Google rolled out the third beta for Android Q this week at I/O. One of the bigger changes in this third beta are the new gestures. While Google would like its partners to use these gestures, so that everyone gets a unified experience, the company has said that it is not forcing companies to use its gestures.
This is great news, considering Google's gestures in Android Q still lag behind the gestures from other manufacturers like Xiaomi, Huawei and OnePlus. Google's gestures are not great (but getting better). However, not everyone will like the same set of gestures on their phones. So being able to have a choice among the gestures that you want to use, is definitely a good thing.
If you do buy or already have, a Pixel, then you're going to be stuck with Google's gestures, unfortunately. But, as we've seen in Android Q Beta 3, you will be able to go back to the pill or the three button navigation that Google has available. So there are some other choices available.
The Android team, speaking at Google I/O this week, said that for developers, creating gestures can be a bit difficult. For one, which gesture is going to be the back button? This is an issue that even Google itself had last year with Android Pie. When it introduced gestures, it still had an actual back button on the left. Google says that users use the back button about 120 times a day (though that number seems kind of low to us). So it's an important gesture to have on Android and one that will be used a lot.
Other Android OEMs have done interesting things with the back button. Having you swipe from the left or right edge of your phone, like Xiaomi does, to go back. But that also gets in the way of swiping open the hamburger menu in most apps. That's another thing that Google has to think about when designing these gestures.
Another issue would be getting to the Google Assistant. When Google had the three button layout, you would just press and hold the Google Assistant, but with gestures now, there is no home button. If you have a Pixel of course, you could simply squeeze your phone, but not everyone has a Pixel anyways. These are just some of the many issues that Google and its partners are running into, when thinking about gestures.
Samsung also recently introduced gestures in its One UI software, which has been getting plenty of praise. As it is very similar to using the three button navigation, but instead of pressing these buttons, you swipe up. So you're getting more screen real estate, and it's still easy to use. Two things that are pretty important to most people.
The gestures in Android Q Beta 3 are much better than what Android Pie shipped with. But it's likely going to be changed a bit before Android Q actually launches this summer, and a bit more polished added. It'll be interesting to see what Google does with them over the next few months.