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Get used to gesture navigation because it's coming to more Android phones

Google has confirmed gesture navigation can't be disabled on the Pixel 3, and that all future Android phones will feature it by default.
By
October 10, 2018
TL;DR
  • Gesture navigation can’t be disabled on the Google Pixel 3, and Google says this be the case for all future Android phones.
  • The company made the comments on Twitter, though there’s a chance the information isn’t completely accurate.

Google has been talking about gesture controls since I/O 2018, introducing the navigation method as an option in Android Pie. However, with the launch of the Pixel 3, this feature is no longer optional; you can’t disable gesture navigation on the new flagship phone.

And the situation will soon be the same for all Androids.

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Responding to question on Twitter yesterday, Google said gesture navigation would represent “navigation on all Android phones going forward.” Though this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be denied the option to disable the gestures on your smartphone in the future, given Google’s interest in them — and its ‘change is hard’ rhetoric — this will almost certainly be the case.

This type of navigation means you can perform certain Android actions without tapping specific buttons, but instead by performing certain gestures, like swiping across the display. In its current form, it removes the overview button traditionally found at the bottom right of Android phones — a move that has irked some long-time fans.

Hi! Pixel 3 introduces a new pattern that will represent navigation on all Android phones going forward. While change & adapting to new patterns is hard, we believe it’s a better navigation pattern & makes app switching a faster experience.
— Made by Google (@madebygoogle) October 9, 2018

The news reaffirms comments made by Google’s E.K. Chung — the Lead Android Mobile OS & Pixel Software Experience manager — earlier this year. Chung said in August: “While Pixel devices that are updated from Oreo will still see their three-button navigation by default with an option to switch to gestures, future Google phones (and any other manufacturer that wants it) will ship with only gesture navigation.”

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At the time, the notion of “any other manufacturer that wants it” suggested folks could pick up a certain OEM’s Android phone to avoid the enforced gesture controls. This would seemingly no longer be the case.

However, there’s a glimmer of hope in the fact that company social media messages are frequently misinformed or incorrect. Google has historically been fairly liberal with what Android manufacturers can change with regards to the UI and navigation buttons, it would be a sharp turn if it enforced gesture navigation now.

What do you think of the news? Let us know in the comments.