receive a medal for still posting news regarding phones by other brands, considering the replies to those news..
  • Come on, dude.. Please delete that comment.. It has nothing to do with what we're talking about.. We don't want to start that conversation....
  • Uhm. No. I won't. Freedom of speech and all. Discussion on a site. Besides, I wasn't the one who first used the a-droid word. Fact is that when Nokia introduces a novelty, the +number idiots all gather and circlejerk, and when another brand does it, it's cleary copied from Android. Because all other oems make Android phones aswell, so it can never be any good. It's all so cringy.
  • Hey idiot, freedom of speech has nothing to do with your comment on a website. If WPCentral wanted to they could delete your comment without notice.   That being said I agree with your overall point, this post just oozed Nokia all over the place. 
  • I can't say I agree with his point because I'm not trying to hear it... Lol❗ .. He's just trying to pick a fight with Nokia fans, and nobody is even talking about that... I just think he should've made that comment on his own without leaching off mine... I hate when people leach just to get their point near the top...
  • Hello fellow idiot.. Thanks for proving my point by calling other people idiot. Feel high and mighty now, calling other people names? Please continue your circlejerking.
  • Yeah, but this isn't about that.. It's about what Microsoft does for WP.. The entire OS.. It's not about a Lumia specific feature... Who said anything about Nokia, or Lumia devices?... My original comment was about suggestions to Uservoice for WP, and the dude asked if that would benefit WP... Nobody wants to argue whatever it is you're trying to stir up....
    ..............
    Its bad enough that my comment was slightly off topic, but yours is seriously for another conversation... Why❓
  • Contrary to common belief, freedom of speech does not extend to your posting on someone else's website(s).  The owner's of the websites and their agents (moderators, etc.) have the full right and authority to inhibit or ban your posting priveleges (which they grant, not the 1st Amendment). That said: 1. rodneyej (unless he is an agent of this site) has no authority to control yours or anyone else's posts. 2. If you want to exercise your 1st Amendment rights to free speech, fire up your own website.  Since you would then be the owner, you can do whatever you want.
  • Right.. I can't make him do anything... But, I can call him out for "leaching", which is very annoying... That's all I'm doing..
    ............
    But, I think what was more annoying about it this time was how attacking, and negative, he was.... He really has just ruined everyone's day. Lol❗❗
  • +1020 (after reading all that I felt this was appropriate)
    I'm glad to see HTC making windows phone news and I am thinking of snatching the M8 once it's released on at&t.
    A comparison video I would like to see is the camera/video recording. 1020/1520/930/Icon vs M8
    I don't have the luxury to buy an M8 and compare the difference between my 1020. I'm fairly confident the Nokia's Lumia 1020 41mp will defeat the HTC One in pictures however how does it hold up in video recording?
    Will I see a significant difference when posting to Instagram or Facebook?
  • I want to see the M8(W) camera compared to the M8(A) camera... That's what I'm talking about❗❗❗❗❗❗❗❗
  • Lol I know Rodneyej.
    I wouldn't mind seeing that either.
    Are you thinking about making a switch to the HTC M8 (w)?
    I know you are extremely happy with your L1520 20mp Camera and Screen Size so I don't think you'd be willing to give that up right.
  • No.. I can't go any lower than 6" now.. I'm hooked.. And, I hate to admit that I'm closed mined to other OEMs besides Microkia right now... So, my next device is probably going to be the next 1520.
  • I felt the same way about my 1020. I have sometime to think about it since its probably going to be months before at&t get's it but looking at the overall phone the HTC One is beast (other than the camera). I think this is great for the platform if it does well & I honestly don't think Microsoft wants to hurt the htc one's sales so they wont release a flagship phone for awhile. IMO.
  • Well, some people might think the layout of your posts... Is somewhat....... Annoying....... If you get........ Where i'm going at.......!!!!! But who am i to tell you to....... take down........ your post cause they annoy me...... Would make me seems kinda silly and arrogant, no? !!! It does annoy the frig outta me that the comment system is this severly broken on this site. Quoting and replying does not work AT ALL. Also, leaching? I wasn't aware i was: "extracting minerals from a solid by dissolving them in a liquid". Lolwut?
  • You're being a complete idiot. Just stop.
    Nobody's even talking to you anymore...
  • Who's your new friend rodneyej?
    He seems like a total ASS!
  • I don't know.. His user name looks kinda familiar... He's annoying, but he's probably pretty cool... I'm not gonna be too rude to him.. I mean, he doesn't appear to be an all out fool like we've seen before... If I can be peaceful with DCJBS then I can make peace with anyone.. Lol!
    And, I like DCJBS because he's a smart dude, it's just his negativity, and complete bias against MS, that gets annoying sometimes... Other than that I give him credit when I can. He's cool.
  • DCJBS is something else.
    This guy looks like he's had something bottled up inside for awhile lol Your a good man rodneyej
  • Thanks!! ... He really despises MS.. I think.
  • Should i get you guys a room to gay it out? Perhaps u can measure up your nokias.
  • Lol!!!!!!!!!!! You wanna come with us❓❓❓
    .............
    See.. I knew there was something I liked about you... You kinda remind me of NIST.
  • We'll show you a real circlejerk ;)
  • They just can't accept it, that Android has some pretty neat features, lol.
  • You're right. Did Action Centre or Cortana ruin Windows Phone? Nope. We need more ideas to improve Windows Phone so people using Android, iOS will make it easy to switch.
  • Exactly..
  • That's like saying Cortana turns WP into IOS because Apple came up with a natural language, always-on digital assistant first. It's called feature parity, and we're finally getting there. I would say we're past IOS in terms of feature set with the latest devices like the One for Windows. (that name, though... They should have just called it the One W8)
  • I agree.
  • Nah... You just have that option when viewing videos
  • On-screen buttons are the worst.  Why do people put up with that?  It's bad enough Samsung hides their buttons on the galaxy series when not being pressed.  It's a style decision that isn't necessary. 
  • I don't really see the conceptual difference between on-screen-keys and the more traditional soft-keys. As far as I understand, the traditional soft-keys were also part of the screen/digitizer but could simply not be used because there was obviously no display behind them. In regards to the topic: as long as having them permanently displayed or automatically hidden, I do not see an issue with that, in fact I think its neat.
  • Actually, I find it practical and beneficial.  Used to be, when operating the phone in landscape, part of my hand would inevetiably touch the windows or back key as I reached my thumb across the screen screwing up the game I was playing or the app I was working in.  This feature completely eliminates those mis-hits.
  • That is actually a huge potential benefit of the software keys! That used to drive me completely batty in the days of fruit ninja on my HD7...
  • I think that MS has deliberately made this change in WP8.1 so that the existing android phones can easily be converted to support WP phones.  It is a compromise but it is also a necessary strategy.  HTC One for Windows is the first fruit of the on-going effort.  Hopefully, we will see more high-end android phones that will come out with a Windows version.  I would like to see that LG G3, Sony Xperia Z2, Samsung Galaxy K Zoom will all come out with a Windows version.  They can just replace with WP firmware on the existing phone hardware as HTC has done.  They will have nothing to lose but everything to gain with a small investment in the software engineering.  I personally prefer physical buttons for the navigation and camera.  But I can also adapt to the soft buttons if I'm forced to do so.
  • this is from update 1, so it is not a HTC feature
  • No, this is from first PfD 8.1. Navigation bar with hide option could be easily enabled in Ativ S by registry edit. I was very disappointed, that Lumia 630 hasn't this feature.
  • The 630 has extra pixels to accomodate the navigation bar without interfering with apps, so it doesn't need this option.
  • Exactly!
  • Yes. It is all software based.
  • Doesn't the 630 have a screen thats an extra 54 pixels tall relative to a "normal" screen so that it won't take up any usable space? I just picked up the Windows M8, its a great device and the navigation bar is easy to get used to, but I think I'd prefer the extra pixels in situations where you need to click something at the bottom of the screen
  • It's not an option because the 630 has 54 extra pixels there for the sake of the nav bar. You're still getting the full Windows Phone experience. The One let's you hide it because it's using a regular 1080p display, making some of the content is being hidden. The 630 does not have this problem, nothing is being 'covered' by the nav bar. As such, most (if not all) apps would still have that black bar there anyways. If course, Microsoft could open this up with a future update to allow hiding the nav bar on devices like this, and allow developers to use that extra real estate on devices where the nav bar is hidden. But as it stands now: The 630 has extra pixels dedicated to the nav bar that can't be used by the OS in its current state. Might as well always have the buttons.
  • I have the 630 and the navbar does definitely cover things up, even in Microsoft's Videos app! When I'm watching something I can see the content going underneath the navbar (a logo from a tv channel for example!)...   I'm pretty miffed the 630 can't hide it, because it's definitely covering up content that should otherwise be visible.
  • Nope. http://oem.windowsphone.com says it's available only on devices with at least a qHD display, while the 630 has a lower resolution one (FWVGA)
  • I hope Nokia will add this feature in the rumoured debian r