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Android Q is getting rid of the back button for a side-swipe gesture

Pixel 3 XL and Pixel 3
Pixel 3 XL and Pixel 3 (Image credit: Android Central)

Google rolled out a new gesture navigation system in Android Pie, and Android Q will see another major shift. The back button is being retired in favor of a new side-swipe gesture that will let you go back by swiping in from either edge of the phone. You'll be able to swipe from any position on either edge, and with phones getting taller, it is a novel way to go back within an app without reaching all the way down for a button.

Of course, this isn't the first time we're seeing this particular gesture-based system. Huawei's EMUI skin has offered the same navigation gestures for some time now, as has Xiaomi and a slate of other Chinese brands. The only problem with this approach is that were you to swipe from the left edge, changes are you'll pull up the sidebar on apps like Gmail, Maps, and most of Google's first-party apps.

According to The Verge, Google is changing its design guidelines so that the first swipe will pull up the menu, with a double swipe allowing you to go back. With Google officially making the switch, the feature will be rolling out to hundreds of millions of phones once Android Q rolls around later in the year.

What are your thoughts on Google getting rid of the back button with Android Q?

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

13 Comments
  • "...Google is changing its design guidelines so that the first swipe will pull up the menu, with a double swipe allowing you to go back." So we'll have to swipe TWICE to go back? That is going to get very cumbersome very fast. Since Google loves their hamburger menu and associated icon, why not keep the overflow menu button as a BUTTON and have the swipe back as a SWIPE?
  • I think they also said that you can swipe from either side to go back. So if you've got a hamburger menu (or perhaps full-time) you could swipe from right to left to go back.
  • "...Google is changing its design guidelines so that the first swipe will pull up the menu, with a double swipe allowing you to go back." Yes, no form-over-function here. Certainly swiping twice is functionally better than tapping one button. Wait ..
  • Why not use Motorola's one-button gestures? Those work great; why does Google feel the need to reinvent the wheel, and do a worse job at it in the process?
  • Fine, Google. You think that is a btter way? Cool. How about you ship both and give me the option to choose the right way over the garbage iphone copycat guestures which; by the way; is an inferior solution to a problem we sold ages ago with on screen buttons.
  • I sure hope this will remain optional. I don't want gestures forced on me, if I did I would be using an iphone. If it is optional I have no problem with it since I can stick with the traditional, superior, 3 button on screen nav bar.
  • The single swipe works horribly on Apple iPhones. Why on earth would a double swipe be convenient? This is going to be a mess.
  • Who's idea at Google is this? And it made it through approval levels? And people actually though this was a good idea? Please, just tell me it's an Apple infiltration and will be corrected.
  • Using gestures to navigate on a phone is like using a manual transmission to drive a car. Using an on screen navigation bar/buttons on a phone is like driving a car with an automatic transmission and push button shifting. Google, why do you think using a manual transmission is easier than an automatic? You better make the gesture system totally optional as I mention in my previous post. Google, don't you realize many Apple users don't like the gestures and are planning to come to Android once their iPhone 8's need replacing? I know several people like that. If you force the gesture system you will not only lose Apple users planning to switch, but lose some die hard Android users to Apple. Use your head Google.
  • I think people are forgetting that this is a beta, not the final release...
  • Why don't Google do as Huawei latest EMUI does The upper half of the screen is as normal aka swipe from the right edge does nothing, left edge brings up apps native menu (hamburger menu) The other (lower half) of the screen is swipe from any edge to go back. This is for me the perfect implementation of gestures.
  • Leave the Option about having the Choice to Choose Swipe / Gestures or Buttons and Auto Hideing Navigation Bar. When something is just forced on people, they will resist because they have NO CHOICE! Swiping / Gestures might seem ok to some, but to the rest it doesn't. Also what about people with kids or pets that bump into them and accidentally go BACK? What about people with Medical Conditions? This section of people are also being overlooked. You have analytics that tell you which Apps, features and more are being used as well as which navigation selection is being used and how it's selected. So why not leave the Navigation Bar Buttons alone and let us be also able to have it Automatically Hide like it is in Android OREO.
  • And they are also bringing back the ability to use buttons if you want. So I'm fine with whatever iPhone feature they want you to use as long as we have the option to use the Superior, more intuitive buttons if we want.