Android Q Beta 5 is official and Google will be pushing it out to Pixel devices on the beta program starting today so long as users are enrolled. The focus with this version of the beta software is on gestural navigation, and one of the big tweaks Google has made here is with how users will be able to use gestures to open up Google Assistant.
With Android Q Beta 5 users will be able to swipe on the screen from either corner to access Google Assistant whereas before the main way for accessing it was by long pressing on the home button. Google hasn't given a detailed description of exactly how this will work but likely users will be swiping inward on the screen from the bottom left or bottom right corners since dragging down from the top section of the display opens the notification panel.
This new swipe gesture navigation for accessing Google Assistant will be for inside of apps, and will let developers make full use of the edge to edge screens on phones while still making Assistant easily accessible to users and keeping the visible navigation for the system to a minimum.
This will be a handy change for users who are accustomed to swipe gestures over other methods of accessing apps or features, and making Google Assistant available this way certainly feels like its more fluid and natural than long pressing. It should also allow for a more visually pleasing design.
What's more, is that with a swipe from the corner to access Google Assistant users will no longer be required to swipe up from the bottom of the display to first reveal the navigation bar and pill button for the available long press action, which means accessing Google Assistant when should be slight quicker and more convenient too.
There are other gestural navigation updates in this beta to be aware of in addition to the new swipe gesture. Specifically, Android Q Beta 5 brings in a new peek behavior for applications that utilize the navigation drawer users can access by swiping inward on the display from the left edge of the screen.
With this new peek behavior Google states that its aim was to make it so that users would be alerted to the fact that swiping would open the navigation drawer. Though longtime users of Android may be familiar with the use of these drawers, adding the peek behavior as an indication makes it much more clear for all users what swiping in from the left edge will accomplish and should help avoid any confusion as to the drawer being present within an app.
It'll also fix an issue that users were having in beta 4 when accessing the nav drawer. Android Q Beta 5 also addresses some upcoming changes that Google is planning to make and will introduce with the 6th beta. One issue Google highlights is navigation problems that users have been having when they have a custom launcher installed.
While it mentions that it will be continuing to work on these issues, with beta 6 users with a custom launcher installed will be switched back to three-button navigation by default until it can work out the problems in a post-launch update.
This means that users will either need to stick with the default launcher if they want gesture navigation or keep the custom launcher and deal with the three-button nav, at least until Android Q is fully launched and Google has fixed the problems with gesture navigation through another update.