Android Q's new hidden back gesture could be an important foundation for something bigger

We've speculated that Google may be shaking up navigation gestures in Android Q to make up for the bland and boring system it revealed with Android Pie. Companies like OnePlus and Xiaomi have used their own gestures for awhile, and their mature offerings made Google's attempt look a little weak. This hidden gesture discovered by XDA member paphonb seems to indicate that Google is experimenting with a new side-scrolling feature to move forward and back. You'll see what I mean if you watch this short video made using the Android Q emulator.

If you thought about how this would potentially break the existing menu fly-out gesture that apps using Google's best practices for Material Design implement, you're not alone. This new feature would need to be implemented in a clever way to allow apps with the "Hamburger menu" to function as designed.

There's a reason these are hidden in the Q beta builds, but I don't think they are there to stay as-is. Breaking the functionality of apps from the Play Store is something Google hates to do, especially when those apps have implemented what Google called best practices just a few months ago. I do think the developers have a grander idea in mind here and this is just a preliminary test to see what gets broken, how bad it breaks, and what needs to be done to fix it; otherwise these gestures wouldn't be hidden behind adb commands.

Something needs to be done to "fix" Android's gestures, and this is where it starts.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

23 Comments
  • Meanwhile 2/3rd of all Android operated phones still haven't gotten the Pie update yet.
  • More than that, I'd think.
  • Less if you're using LG
  • Looks like they just changed their short fat pill shape to a longer and skinnier line like that in Apples OS.
  • Why doesn't Google just take Motorola's gestures and make those the default for Android? I turned off gestures in Pie because they aren't as good as Moto's and, in my opinion, a step backwards from the three-button navigation of older Android versions.
  • Agreed. I recently switched from a Pixel to a Moto and the gestures on the Moto are far superior to Google's implementation.
  • Huawei devices have the best gestures in a mobile phone 😍
  • Quite possible, I've not used it.
  • I've really warmed up to them. Much better than the Pixel's gestures in my opinion.
  • I can't speak for other devices but Huawei's gesture system is pretty much flawless. Swipe in from sides to go back, swipe up from bottom to go home, swipe up and hold for multitasking drawer, swipe up at the bottom near the corner for Assistant and swipe diagonally from bottom corner for One Handed Mode. Think Apple is pretty similar?
  • This is essentially what Samsung has put in place with it's Good Lock app and the One Hand Operation+ application. But in there case they allow for only a certain portion of the side of the screen to be used for the gesture, so you could still theoretically use the Hamburger Menu swipe above the gesture swipe area. I use it now on my Note 9 and love it.
  • Bland and boring? Not really. It doesn't have to be art deco but it just needs to work
  • "taking a clue from MIUI and the iPhone" ...???
    What about the SAME GESTURES that were interested by Palm on webOS in 2010 - SEVEN years before the iPhone X!
    At the time, Steve Jobs said they were 'unintuitive' -at least until Palm went defunct and no one was going to sue Apple... ******* did NOT start using gestures this way, Palm did!
  • As seen in this video with audio done from the Apple 2017 keynote:
    https://youtu.be/gEhkQRP2zDk
  • BlackBerry had them in their BB10 OS. Simple fact it all comes down to what Apple does. Everyone is trying be like Apple. It's even more evident now with Google. How many Android skins have so much iOS inspiration? How many manufacturers did an iPhone X notch design last year and not the Essential's notch design. Another example look how Samsung and Google poked fun at Apple for not having a headphone jack. Google removed it the following year in the Pixel 2 lineup. Samsung kept it much longer but now with it's Fold has the biggest notch, no headphone jack and even now has the vertical camera design and bump along with Huawei doing the same.
  • True but now it's Apple copying Huawei's rounded square camera array from the Mate 20 Pro for the iPhone X1
  • Yup they are. I think they re copying that design bec of to many OEMs with the vertical camera design now. Huawei isn't using that square design in their latest phones so Apple might as well use that design to differentiate themselves from the rest. Looks ugly in the leaks so far but maybe it ll look better in the final release.
  • They all learn from each other. It's only natural that 100+ companies playing around with stuff on Android will experiment with something first, but occasionally Apple will invent something useful as well that gets adopted. It's good that there is this type of competition that benefits us all.
  • And webOS did it so well.
  • Just bring back my one button nav for my moto and I'll be great!
  • Cool. Looks like my old BlackBerry 10 now. Looking forward to the upgrade.
  • Judging by the video above, it's kinda-sorta more like the PlayBook gestures to switch between open apps than BB10. BB10 was so damn intuitive.
  • Here's a thought , why not give us the option to have the old 3 button system in ANY order we want ....
    Put all the gestures you want to but don't do like apple and force feed them to us . Android use to be about options , now it's just trying to be a better iPhone .
    I love my pixel but I'll go back to Samsung if things keep going like there going .