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OnePlus's Android 10 gestures are far and away better than Google's

Android 10 gestures on the OnePlus 7 Pro
Android 10 gestures on the OnePlus 7 Pro (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

After six months of beta updates, Google released the public build of Android 10 on September 3. While the final version doesn't differ too much from the last couple of betas, it means that everyone with a Pixel device and Essential Phone now has access to the latest build of our favorite mobile OS.

Android 10 brings a lot of goodies to the table, such as a dark mode, improved permission controls, and new theming options, but it also features Google's new fully-gestural navigation. I've already expressed my disliking of this in another editorial, but not too long after Android 10 dropped, OnePlus surprised us with its Open Beta for an Android 10-based version of OxygenOS — including its own take on the new gestures.

I've been playing around with the Android 10 Open Beta on my OnePlus 7 Pro for the last couple of days, but within the first few minutes of using it, it didn't take long for me to realize that OnePlus's tweaked gestures are vastly superior to the ones Google is pushing on users.

The core functionality of the gestures remains the same. You swipe up from the bottom-middle of the screen to go home, swipe up and hold to access the recent apps page, and do a swipe from the left or right edge of the screen to go back. However, OnePlus has slightly reworked that back gesture so that it's not infuriating to perform.

The nature of the new back gesture inherently breaks slide-out hamburger menus in a lot of apps, and Google's solution to this takes shape in a couple of different ways:

  1. Hold your finger on the edge of the screen, wait for the menu to peek out, and then swipe all the way over.
  2. Use two fingers to swipe to bring out a menu.

Both of these are equally bad.

With OnePlus's version of Android 10, the back gesture is performed when you swipe anywhere from about the bottom 80% of the screen's edge. If you swipe over from the top 20%, however, you'll always reveal a slide-out menu if there is one.

I do wish that there was a larger area to trigger slide-out menus as the current implementation requires you to reach up quite far on the display (maybe a 50/50 or 60/40 separation?), but in day-to-day use, it's considerably easier to perform than the two "solutions" Google's come up with.

In addition to the improved back gesture, OnePlus also allows you to use these new gestures with third-party launchers. Why is this a big deal? If you try to use Google's new gestures on Android 10 with a third-party launcher, you'll be reverted to the old three-button navigation system. Google has stated that it intends to add gesture support with third-party launchers at some point in the future, but we have no idea when that'll be.

This isn't an issue at all with Android 10 on the OnePlus 7 Pro. Whether you're using OnePlus's new gestures, the ones that were launched last year, or the old three-button system, you can use all of these with a third-party launcher without any problem.

It's speculated that Google's having this issue as a result of integrating the gestures so much with its Pixel Launcher, but whatever the reason may be, it's a little embarrassing that OnePlus is able to offer this support and Google isn't.

If you recall, this isn't the first time OnePlus has one-upped Google with gestures. Last year, OnePlus introduced a gesture system that closely mirrored the one on the iPhone X, and even in its early stages, worked shockingly well. When Google debuted its awkward two-button system a few months later, it looked like a big step back from what OnePlus was already working with.

This topic sort of opens up a bigger discussion regarding navigation as a whole on Android, specifically with how each OEM seems to have its own take on gestures these days. If we are moving towards a future where part of the decision that goes into buying a new phone requires you to think about what type of navigation you want access to, OnePlus has now proven multiple times that it knows how to create a system that's intuitive and easy-to-use.

As for Google... Well, Google's gonna Google.

Android 10: Everything you need to know!

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

42 Comments
  • Well I use a one Plus 7 Pro but I disagree with you. What Google had done was to implement the Xiaomi gestures and trust me was hard to get used before the Android 10 with Oxygen gestures. Definitely I prefer the Google ones. It is about what you get used at the end
  • I'm in agreement with the author on this one. OnePlus is uncanny in the quality of their OxygenOS improvements to vanilla Android, unlike skins of the other vendors with which I'm familiar, I and see that yet again in their gestures implementation. JMO.
  • There is a third option for opening side menus besides "peaking" and two-finger swiping. If you swipe at a 45 degree angle anywhere from the left side of the screen (except the bottom corner which assistant), it will swipe in the side menu instead of triggering the back gesture. This is my preferred method and works for me every time.
  • Ah, so there aren't only 2 terrible options... There are 3 terrible options!
  • I've tried the 45 degree thing. Doesn't work for me. Perhaps it's cause I'm using Oneplus
  • Thank you so much! I was getting frustrated with the accidental back instead of the menu. This works flawlessly on my pixel 3a.
  • "using OnePlus's new gestures...with a third-party launcher without any problem" Can anyone confirm? On Pie the swipe home animation is janky on ALL third party launchers.
  • Motorola already had it right.
  • I prefer Motorola's gestures myself, they just work. Hit the home button to go home, hold it for assistant. Swipe up to bring up all open apps to switch, swipe close or close all. Swipe back go back, swipe fwd and go fwd or switch between last two apps or bring up app after going home. And just swipe up on the tab for the app draw.
  • MIUI had the exact approach for a long time.
  • As you said the 80/20 was ok because its a day to day use, I would say the same thing about google's 45 degree swipe. Using twitter and slack for work, I need the slide out menu quite alot and the angled method has worked almost flawlessly for me over the past week. To each their own though...I guess its good to have options.
  • It's as stupid as it gets.. if you can reach that far up on the screen, why dont you just tap the menu icon instead
  • This is exactly what I was thinking. Unless you can change the split this is basically an exclusion zone in the same way Google implemented it, and it would be equally as easy to tap the menu icon anyways. I don't see OP's implementation as drastically different than Google's.
  • There are apps that use the "hamburger menu" without actually showing a button... like SyncPro (for Reddit), as an example, using left and right side menu swipes but no physical indication on the right.
  • Because it's not just for hamburger menus. It allows an app to implement their own functionality within the app that reacts to the swipe-in move from both sides of the top 25% of the display.
  • I'm not sure why no tech site has figured out the easy, very consistent way to open the drawer on Android 10 on the Pixel. Instead of touching, waiting, you swipe in an arc. Put your thumb on the side of the screen, like you would for any swipe, and start by swiping upwards, then transition to a right direction, making a quarter arc. As another way to say it, trace the path of the tip of a clock hand from 9 to 12. It feels natural, and works 100% of the time without waiting. Edit: This actually makes it way better than the OnePlus method, since you can easily perform both gestures at any point on the screen. Reaching the top 20% of the screen on a large phone is not possible for most people one handed, so you might as well just tap the button at that point.
  • So one plus invented goodlock?
  • I'm using Huawei p30 pro running the latest EMUI on top of Android 9 Pie. I really prefer their gestures to Google's in Android 10. What's more, it plays very nicely with Nova launcher. I left the Pixel 3xl for the p30 pro and I'm much happier.
  • How can you prefer Huawei's gestures to Google's? They're identical
  • Yeah, plus your gestures are recorded and sent to Xi Jinping.
  • Stupidist comment of the month goes to..... ^^^
  • Having gone from Google's built in gesture navigation on my Pixel 2 XL to that of the OP7 Pro, I have to say that I hate OPs version...
  • I use galaxy s10 and i like a lot gestures simple as 3 swipes from bottom of screen in different places,feels natural and easy to make.
  • As someone who just moved from the iPhone X to the OnePlus 7 Pro just this past weekend, I have to say, that OnePlus nailed gesture's. While I haven't used the Pixel's Android 10 gestures, OxygenOS is really, really smooth and has made the process of moving from iOS to Android so much easier. BTW, LOVE the OnePlus 7 Pro. I haven't used Android since the Note 5 (loved that phone too), but Android has really grown, but this OnePlus for me has changed the game. Snagged it on Swappa for $630 for the 8GB RAM 256GB Storage Blue, that had never been used. It's been a great change.
  • I'm going to disagree with Joe and say that the ultimate fix would just have been to allow people to choose to only have swipe in from the right do the back gesture. I'm using gestures on my Galaxy note 10 in conjunction with the one handed operation app that lets me set a swipe in from the right to the back button. Also swipe down from the right side to bring down notifications. And hamburger menus work perfectly since the left side does nothing.
  • My problem has been the reverse - the darn navigation panels have gotten in the way of having a back swipe gesture. That was something I always enjoyed on all versions of iOS even before full gesture navigation on the iPhone X. I cannot understand who is so into navigation panels over back gestures. The almost universally janky close animation itself has always led me to avoid them if possible. I'd FAR rather hit a hamburger menu and have only a back gesture.
  • I've been using the gestures on 10 since the first beta....I don't get the problem with them. And I am not just being a Google Fanboy....
  • Any Oneplus user a former BB10 user? If so, how does the Oneplus gesture compare to Pixel vs BB10? For someone who really enjoyed the BB10 gestures, which phone would you recommend?
  • Former BB10 user here, typing this on my OnePlus 6T. I've never used a Pixel, as my use case demands I use a phone with higher amounts of RAM. I will say that, as soon as I picked up the OnePlus and started using it, it felt very much like coming home to BB10. It's not exactly the same (it never will be), but if you go the gesture route and add the BlackBerry Hub+ Suite, you can get pretty darn close.
  • Nah...I prefer the Android One stock version of the OS over any fancy but largely useless skins...that includes Google's gestures.
  • Who is surprised? They've been better since pie
  • Well, just 20% on the top is definitely not one hand friendly.
  • Screw gestures period!
  • You have missed 3rd option from Google, just swipe left edge under 45 degress or more anywhere (works all the way from top to bottom of the edge). Also does not matter if you swipe up or down. In my opinion, it's even better then OnePlus, it's single hand gesture even on larger phones.
  • They are not 'far and away better than google's'. The core functionality is the same and google's looks better to me. In fact I prefer swiping diagonally to open the menu since phones are getting way too big to reach the top 20% with one hand. The title should be 'in my opinion' as I think google's are far better.
  • Don't hate on the click-baity headlines...it's all tech blogs have! Googles gestures....like all gesture nav systems is fine once you get used to it. I have no trouble opening side menus using the angles swipes. This is a classic case of "tech blog group think". Just like all the notch hate that pretty much nobody really cares about. Gestures make navigating much more intuitive and frankly I'm just happy that they're here.
  • Don't hate on the click-baity headlines...it's all tech blogs have! Googles gestures....like all gesture nav systems is fine once you get used to it. I have no trouble opening side menus using the angled swipe. This is a classic case of "tech blog group think". Just like all the notch hate that pretty much nobody really cares about IRL. Apps should be moving away from the slide out menu system anyways. This will just move that transition along faster.
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  • @JoeMaring
    The current ratio is 70% for the back gesture and 30% for the drawer. OnePlus is running a Google Survey (forms(dot)gle(slash)JWkYny88iBRk54sE7) about this at the moment. They are asking for user feedback if and how they want it changed. About the diagonal swipe to open the menu. Sadly this doesn't work on OnePlus. It seems they killed it with their implementation.
  • And thus we come to the biggest deficiency in Android. The answer should be "essentially ALL of them." OK, it's a little late to try to get 10 on the HTC Droid Incredible, but any phone manufactured within the last 4 years or so SHOULD be able run 10. Heck, I have Pie running on an HTC One Max, a phone released nearly 6 years ago. No, it's not a daily driver, but it runs the OS just fine. Apple's iOSes are far more universal than Androids are, enabling users to hold their handsets a little longer than the carriers' desired 18-24 month rotation period.
  • Why is Xiaomi's MIUI so underrated. The gestures of OnePlus that is told here was made by xiaomi in MIUI way long back. Oxygen os it seems
  • « the current implementation requires you to reach up quite far on the display » Well in that case, just tap the button...
    I am not convinced that it is a better solution than Google ´s implementation