One of the major new features of Android Q is its gesture navigation, which we've seen Google tweak a few times during the course of its Android Q beta releases. With the final beta out and the public Q release coming soon, Google has explained why it's moving to gesture navigation.
In a post on the Android Developers Blog, Google explains that it gesture navigation offers a few improvements over Android's traditional 3-button navigation system. Those include letting you see more of your content, being more intentional than software buttons you might accidentally hit when picking up your phone, and offering a faster, more natural and ergonomic way to navigate your phone.
Google examined reachability charts that showed where users can most comfortably perform gestures while holding the phone with one hand and then based its Back and Home gestures in Android Q off of that. In Q, you'll go back with a left or right edge swipe and you'll go home with a swipe from the bottom. You can also invoke Google Assistant by swiping in from the bottom corners.
In its testing, Google found that, on average, users performed tasks involving Back and Home more quickly with those gestures than most other navigation models, including with those with buttons.
Google acknowledges that Android Q's gesture navigation does require some sacrifices. One example is the swipe to open the App Navigation Drawer, which around 3-7% of users use. Given how often people use Back, though, Google opted to move forward with its edge swipe for Back.
Google also notes that gestures are a major change and that it took an average of 1-3 days for users to adapt to them. After that period, though, Google says that users become fluent in the gesture navigation and didn't want to switch back to the 3-button navigation.
Because of all this, Google has worked with companies like Samsung, Xiaomi, HMD Global, Oppo, OnePlus, LG, Motorola, and others to standardize gesture navigation. These gestures will be the default for new Android Q and later devices. Because Google does acknowledge that gestures don't work for every user, though, it will continue to offer an option for 3-button nav on every device.
Gesture navigation seems to be the way that many smartphone makers are trending nowadays, with Apple offering gestures on the iPhone X and XS, Google making them the default in Android Q, and other Android device makers adopting them in some way, too. It's interesting to learn more about Google's decision to make gesture navigation the default with Q, and we're looking forward to seeing what regular users think of it when Android Q launches to the public this fall.
Have you tried Android Q's gestures yet? If so, what do you think?