Yes, you read that right. In a move that closely mirrors the way Google handled two-button navigation on the Pixel 3, gestural navigation will be required to use the new Google Assistant on the Pixel 4. Folks who prefer three-button navigation will be stuck with the old, slower Google Assistant according to posted documentation and Google spokespeople. Google representatives didn't indicate to Android Police whether this decision could change in the future.
We've seen timed exclusives for features on Pixel phones in the past, and while the new Google Assistant is Pixel 4-only for now, it's also far more limited than originally thought. If you prefer to use 3-button navigation on the Pixel 4, Google Assistant will need to make a connection to the cloud in order to process any command you ask of it. Folks using the new gestural navigation will find that Google Assistant is wicked fast, and that's because everything is processed directly on the device and doesn't need to make a connection to Google's cloud first.
This comes just after we've learned that the new Google Assistant will both be an English language and U.S. exclusive feature upon launch. That mirrors the limitations put on one of the other major features of the Pixel 4, Soli, which is a hands-free gesture system that will only work in a select number of countries.
Last year when Android 9 Pie was announced, Google debuted its two-button navigation system which was met with heavy criticism. While the Pixel 3 was initially shown to only have this new navigation system, Google spokespeople told many journalists that two-button navigation wouldn't be the only option when the phone launched. That turned out not to be true, and it wasn't until the launch of Android 10 that saw navigation options return to Pixel 3 owners.
Now that two-button navigation is officially dead, Google is seeing fit to usher its new navigation system on users, whether they like it or not, or else they'll simply be missing out on features. Here's hoping that Google decides to abandon this decision in favor of folks who have disabilities and have difficulty using gestural navigation (or folks that just might prefer tried-and-true buttons).
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