How to enable the new gesture system in Android 10

Android 10 gesture navigation
Android 10 gesture navigation (Image credit: Android Central)

Google has, once again, changed its navigation system. Android 10 introduces an entirely gesture-based navigation that's different from what came with Android 9 Pie, but it isn't actually turned on by default. If you want to give the new system a try and get prepared for the future of Android navigation, you have to go enable it. Thankfully, it takes only a moment.

How to turn on Android 10 gesture navigation

  1. Go into Settings, scroll down and tap on System.
  2. Tap on Gestures.
  3. Tap System navigation.

  1. After a brief pause, the navigation will change at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Swipe up in the center of the bottom of the screen to go to the home screen.

You can always go back to the Android 9 Pie-style two-button gesture navigation by returning to the same settings. And in Android 10, at least, you can even choose the legacy three-button navigation system.

How to use Android 10 gestures

Once you enable the gesture navigation, you'll realize that it isn't particularly intuitive — or, at least, it's dramatically different than any other Android phone. Here are the basics.

  • To go home, you can always swipe up in the center of the bottom of the screen. If your phone is in landscape, that means you're swiping up on the long edge that is now the "bottom" of the phone.
  • To multitask, swipe up shortly and hold your finger on the screen for a moment — this will open up a familiar horizontal scrolling card interface for apps. You can swipe up on the suggested apps at the bottom of the screen to launch the full app drawer.
  • To quickly switch apps, do the same short swipe up and hold, but combine it with sliding your finger either left or right to the edge of the screen. You'll move one app forward or backward in your list of recently-used apps, just like quickly swiping on the home button in Pie or double-tapping the recents button in previous versions of Android.
  • Yes, the back gesture is going to interfere with apps that use a slide-in drawer, as the gesture takes priority over any specific app interface. App developers are being encouraged to introduce exclusion zones in their apps where an edge gesture will be preferred over the system-level back gesture, but that will take some time.
Andrew Martonik

Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.