Google Accidentally Reveals Android P Gesture Navigation

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Android P gesture nav?

If you look back at the history of Android, Google took several years to settle on a navigation scheme. The first Android phone had seven buttons (if you count the trackball) on the front, and subsequent phones fooled around with four or five in various orders. Things have been stable with back, home, and overview buttons since Android 4.0, but now Google looks to be preparing for something new. The company has accidentally revealed that Android P will have gesture controls like the iPhone X.

The info comes by way of Google’s own developer site. On it, a screenshot for an unrelated feature included some unusual navigation behavior. It has a flat bar at the bottom in the center and a back button on the left. There’s no multitasking button at all. Google quickly edited the page to remove the screenshot, but you can see a cropped version above, showing off the buttons, as well as the full, unedited screen below.

After seeing the apparent gesture nav in Google’s screen, everyone rushed to check out the developer preview. However, the new navigation UI doesn’t show up. That suggests it’s still something Google is working on internally. It may not be released as part of the developer preview at all. Instead, gesture navigation could come to Android P on phones like the Pixel 3, which is rumored to have an iPhone X-like notch.

Ryan Whitwam

Android P’s current (standard) nav bar compared to the leaked gesture nav.

The flat bar in the middle looks very much like the home gesture indicator on the iPhone X, but we can’t be certain of anything yet. If this is gesture navigation, developers are in for fun times. Some sources say the back button only appears when it’s needed, but developers would need to update their apps to account for that. There were still apps calling up a menu button years after Google ditched that nav element in 4.0. It’s also unclear how features like Google Assistant or multitasking would work with Android gesture nav.

We could hear more about gesture nav at Google I/O in the next few weeks.

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Android P gesture nav?

If you look back at the history of Android, Google took several years to settle on a navigation scheme. The first Android phone had seven buttons (if you count the trackball) on the front, and subsequent phones fooled around with four or five in various orders. Things have been stable with back, home, and overview buttons since Android 4.0, but now Google looks to be preparing for something new. The company has accidentally revealed that Android P will have gesture controls like the iPhone X.

The info comes by way of Google’s own developer site. On it, a screenshot for an unrelated feature included some unusual navigation behavior. It has a flat bar at the bottom in the center and a back button on the left. There’s no multitasking button at all. Google quickly edited the page to remove the screenshot, but you can see a cropped version above, showing off the buttons, as well as the full, unedited screen below.

After seeing the apparent gesture nav in Google’s screen, everyone rushed to check out the developer preview. However, the new navigation UI doesn’t show up. That suggests it’s still something Google is working on internally. It may not be released as part of the developer preview at all. Instead, gesture navigation could come to Android P on phones like the Pixel 3, which is rumored to have an iPhone X-like notch.

Ryan Whitwam

Android P’s current (standard) nav bar compared to the leaked gesture nav.

The flat bar in the middle looks very much like the home gesture indicator on the iPhone X, but we can’t be certain of anything yet. If this is gesture navigation, developers are in for fun times. Some sources say the back button only appears when it’s needed, but developers would need to update their apps to account for that. There were still apps calling up a menu button years after Google ditched that nav element in 4.0. It’s also unclear how features like Google Assistant or multitasking would work with Android gesture nav.

We could hear more about gesture nav at Google I/O in the next few weeks.



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