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Google won't force OEMs to use Android Q's new navigation gestures
Update: May 10, 2019 at 08:41 a.m. ET: A previous version of this story stated that users navigate back over 150 times per day, though the actual number is 120. We have fixed the error.
The third Android Q developer preview just dropped, and many people (including us) are flocking to test out what’s new. One of the most talked about changes in the new preview are the new navigation gestures.
While Google seems to be all-in on gestures in Android Q, what will happen to third-party OEM gestures? Companies like OnePlus and Motorola have developed their own gesture systems — are those going away?
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Allen Huang, Project Manager for Android System UI at Google, told Android Authority that while Google is strongly encouraging OEMs to follow the new default Android navigation gestures, it won’t explicitly force them to abandon their own.
“We see custom OEM gestures as a power user option,” stated Huang. “Gesture navigation is a challenge for developers. They need to decide ‘Which of my gestures is going to be back?'”
Huang also wants to make the Android experience more ubiquitous among consumers. He says that by offering a variety of navigation options, OEMs make it hard for consumers to understand how to navigate the system.
“People navigate back over 120 times per day,” stated Huang. “We want to make this simple to learn and understand.”
When pressing Huang about removing third-party gestures altogether, he stated that Google won’t disallow third-party gestures, but instead sees them as a power user option. He thinks OEMs should technically have the ability to set their own if they like, and Google won’t force them to stop.
At setup, users will have the option to use the new Android Q navigation gestures, or the traditional navigation buttons. Google doesn’t want to take these buttons away, stating that the option makes Android easier to navigate for a number of people, especially those who have trouple swiping on their device.
I’m personally a big fan of the OnePlus navigation gestures, and Motorola has been known to have one of the best on Android. While Google will give users the option between default Android navigation and traditional button navigation on setup, it’s nice to know users can still use the gestures OEMs have worked hard to refine.
Some users have also expressed concern about accessing Google Assistant now that pressing and holding the home button isn’t an option. In Android Q beta 3 and going forward, users can swipe in from either of the bottom corners to access Assistant. Google says it is always taking user feedback on navigation, so while the plan is to ship this gesture for the full Android Q release, everything is subject to change.
What are your thoughts on the new gestures?