Looking at Android P’s gesture navigation
All gestures are not created equally. MICHAEL SIMON reports
As expected, Google introduced a new way to navigate Android with gestures instead of virtual buttons, and it’s sure to spur opinions among both Android and iOS users. But while it might seem like a blatant rip-off of Apple’s iPhone X navigation, Google’s method – which is says it’s been working on since before the iPhone X landed
– differs from Apple’s in meaningful ways. The early beta suggests that the experience will actually improve on Android’s speed and intuition. Here are four reasons why we’re looking forward to it on the Pixel and other Android P phones.
1. It’s optional
The biggest difference between the gesture navigation in iOS 11 and Android P is that Google is letting you switch it on and off. Head over to the new Gestures menu in Settings and you’ll find a Swipe up on Home Button toggle that will enable the new system, elongating the home button and removing the square tasks button. Don’t like it? Just switch it off to go back to the old nav bar.
2. The home button is also a scroll bar
On the iPhone X, the navigation bar is little more than a line at the button of the screen that Apple calls a “home indicator”. But on Android it’s still a virtual button. That means you can still long-press it to bring up Google Assistant, but it also has a new trick: scrolling. Swipe to the left or right on the new home button, and you’ll instantly be taken to the app carousel, where you can scroll to select an app. It’s super-easy and actually makes it quicker to jump back and forth between apps.
3. You can grab text in the app switcher
When you swipe up to enter the app switcher on Android P, you’re not just looking at visual snapshots of the apps you recently used – they are actually
dynamic images that you can interact with. Like the iPhone X, you can swipe up on one of the screens to quit it, but you can also long press inside them to select text. From here, you can move the handles to select the words you want, and copy, search, or translate what’s between them, all without opening the app.
4. Smart shortcuts make switching faster
When you swipe up to enter the multitasking carousel in Android P, you won’t just get a scrollable set of your most recent screens. You’ll also see shortcuts to five predictive apps curated using Google’s on-device machine learning. Apple does something similar with its Siri suggestions on the Spotlight search screen, but it’s much handier on Android P.
Google’s new gesture-based navigation can be turned on and off with a switch