Android Pie (Android 9) introduced a set of new navigation gestures to replace the navigation buttons. Of course, there are many new features in Android Pie as explained in this guide.
If you just switched to Android from iPhone, you will get used to these Android Pie navigation gestures very quickly. But if you prefer the three navigation buttons, you need some time to adjust.
This Android Pie guide explains how to enable Android Pie navigation gestures, how to disable them, how to use them, and answer some questions you may have on Android Pie gestures.
In Android OS, the navigation buttons had been an essential part. Since Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS, Android 4.0), on-screen navigation buttons (software based navigation button) has been introduced to replace the hardware capacitive buttons.
Although Google wanted to kill the hardware buttons in Android (FYI, all Google released phones including Nexus and Pixel phones only use on-screen navigation buttons), Android manufacturers, especially Samsung, are slow to move in this direction. For example, Samsung only started to remove the hardware buttons in Galaxy S8 and S8+ in 2017.
For new smartphone users and old people, the navigation buttons (hardware or on-screen) are very useful and intuitive.
But for experienced users and younger generations, gestures can be more productive.
In Android 9, Google decided to add navigation gestures to partially replace the on-screen navigation buttons.
Of course, the Android Pie navigation gesture is not a complete replacement to the old navigation buttons because:
- Android Pie navigation gestures still need the home button. The back button will also appear automatically whenever necessary.
- Android manufacturers can always customize the gestures, or even disable them and use the old 3 navigation buttons.
In the future Android releases (e.g., Android Q), very likely, Google will strengthen and navigation gestures. In fact, in Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, the old navigation buttons were disabled, and owners have to use the Android Pie navigation gestures.
Android Pie navigation gestures are all based on the home button. Here is the list of supported gestures:
- Swipe upwards from the home button to see recent apps. This is equivalent to tapping the Recent/overview button in the old 3-button system.
- Swipe right from the home button to switch to the previous app. In the old 3-button system, you need to get this in two steps: tap the Recent/Overview button, then tap the icon in the overview screen.
- Swipe right from the home button and hold to scroll between recent apps. After swiping from the home button to the right side, if you do not leave your finger from the screen, you can scroll recent apps. Once you find the desired app, you can leave your finger from the screen to open this app.
- Long swipe (or swipe twice) upwards from the home button to access apps screen (app drawer).
Some navigation gestures do not change in Android Pie:
- Tap (press) the back button (if appears) to return to the previous screen within the app, or exit to the home screen. This is not new.
- Press the home button to return to the home screen.
- Press and hold the home button to open Google Assistant.
The new Android Pie navigation gestures come together with the new horizontal overview screen and new multi-window features.
If you get used to the new gestures, you will be very likely more productive with Android Pie.
Please note, in Android Pie, overview selection was implemented in the overview screen as explained in this guide.
If you updated your phone to Android Pie, by default, the navigation gestures are disabled. You need to enable them.
If your phone comes with Android Pie, very likely, the navigation gestures were enabled by default.
However, some Android manufacturer may customize the navigation gestures. In this case, you need to check the user manual of these phones.
In this guide, we assume you are using stock Android, e.g., Android One phones or Pixel phones.
In the Settings, tap system as shown below.
In the System settings page, tap Gestures as shown above.
In the Gestures settings page, tap Swipe up on Home button as shown below.
Now, you can notice the change in the navigation buttons.
Before enabling the Swipe up on the home button, the old 3 navigation buttons are used.
After enabling the navigation gestures, as shown in the screenshot below, the new elongated Home button is used. The Overview (Recents) button disappear.
The back button also changes to a new and simplified one. One the Android Pir navigational gestures are enabled, the back button appears only if it is needed.
As shown in the screenshot above, after enabling the gestures, you can now swipe up from the home button to access the recent app list.
Android is different from iOS. There is only one iOS (for each version). But for Android, all hardware manufacturers can customize it and offer their flavors of Android.
Android Pie navigation gestures can be easily customized or modified by the manufacturers.
If you updated your phone to Android Pie, by default, the navigation gestures were disabled. You need to enable it as mentioned above.
But some vendors may disable the navigation gestures in Android Pie update.
For example, Motorola disabled the navigation gestures in Android Pie update for Moto X4 phones except for Android One version of Moto X4. So, if you Moto X4 is the Android One edition, then you have the option to enable navigation gesture after updating to Android Pie. If your Moto X4 is a retail edition (e.g., from Amazon), then the navigation gestures were simply disabled.
Some Android vendors may modify the navigation gestures. For example, in Android Pie update for Galaxy S9, Samsung only allows you to swipe upwards from 3 locations, instead of swiping from the home button.
So, it depends on the phone manufacturers if you updated the phone to Android Pie. If your phone was released with Android Pie, the navigation gestures should be always there.
If you are using a Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, you have to use the navigation gestures. There is no option for you to revert back to old-style 3 navigation buttons.
For example, as shown in the screenshot below, in the gesture settings on a Pixel 3 (or Pixel 3 XL), the entry of “Swipe up on Home button” does not exist at all.
Google did it on purpose. They do not want to use the navigation buttons.
Please note, using a new launcher in Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL will NOT solve the issue.
If you have any questions regarding the Android Pie navigation gestures, please let us know in the comment box below.
For questions on Android Pie (Android 9), please check Android Pie guides page.
For questions on Android Oreo (Android 8.0 and 8.1), please check Android Oreo guides page.
For questions on Android Nougat (Android 7.0 and 7.1), please check Android Nougat guides page.
For questions on Android Marshmallow (Android 6.0), please check Android Marshmallow guide page.
For questions on Android Lollipop (Android 5.0 and 5.1), please check Android Lollipop guide page.
For other Android questions or problems, please check the Android 101 page.
Please note, this is an owner-help-owner community. If you need official technical support or have warranty/sales related questions, please contact the vendor directly.
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