New navigation gestures in Android 10. A hit or miss?

· 2 min read
New navigation gestures in Android 10. A hit or miss?

Google's Android operating system for smartphones has finally got its 10th major version release, bringing a plethora of privacy and security enhancements, a system-wide dark mode and whatnot, and a radical shift from the traditional desert naming scheme. 😢

To cut to the chase though, Android 10's completely "new" gesture-based navigation system is indeed fairly reminiscent of the iPhone X gestures, but that isn't a bad thing. Rather, the best part of having the ability to operate your mobile device with swipes comes from the fact that one-handed usability is much much easier and intuitive.

Imagine needing to hit the famous back button and that it is quite afar from your big fat fingers - it is a hard-to-do exercise, isn't it? Now with a simple swipe from the left and right edges of your screen, you can perform that same task in a breeze. But having that option comes at a big cost - broken access to the well-known hamburger menu. While in most applications almost all the time the hamburger menu is on the left side, there is the left-back action trigger as well, and the efforts the giant company has put into combating this gesture trigger overlap problem has not come to fruition yet. Even playing around with the back gesture sensitivity in the settings is not able to solve it.

Apart from that, the home action is pretty straightforward - a long swipe from the bottom and you're done whereas the overview mode, or the recents panel, as some name it, can be entered with a swipe up and pause action in the middle of the display. There is the added benefit of being able to cycle through all of your recently used applications by swiping left or right on the navigation bar "handle". Triggering the Google Assistant by performing a diagonal swipe from any of the bottom corners is quite an easy task to do as well and it even works on the lock screen which came as a huge surprise to me. But I like it though.

This year Google have done an almost fantastic job with their take on a fully-gesture-based navigation system that made its debut with Android 10. Sadly, the back-swipe issue overlapping with the way we are accustomed to accessing the hamburger menu in a multitude of applications from the Play Store is a huge setback. Perhaps, an option to switch off the back gesture from the left side can be a fine solution. Another rather big problem appears to be that support for third-party launchers at the moment is non-existent, so we are all stuck with the boring Pixel Launcher in case we want all of the gesture stuff. At least they promised that a fix is going to come shortly after. So, hey, we all have to sit tight and wait.

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