Android Q will standardize OS navigation in bid to improve overall user experience

Google Pixel 3
Image credit: TechRadar

With Google’s introduction of an iPhone X-style navigation system in Android Pie a year ago, the new interface has usurped the classic three-button system with a more gesture-based approach – although so far, it's only available on select devices, including on the flagship Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.

The tech giant behind the Android operating system has now announced that it will be pushing even harder with its interface revolution by further altering this ‘pill’ gesture system and standardizing the navigation controls on every new handset sporting the upcoming Android Q.

Discussing the forthcoming update with Digital Trends, Android’s user interface product manager Allen Huang said that both a revamped version of the gesture-based navigation system as well as the classic three-button system will be installed by default on all major handsets with Android Q in the future, with users asked to choose between the two during device setup.

Once set up, users will still have the option to switch over to a manufacturer’s native navigation system if desired – for instance, Samsung, OnePlus or Huawei’s nuanced take on the controls will be accessible as an option, just not freshly out of the box.

Google says that the revised gesture controls will be swipe-based, with a quick up-swipe sending you home, a left- or right-swipe flipping between recent apps, and a swipe-up-and-hold gesture opening up the recent apps menu.

Meanwhile, the dedicated ‘back’ button will be replaced with another gesture – swiping in from either the left or right side of the screen.

Huang stated that the real benefit of creating such a unified system was to allow for app developers to more reliably produce apps that work across the full spectrum of Android devices. “If everyone does their own thing, Android apps are going to get worse,” he said.

These changes won’t affect current handsets that get the Android Q update, as Google doesn't want to disrupt the experience of existing users. However, any new phone that arrives with the new OS out of the box will have the revised system in place.

Harry Domanski
Harry is an Australian Journalist for TechRadar with an ear to the ground for future tech, and the other in front of a vintage amplifier. He likes stories told in charming ways, and content consumed through massive screens. He also likes to get his hands dirty with the ethics of the tech.