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Android Q may remove the back button and replace it with proper gesture navigation

By Greg S ยท 14 replies
Feb 19, 2019
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  1. Gesture navigation has grown in popularity due to the fact that it does not take up as much screen real estate as dedicated buttons. Android 9 Pie brought about the pill icon and pseudo-gesture navigation scheme. For Android Q, Google may be going for full gesture navigation and eliminating the back button.

    Over at XDA Developers, there has been code changes discovered that indicate a back button could be gone with the next major release of Android. As a disclaimer, the changes are part of a pre-release build that does not guarantee any changes will make it to a released version, but past history has shown that major aspects of the OS such as navigation are rarely changed before final release.

    Instead of having the back button on the left side of the pill-shaped home button, a swipe left will replace that functionality. There are some theories that Google may have just been afraid of making too many changes too quickly to Android Pie. Instead of going all in on gesture navigation right away and ditching the three button setup, we were left with the strange hybrid navigation on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Going forward, Google might be making it the fluid experience that was originally intended.

    Getting used to a new navigation style may be difficult for some, but it should be a pretty natural change for those that have used the Pixel launcher. Other manufacturers aside from Google will likely come up with their own variants of gesture navigation, but that may not be a bad thing. After all, if you do not like the original set of gestures, installing a new launcher can likely remedy the situation.

    Image Credit: Lead via Shutterstock

    Permalink to story.

  2. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,890   +1,166

    As long as Nova Launcher allows for the "old style" buttons, I don't care. I prefer the back, home buttons.
    Panda218 likes this.
  3. amghwk

    amghwk TS Guru Posts: 489   +302

    I'm using gesture navigation in Huawei Mate 20 X, and got used to it very quickly and the extra screen space obtained by removing the navigation bar in the already big screen is very much appreciable. I don't think I'll go back to using the bar or buttons again. (At least in the phones that support this feature.)

    Edit: I'm using Nova Launcher too in this phone.
  4. Wessell Urdata

    Wessell Urdata TS Booster Posts: 40   +52

    I upgraded to Resurrection Remix Pie on my phone and soon went back to Oreo. The changes were too much for me to handle and I don't like the circular icons in Pie.

    Don't think I'd upgrade any furthur.
    kira setsu likes this.
  5. xxLCxx

    xxLCxx Banned Posts: 226   +149

    Google is trying really hard to alienate their users.
    Use their service => service is cancelled, go f*** you dear user!
    Use their OS => this is the way to go, no wait this is better; then again, maybe the other was better; let's try something new here; not like that, it's being done like this now or maybe like that...

    If those were major improvements, I'd be the first to applaud. They are not. Google increasingly behaves like a teenager in puberty.
    I wonder what would happen, if we designed new traffic signs and regulations every six months?
    BSim500 likes this.
  6. TJayy

    TJayy TS Rookie

    Ugh, please no. The back button is one of the reasons I love android UI over apple. Why would they go backwards from a simple, efficient tap to a swipe in a particular spot? I really hope they come to their senses that less is not always best.
    Humza, fimbles, xxLCxx and 1 other person like this.
  7. fimbles

    fimbles TS Evangelist Posts: 1,194   +209

    How can a gesture be easier than pressing a dedicated button?

    Please dont do it google.
    xxLCxx likes this.
  8. m-tec

    m-tec TS Enthusiast Posts: 64   +16

    My phone has buttons, got android 9 3 weeks ago and buttons still work on my Nokia 8 and no sign of gestures! Woo!
  9. Nobina

    Nobina TS Evangelist Posts: 1,840   +1,351

    I'm sure gesture navigation can be as good as what we have now but probably the only reason they are doing it is cause iPhones have it and everyone at Google dreams of having an iPhone.
  10. lexster

    lexster TS Booster Posts: 120   +71

    If they get rid of the back button, I won't use it. Sorry Google, basic functionality needs to take precedent over the gimmick of gesture based navigation.
    Wessell Urdata and xxLCxx like this.
  11. Dosahka

    Dosahka TS Booster Posts: 120   +44

    For the ones who is complaining, it's simple:
    Not how learn and use gestures is hard, but to forget back button.
    Also how unpopular was the ubuntu phone OS with gestures, now Apple and Huawei using it...it was just simply ahead of it's time and ppl couldn't imagine their day without back button or home button.
    It's is quite easy to close an app on an iPhone X or XR/S, even if the bar isn't there, as far as I know on android displaying the navigation buttons vary app by app, brand by brand and many other factor.
    Also there is an option to hide it (so you have to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to use it).
    For me and as I've seen for elderly ppl Apple's way is much easier and quicker to learn, rather than tapping the back button many times, or swipe up to see the navigation buttons then press, just swipe up from the bottom of the screen (even in landscape mode) and it's done.
    I'm using Note 9 as a work phone, but whenever I try to use always wondering why android has to be so complicated? (I'm not isheep. izombie...etc or any other, there pros and cons for both systems)
    p.s. this is all IMHO and my point of view.
  12. lexster

    lexster TS Booster Posts: 120   +71

    There's an old saying; "If it's not broken, don't fix it." The Home/Back/App buttons serve a very good purpose. Gestures in many circumstances can be difficult or impossible to perform, but the buttons are always there and always work.
    Beakerman and xxLCxx like this.
  13. Beakerman

    Beakerman TS Rookie

    Have they not thought about disabled and fine motor-control challenged persons?

    Removing dedicated home, back, etc. buttons is a big step backwards for access and ease of use.
    lexster and xxLCxx like this.
  14. Wessell Urdata

    Wessell Urdata TS Booster Posts: 40   +52

    If "if it ain't broken, don't fix it" is applied, then we would be staying at a certain level of technological advancement without much progress.
    However, I am not saying that new is always better, and replacing the three buttons, namely Back, Home and Recent Apps with gestures control is not good, despite being newer, in my very subjective opinion due to its learning curve and stark difference to the aforementioned three button formula.
    Stagnation kills creativity and the thing that makes companies go bankrupt. On the other hand, poor decision-making from corporations also causes companies to go bankrupt. Therefore, I believe that it should be "if it ain't broken, improve it" and companies should build new, actually useful features onto their golden formula. Oh and very important tip for any companies, LISTEN TO YOUR TARGET CUSTOMER.

    Felt bored so I decided to give my two cents.
    xxLCxx likes this.
  15. lexster

    lexster TS Booster Posts: 120   +71

    I'm all about progress. Progress that makes sense however. Change for the sake of a few never makes sense.
    I agree with most of this.
    Wessell Urdata and xxLCxx like this.

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