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Is this Android P's gesture-based navigation bar?

Android P's first developer preview has been out in the wild since early March, and it's offered a nice glimpse into what the future of Google's mobile OS has to offer. Thanks to a screenshot shared on the Android Developers Blog, we might now have our first look at Android P's new navigation bar.

First spotted by 9to5Google, elements like the clock on the left and rounded corners for the pop-up box confirm that the screenshot was taken on a device running Android P. These are things we've seen before, but at the very bottom, we see an all-new navigation bar design.

Instead of the traditional Back, Home, and Recents buttons, there's a pill-shaped icon where the circular Home button usually is and a Back button next to it with the old, un-filled Lollipop/Marshmallow design.

Although nothing's been confirmed, the design of the nav bar suggests that Google may be trying to mimic Apple and introduce a gesture-based navigation system to Android. 9to5Google further reports that swiping up from the bottom brings up the multitasking page and the back button is only revealed when there's something overlayed on the screen that can be dismissed.

Google quickly cropped the screenshot to hide the navigation bar, and to put even more fuel on this fire, the pill icon looks awfully similar to leaks of the Moto X5 and Moto Z3/Z3 Play from earlier this year.

Could this be our first look at Google's new direction for Android's navigation? Perhaps. But on that same note, this could also be nothing more than a mockup that someone added to the screenshot just for the heck of it. Google I/O will begin in just over two weeks, so I suppose we'll learn more then if this turns out to be legit.

What are your thoughts on a gesture-based navigation system for Android?

Android P first impressions: Everything's going to be okay

Joe Maring was a Senior Editor for Android Central between 2017 and 2021. You can reach him on Twitter at @JoeMaring1.

48 Comments
  • This isn't a bad thing to copy. And since Android has back built into it, it will be better compared to Apple's implementation.
  • Agreed! This over the notch any day!
  • They should hire all the software developers that were behind BB10. The best swipe-based OS ever.
  • Hells, yeah! I still believe BB10 with Google support would have been the greatest OS, ever!
  • I prefer Apples swipe right/left to go back/forward better than the back button in Android.
  • I prefer the back button on Android over the swipe to go back on limited, locked down and inferior iOS which Android is far better and superior to that clunky walled garden.
  • This exactly
  • I'm ok since the Moto gestures on the fingerprint reader almost mimics this already
  • I’m more than good with this, I like it a lot.
  • Why "mimic apple" - I'm using Nova launcher to get the gestures I used to have in BlackBerry
  • Been a user of Nova since it first entered Beta, love it.
  • I am intrigued. How close to the BB10 set up were you able to get it? You wouldn't happen to have a screen recorder app to share the setting of how you set it up, would you?
  • Yes, please let it work like WebOS
  • Man they sure had it right. Seems WebOs was so much ahead of its time. How many years later and only now we start to see feature based navigation gestures. And they are not even close to how natively it felt using a palm pre.
  • I'm hoping it's exactly like WebOS. It was so ahead of its time. Just a shame the Pre hardware was so crappy. Btw, I'm pretty sure it's Apple mimicking WebOS. The pill was a touch sensitive button right below the screen on the Pre 2 or round button on the Pre. However, this is a moot point as everyone would benefit from this intuitive gesture user interface. One other thing, let's not forget that Google hired Matias Duarte who led the development of WebOS. Really surprised it took this long to implement these features in Android.
  • Ha Matias Duarte is the reason I made the jump over to Android instead of IOS. But I just don't see his work in the most recent versions of Android, seems they are slowly pushing him more and more the side. ICS was definitely his best creation, and then Jelly Bean.
  • But will my phone ever get it?🤔😳
  • Blame the OEM
  • "Google may be trying to mimic Apple", wait wasn't it BlackBerry that did it first. Oh that's right Apple does everything first.
  • And WebOS did it before BlackBerry......
  • Nobody bothered than and again with BlackBerry BB10. Now that Apple has done it and everyone else follows.
  • swiping up from the bottom brings up the multitasking page.this feature already available right now at Oppo R15 with coloros 5.0
  • Yay Android is yet another step closer to my favorite mobile OS and the one that truly did gesture based navigation first and best the long since deceased webOS.
  • Quite happy with the icons. Change for change sake.
  • Agreed. The nav keys work perfectly well. No reason to change that just to follow apple again
  • It's called options. They will probably have the ability to change it in the settings.
  • At first I wasn't enthusiastic with the idea of gesture navigation but still open to the idea so I downloaded an app that kinda did just that and I actually find it kinda fun and just feels more natural to use.
  • Huawei phones have had the option of using gestures instead of nav keys for the past year or so and they're no replacement for the real thing. It's change for the sake of change yet again.
  • This is the number one reason I can't even consider android anymore. You can argue that apple copies Android, but at least apple puts their own spin on the feature. From the notch to the iphone x hardware to now the home indicator, Google and android manufacturers are so blatant its ridiculous
  • And why does this matter?
    What practical reason can there be for not wanting something just because someone else did it first?
    If you feel it's a crap idea fare enough but to dislike something just because someone did it first is childish.
  • The point is why follow what Apple does? BlackBerry's BB10 didn't follow Apple or Android with the home button. Window's mobile OS went a different route. It's like Android has its navigation stick with it. Stop trying to the same what Apple is doing.
  • Why copy?
    Because they think it's a good idea.
    Why not copy if it's a good idea?
    Apple did the touch screen before any android phone, why copy that?
    As long as unlike iPhones you have a choice then people like me who think it's a crap idea can ignore it.
  • These gestures existed way bef Apple added them with the iPhone X. No one bothered then bec everyone wanted to be the same with the home button functionality. The only reason why it's a good idea "now" is bec Apple has done it. Every manufacturer if not copying Apple's designs, functionality, direction, trying to mimic iOS's look or etc. If Apple never came out with their notch shape design and the webOS swipe gestures the other manufacturers wouldn't have followed. At least Apple goes it's own path /direction and doesn't react so obvious like the other OEM'S do with Apple
  • LG came out with a touchscreen phone first. The more you know.
  • Actually, IBM's Simon beat LG's offering by about 15 years.
  • Well as long as Google's gestures implementation for Android P are better than those of Apple's on the overrated and overpriced iPhone X just like Android being better than iOS then it's all good as Android is now my new favorite Mobile OS.
  • As former Blackberry user, this is great news for me!
  • That's one of the reasons why I'd never go for a Pixel. Google is horribly inconsistent with all their icons. OEM's UIs rarely change the navigational buttons, as most of them try to stay consistent. It's irksome. It's not a problem with a proper theming engine, but it's not like Pixel has one.
    Also, I hate how asymmetrical, and thus ugly, this solution is. Either get rid of both side buttons, leaving one, or don't touch them.
  • I agree. I hate change for changes sake.
    I just work out where everything is and they bloody move it.
    I can't be doing with gestures if every phone is different.
    I change phones regularly so will have to start looking into 3rd party launchers.
  • Funny that's one of the reasons I why I will only buy Pixel, I like the icons (they look pretty consistent to me, and anyway you can get icon packs if you don't like Google's) on the Pixel launcher and how cohesive everything looks and it means I won't have to change too much and the Pixel 2 and 2 XL are the smartest Android phones IMO with nothing that can compete with Google's AI.
  • Oh, sorry, by 'icons' I meant the icons on navigation bar. They change them with almost every major version of Android, which is why I called them out as inconsistent. Like a lot of people is complaining, it's a change for sake of a change. And not every phone has a theming engine that can override the navigation bar.
  • I think it would be a great thing to have, because then we don't have the small targets that we currently have for general navigation on screen.
  • Honestly to on screen keys doesn't look that different, and they don't bother me, I think it's about time the on screens keys got a redesign anyway, I'm sure Google won't mess up with the gesture navigation bar, looking forward to Android P when I get my Pixel 2 XL.
  • The downside is that gesture based navigation gets wonky when you are gaming and sliding your fingers all over the screen. Not that it was good before, but gaming on my iPhone since iOS 11 has gotten worse because too many swipes from the bottom in games pull up the control center.
  • So it takes up the same vertical space as the old nav bar...... What the hell is the point? Gestures are supposed to eliminate or vastly reduce the size of the nav bar..
  • Googles AI comes preinstalled on many Flagship phones. For example the new Galaxies have this featured baked with Google lens support as well, no need to install any app from the play store. A gesture support can be easily applied to any Android phones as long as it does not have a home button.
  • If they do go with gestures, hopefully they will give us an option of using them or using the traditional nav bar. I don't want gestures, period. I just don't know why they want to follow Apple.
  • I hope general nav gestures are optional. Not because "copied Apple," but because I find gesture navigation to be a pain when I'm trying to do something while holding my phone. Actually, what I'd really like is a double-tap or something to lock touch input until the double-tap is repeated, or phone turns off.