The fifth beta version of Android Q will arrive soon and with it will come a fix for an issue related to the swipe back gesture.
Technically, this is less of an issue and more of a conflict as the gesture itself has the potential to impact on the way many apps utilize a navigation drawer. Basically, when swiping from the outside in on Android Q, the gesture navigation software interprets this as a back gesture and sends the user back one space. For many apps, this is also the same way in which the navigation drawer within the app is accessed.
To overcome this conflict, Googler, Chris Banes announced today in a tweet that a new “peeking” feature will be introduced to Android Q. This feature will allow the user to hold down on the edge for a short period to instruct the OS that they want to access the navigation drawer. The system will then interpret the following swipe in relation to the navigation drawer.
Put simply, to go back using gestures will involve the same swiping gesture but a brief pause when contact is made with the display before swiping will activate the navigation drawer. It is a subtle change and no doubt one which will take a little getting used to by Android mobile users, but a necessary one to avoid more wide-scale issues for developers having to compensate for their swipe action. Furthermore, it’s better solution than the previous suggestion that it would require two back swipes to go back when in an app - one to access the navigation drawer and a second to actually go back.
For those unaware, gestures are a really big part of Android Q. While Q was not where gestures were introduced to Android, it is where Google made it abundantly clear that this is the direction it would prefer Android to go in from now on. For example, although the Google Pixel 3 and 3 XL were released on Android 9 Pie, and although Pie supported button navigation, Google initially opted to forbid the latest Pixel phones from using buttons for navigation and therefore forced those device owners to the new navigation system.
This was only a short-lived forcing however, as when the third beta of Android Q was released, Google reintroduced button navigation, including the “Classic” three-button style. As a result, Pixel 3 and 3 XL owners who upgraded to Android Q as part of the beta were able to head into the settings and choose whether they wanted to make use of the “fully gestural navigation” or not.
As this is also a part of Android Q, the same choice is afforded to Android Q users in general, irrespective of which device they are running the new version of Android on.
Banes also announced another change with the next beta of Android Q although this one is firmly aimed at developers as it is to do with the degree to which apps can restrict the gesture when active. Before this could be completely overridden, while with Android Q beta 5 there will be a minimum limit that cannot.
It is still unclear when Android Q beta 5 will become available although it is expected to arrive soon enough. Especially considering the last few betas have arrived in the opening week of the month - Android Q beta 4 was released on June 5.