When the last beta of Android Q arrived earlier this week, it came with a big change: updated motion navigation. This has not worked so well with many members of the Android community, but with the final release of Q just a few weeks later, Google has told them it will stay that way – and what's more, people will like it.
With the old three-button navigation system you can use the left button to browse through open apps, the middle button returns you to the start screen and you go back with the right button.
After upgrading to Android Q, swipe from the left or right edge of the screen to go back and swipe from bottom to top to return to the home screen. Swipe up and hold to access open apps.
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The most important complaint concerns the new return gesture, which causes problems for apps that already use that gesture for tasks such as opening menus.
Developers can choose to completely deactivate the return gesture, or only for a part of the screen if it hinders too much. For example, if users need to be able to swipe left and right to navigate through a gallery, the developer can disable the gesture for that portion of the screen.
This change has been poorly received on two fronts: first from users who generally do not like change and need to learn a new system, and second from developers, who are now being forced to rework their apps in preparation for the upcoming release of Android Q.
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As The Verge reports, Google has responded to these complaints with a message on the Android developer blog that discusses the thinking behind the new navigation, admitted that it has not been completely seamless and has explained why it decided to continue.
The company says it has decided to focus on gestures because they can be faster and feel more natural, making them less likely to be accidentally triggered and it means that apps don't have navigation buttons from the operating system that are hiding their interfaces.
However, it also acknowledges that they do not work for every user, are getting used to and can disrupt existing app interfaces – all the problems caused by beta testers.
It says it decided to continue because the gestures work well within reachable areas for both thumbs. Tapping the back button takes a little awkward bending and is much less comfortable than sweeping from the edge of the screen. During the testing it appeared that the new gestures worked much better ergonomically and made navigation with one hand noticeably faster.
The home message: it can take a few days (Google suggests a maximum of three), but once you get used to the new navigation, your life becomes easier. Developers will just have to work with the new standard, but Google has published a new guide explaining how to do this. Have fun swiping (eventually).
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