Android Q may end up being even more similar to iOS than originally anticipated, as suggested be the newly confirmed existence of a secret test Google already appears to be running inside the first public build of its next operating system version.
A modification of the Pixel Launcher APK pre-loaded onto the premier Android Q build allows for an entirely new set of gestures to be accessed. As initially discovered by independent developer going by the online handle of “paphonb,” the same one responsible for the most stable rootless ports of the Pixel Launcher since the first generation of Google’s latest Android flagship series, the modification in questions enables a new set of developer options, though not in the system Settings up but the preferences of the launcher itself.
From there, you can proceed to enable new experimental flags under an option called “QUICKSTEP,” which appears to be the name of Google’s latest series of gestures. Doing so changes the behavior of some gestures introduced with Android 9 Pie and adds a number of entirely new ones.
Everything QUICKSTEP does (differently)
The only expected change comes in the form of a new Home shortcut that can be activated by swiping up on the system pill icon. While the same behavior was already sighted in some previous Android builds, even though it wasn’t functional in most of them, one novelty on this front comes in the form of a new animated transition that can be seen in the video above, along with other changes brought by QUICKSTEP.
If you swipe up on the pill but don’t release your finger, you’ll end up in the Recent Apps menu under the new set of rules. This method of accessing the said interface may be slightly slower than the one used by Android 9 Pie, yet it also streamlines several other options and makes room for extra gestures.
Furthermore, swiping on the navigation bar to the left now replaces the current contents of your screen with your last used app. This particular gesture is comparably swift to the one that precedes it but is still being worked on, as suggested by its incomplete animation. A right-headed swipe on the pill will also change your tasks, but do so in a more seamless manner thanks to a new, smoother animation.
The navigation bar also supports swipes facing up, which will leave you with an open app drawer and won’t activate any other elements of the OS. The current version of the behavior only works without any apps open, i.e. with the Pixel Launcher running in the foreground. Perhaps most importantly, swiping down anywhere on the Home screen while inside the launcher now brings down the notification shade, which is a feature the likes of Samsung and Huawei have been offering for many years now.
In other words, assuming most — if not all — of the new gestures survive this testing phase, Android will become even more like Apple’s iOS with its Q iteration but in this particular instance (unlike with say, notch support), that’s more or less a universally good thing.
The fact that Google is reworking gestures as part of the incoming Android Q update is no secret, the company openly identified this aspect of its OS as something in need of improvement, stating that’s exactly what it plans to ensure throughout 2019. Besides new additions to this control scheme, the Mountain View, California-based Internet giant may also get rid of some previously debuted ones, primarily due to redundancy reasons.
Android Q is scheduled for five more beta builds before hitting the stable channel in the third quarter of the year, Google said last week.