Google introduced new navigation gestures in Android Q, and the key point is that the back button is going away, with a side-swipe gesture taking its place. The move obviously led to a lot of confusion, with users left to ponder whether custom gestures from the likes of Samsung, Huawei, and others will be waylaid in favor of Google's new prescribed system.
We now have more clarity on the matter. Allen Huang, Project Manager for Android System UI at Google, spoke to our friends at Android Authority, stated that while Google is "strongly encouraging" OEMs to adopt the new navigation gestures, it will not force them to do so.
To simplify, custom navigation gestures are here to stay, at least for the foreseeable future. From Huang:
We see custom OEM gestures as a power user option. Gesture navigation is a challenge for developers. They need to decide 'Which of my gestures is going to be back?'
People navigate back over 150 times per day. We want to make this simple to learn and understand.
That's a welcome move from Google, because I prefer Samsung's gesture navigation to Google's implementation. Android has been — and will always be — about choice, so it's good to see that Google isn't enforcing OEMs to stick to one particular navigation system. And if you're not sold on the idea of gesture navigation at all, Android Q will still let you select the legacy three-button navigation bar.
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