It is rumored that Android Q may roll out new gesture navigation for the back button in favor of current navigation gestures in Android Pie. The XDA team obtained a prototype of Android Q which had ditched the back button. Since the home button in the iPhone X was rolled out, several industry giants have been experimenting with gesture navigation as a favorable alternative to gesture controls. Gesture navigation has received positive responses from OnePlus and Xiaomi users recently, however, their Google counterpart in Android Pie has had inconclusive reception.
The current Google navigation gesture
In Android 9 Pie the navigation system changed to two buttons from three. There is an inconsistency in the current version such that a majority of the software uses gesture navigation, except for the back button. The recent apps button was ditched in Android 9 Pie and the home button was made into a gesture pill. The current navigation system is as follows:
- Tap pill to go to the home screen
- Long press of the pill launches Google Assistant
- Short swipe up of the pill opens horizontal recent apps overview
- Long swipe up of the pill opens the App drawer
- Sliding the pill to the right allows users to scroll through recent apps
- Sliding the pill quickly to the right opens the last app
- The back button hidden on the launcher screen allows you to go back.
The most common complaints about this navigation system include a dislike for the back button and the difficulty long swiping to open the app drawer. There is no news on whether the long swipe feature will also disappear, but the chances of the back button disappearing seem optimistic.
Alleged Android Q gesture navigation
Replacing the back button with gesture navigation means that swiping from left to right will be the equivalent of the back button. If these changes in the prototype are finalized, long pressing the home pill button will launch Google assistant, tapping it will return the screen to home, and swiping left and right will allow users to navigate between apps.
Apart from ditching the back button, the fluidity of the last app transition animation will likely be improved. The three-button navigation system will be entirely unavailable as it will not be possible to disable gesture navigation.
The first developer preview of Android P did not have gesture navigation however they were present in the second preview. The first developer preview of Android Q is set to be released soon. Once the preview is released, it may be confirmed if the back button is gone for good or not.
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