Android Q Beta 5 launches with gesture improvements, tweaks to third-party launchers

What you need to know

  • Android Q Beta 5 is now rolling out to devices in the Android Q Beta Program.
  • There's a new Assistant gesture and a peek behavior for apps with a navigation drawer.
  • When using a third-party launcher, the old three-button navigation will be enabled.

Right on schedule, Google has launched the next version of the Android Q beta — specifically, Beta 5. This is the second-to-last beta Google will release before the final build launches later in Q3, but despite being so late into the beta program, there are a few significant user-facing changes that are definitely worth talking about.

Once again, Google's tweaking its gesture navigation system. Beta 3's introduction of a fully-gestural system came with a couple of pain points, the biggest of which being that the back gesture conflicts with in-app navigation menus. To counter this, Beta 5 adds a peek behavior.

For apps using a navigation drawer, we've added a peek behavior when users have grabbed the drawer to indicate that a swipe will bring in the navigation drawer. This works for all versions of DrawerLayout, with DrawerLayout 1.1.0-alpha02 optimized for the best experience.

On that same note, there's also a new way of invoking the Google Assistant. Since there's no home button to hold down anymore, the Assistant is now accessed by swiping from either corner of the screen. To help you out, Google's added "handles" as a visual indicator and notes that it's "continuing to tune" this implementation.

The last big change has to do with third-party launchers. Gestures haven't played well with these ever since they were introduced in Android Pie, and starting with the next release in Beta 6, Google will replace the gesture navigation with the old three-button nav whenever a third-party launcher is being used. Per Google:

We'll address the remaining issues in a post-launch update so those users can switch to gestural navigation. We'll be working with our device-maker partners to include with their devices shipping or updating to Android Q.

Users will eventually have the option to use gesture navigation with third-party launchers on Android Q, but with Beta 6 and at launch, you'll be stuck with the three-button system.

If you have a phone that's already enrolled in the Android Q Beta Program, you should receive an over-the-air update to download and install Beta 5. If not, you can follow our tips on how to enlist your device in the beta.

Android Q: Everything you need to know!

Joe Maring

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