3-Button Navigation Makes A Surprise Return In Android Q Beta 3

If you are looking for an additional reason to upgrade your Google Pixel 3 to the latest beta version of Android Q (besides a system-wide dark mode), then the navigation bar might be the one.

Earlier today, Google released the third Android Q beta preview and with that version comes a return of three-button navigation.

This is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. The first of which is Google’s preference of gestures in Android Q. It is this very preference that saw Android Q move away from what’s now referred to as the “classic” Android navigation in favor of the “pill” and its related gestures.

In fact, this latest version of Android Q also comes with an increase in gesture support further highlighting that Google preference. Therefore, the inclusion of the classic mode once again is contradictory to where Google wants to take Android going forward.

The other noteworthy part of this, is this was even more of an issue for owners of the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL smartphones. As those phones effectively launched the new gesture look and feel.

Even though they launched on Android 9 Pie, Google did not offer the option of using buttons over gestures even though that is an option for pretty much any other phone running on Pie. In Google's eyes, the Pixel 3 represented the future.

This not only again confirms Google’s commitment to gestures, but also highlights once again how this is a bit of a stepping back on those Google and Android principles.

The problem with all of this for Google was a lot of users were unhappy with this directional change and still preferred to use the classic mode where they had button access to "back," "home" and “all apps,” independently.

This is likely why Google has made this change as it now at least offers users the option to go with the navigation style they most prefer - even if, it means less people will use the one Google wants them to use in the first place.

For reference, the two-button navigation option (the pill) is still the default option and so users will need to manually go and set the three-button option in settings to restore the navigation back to its former classic glory.

To do so head to Settings > System > Gestures > System navigation. At which point there will now be three options to choose from: Fully gestural navigation, two-button navigation and three-button navigation.

Of course, it is always worth remembering that just because the classic navigation is back in fashion with this latest beta build, that does not mean it will inevitably be here to stay. This is, after all, a beta version and that means pretty much anything that’s included is subject to final approval by Google before the consumer-ready version of Android Q comes through.

In other words, this could just as easily mean Google will take the option away again in one of the many beta previews that are still in the works.

For now, though, classic navigation is back.

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John Anon

Editor-in-Chief
John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]