Over­view and Ges­tures

MICHAEL SI­MON shows how to master the new nav­i­ga­tion

Android Advisor - - Contents -

For the first time since we met the nav­i­ga­tion bar, An­droid has a whole new way to get around. Pie in­tro­duces a new se­ries of ges­tures de­signed specif­i­cally for nav­i­ga­tion, and they bring some whole­sale changes to the way we launch, switch, and quit apps. Here’s how to get started.

Ges­tures: Get­ting started

When you in­stall An­droid Pie on your phone, your nav­i­ga­tion bar will look the same as it al­ways has,

with a back, home, and over­view but­ton at the bot­tom go the screen. That’s be­cause the new sys­tem is op­tional, at least for now. To try Ges­tures out, you need to turn it on. You can find the tog­gle in the Set­tings app. Open Sys­tem, then Ges­tures, and tap Swipe up on home but­ton. In­side you’ll find a soli­tary tog­gle with the same name. Flip it blue and the nav­i­ga­tion bar will change to a pill-shaped home but­ton and a thin back ar­row.

Over­view: The ba­sics

An­droid Pie in­tro­duces a brand new Over­view screen that’s quite a big change from the one in Oreo. First and fore­most, it’s ar­ranged hor­i­zon­tally rather than ver­ti­cally, so you need to swipe right rather than up to see your re­cent apps. There’s also a bar that lets you search your phone and the web, as well as five sug­gested app icons at the bot­tom of the screen. You don’t need to have ges­ture nav­i­ga­tion en­abled to use it, but it’s clearly de­signed for the new nav­i­ga­tion.

Ges­tures: The ba­sics

With ges­ture nav­i­ga­tion, the vir­tual home but­ton is a whole lot more prac­ti­cal than it was be­fore. Here are all the things it can do:

Tap: Go to the home screen Long press: Sum­mon Google As­sis­tant Swipe up: En­ter Over­view screen Long swipe up: Open app drawer Flick right: Switch to last used app Swipe right: Browse re­cently opened apps

Swipe left: Noth­ing Back but­ton: Re­turn to the pre­vi­ous screen

Ges­tures: Im­pres­sions

While it takes some get­ting used to, the sys­tem is mostly an im­prove­ment over the old method. Most An­droid phones, es­pe­cially pre­mium ones, dumped their home but­tons long ago, and the vir­tual but­tons on the nav­i­ga­tion bar al­ways seemed like a crutch. The ges­ture-based nav­i­ga­tion on Pie is fluid and nat­u­ral, and the ges­tures are all in­tu­itive. My only com­plaint is that you can’t swipe to go back a screen so you still need to use the back but­ton. But oth­er­wise, ges­ture nav­i­ga­tion on An­droid Pie is a re­fresh­ing change and it should lead to some cool tweaks from other phone

man­u­fac­tur­ers as they adapt the sys­tem to their own in­ter­faces and de­signs.

But the best thing about Ges­tures is that it’s op­tional. Even as it’s be­come more closed, An­droid’s big­gest ad­van­tage over iOS is that it al­lows users to cus­tom­ize and per­son­al­ize it to their lik­ing, and the new nav­i­ga­tion sys­tem is no ex­cep­tion. If you still want the clas­sic nav bar, just keep ‘Swipe up on home but­ton’ turned off and you’ll be able to nav­i­gate just like you did be­fore. But with the new Over­view screen and the re­lent­less push by phone mak­ers to eliminate bezels al­to­gether, Ges­tures make a lot of sense. I sus­pect it’ll be the de­fault nav­i­ga­tion on An­droid Q.

Ges­tures: Tips and tricks Use two apps side by side

Google in­tro­duced Multi Win­dow for phones in Nougat, but the method was con­vo­luted. When in the Over­view win­dow, you needed to tap and hold on a win­dow and drag it to the top of the screen to ini­ti­ate Multi Win­dow and then tap a sec­ond win­dow to launch them to­gether. In Pie’s new Over­view screen, it’s a lot sim­pler. To start Multi Win­dow, long-press on the icon above the screen to bring up the menu, and se­lect Split Screen. Then tap a sec­ond screen to launch the two win­dows side by side. And when you’re ready to go back to sin­gle app view, drag the han­dle all the way to the bot­tom of the screen.

Quit an app

If you want to quit an app, the method is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent thanks to the new mul­ti­task­ing carousel. You

don’t swipe left or tap a lit­tle X – you sim­ply swipe up on a screen un­til it dis­ap­pears. And if you need to force stop or unin­stall an app, long-press on the icon above the win­dow and se­lect App info.

Share any­thing you can see in Over­view

You’ll need a Pixel phone to take ad­van­tage of this, and it’s such a great fea­ture that you might want to run out and buy one just to use it. When you’re in the Over­view screen, you’re free to copy any­thing you can see. Just tap and hold on a pic­ture or a por­tion of text to se­lect it. Then you can ei­ther copy it to the clip­board and bring it to an­other app, or tap Share to bring up the shar­ing menu.

Add a third icon to the nav bar

You’ve prob­a­bly no­ticed that there’s an empty space to the right of the home but­ton in the new ges­ture nav­i­ga­tion bar. That’s be­cause it can be filled with icons as they’re needed. When you have au­toro­tate turned off, for ex­am­ple, a small ro­ta­tion icon will ap­pear when you turn your phone to let you tem­po­rar­ily change your ori­en­ta­tion. And if you have more than one key­board in­stalled, a key­board icon will ap­pear when the key­board is be­ing used to let you eas­ily pick a new one.

Google’s new ges­ture-based nav­i­ga­tion in An­droid P is en­tirely op­tional and easy to switch on and off

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