Android Gesture Navigation: With the beta version of Android P, Google provides a new navigation system: gestures. This replaces the back home recent navigation scheme that Android has been using for years with fast movements and slides.
I have used the P-beta build with gestures enabled on my Pixel 2 since it was released on Google I / O. So I had some time to get used to the acclimatization. Early impressions look like a mix – it’s a good start, but there’s still a lot to do.
Gestures were easier to get than I expected, so the transition was quick. Some of the gestures are also faster than the key counterpart, which is nice.
On the other side of this coin, some of these gestures are actually much more difficult than using the buttons – for example, opening apps on the split-screen. Use the buttons to long-press on Recents and then select your apps. It’s easy.
Using gestures, you need to open the “New” menu, long-press the app icon, select “Split-Screen” and then select your second app. It’s not intuitive at all and takes about five times longer than before.
But I’m digressing – this is a quick overview of how gestures are used and how they differ, so I’m one step ahead of myself. Let’s take a look at these gestures, how they will work for the time being, and what we hope to change before the official release of Android P.
Note: Gestures are still clearly in beta and have not yet been completed. This is nothing more than an early look at what Google has to cook. Things can change (and very well) before gesture navigation becomes mainstream on Android.
How to activate android gesture navigation
First of all, let’s talk about how to enable this. To get started, go ahead and assign a pair of tugs to the notification bar to see the full menu of quick settings. Tap the gear icon to enter the settings menu.
Scroll all the way down in Settings and tap the “System” menu. From there, tap the “Gestures” option.
Tap the “Swipe Home Button” option and turn it on.
Boom – Gesture navigation is now activated. So the following can be expected.
Android Gesture navigation: For better or for worse
The first thing you’ll notice is that when you return to the home screen, the Back and New buttons no longer appear. This is a little shattering at first, but don’t worry – as soon as an app reaches the foreground, the Back button reappears.
However, this also shows the first oddity/annoyance: To open the Recents menu, you have to swipe the Home button up. To open the app drawer, you’ll need to swipe up a second time, making this gesture slower than in previous versions of Android. Here, all you had to do was tap on the drawer icon or swipe up to access your apps.
That means there is an advantage: you can access the app drawer from almost anywhere with just a few swipes. So it is a win-lose scenario – faster within apps, but slower on the home screen. So life is.
However, the new Recents menu is particularly nice. It provides very quick access to five of your mostly used apps. It’s kind of an app dock in the recent menu, but it’s not customizable, it’s just five apps that you’ve used a lot lately. This quickly illuminates the multitasking between several apps. It is solid
If you just swiftly switch between two apps – which you could do previously by tapping the Recents button twice – just slide the Home button to the right.
If you haven’t noticed, gesture “navigation” in the current state is only a replacement for the recent menu. The home button is still there, and the back button is still there when an app is in the foreground. At the moment this only replaces the New button.
But that’s the biggest problem right now. As mentioned earlier, this completely breaks control of the split-screen app by adding several steps that shouldn’t be there. This is a problem that Google has to deal with before it comes at the best time. So hopefully it is something that is already in the works.
In the current configuration, Android P is gesture navigation.
Interesting. It takes a little getting used to, but feels unfinished – because it is. Finally, I want a swipe left-to-back icon to appear instead of the back button, as well as a more intuitive (and easier) way to get to the split-screen.
All in all, I think this is a step in the right direction.