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.
Background of Android Pie navigation 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.
What are 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.