OnePlus actually improved Google’s gestures in its version of Android 10, and made it better than what Google has on the Pixel 3. And I know this from using both the Pixel 3 and OnePlus 7T side-by-side. How could OnePlus have possibly taken Google’s gestures and made them better than what they had? Well it’s simple. Add a few tweaks here and there, and they improve infinitely.
Making the back gesture less annoying with slide-out menus
One of the main issues with Google’s gestures is the fact that you need to swipe in from the left or right side to go back. Sounds pretty good, and like a good idea right? Well it is, until you realize that most apps use a slide-out drawer for the menu on the left side. Which Google told app developers to use.
That means that when you trying to swipe to get into that menu, you may end up going “back” instead. Meaning that you need to hit the icon at the top left corner of the screen to open that menu. Definitely not user friendly.
Google did make it so that you can still swipe in to get to that menu though. But again, it’s not user-friendly. You can use two fingers to swipe in, which will bring up the menu versus going back. It’s not great at all, to be honest. And it forces a lot of people to just go back to using the three-button layout.
The change that OnePlus made here was making it so that the back gesture only worked on the bottom two-thirds of the display. The top-third would swipe open the menu. It doesn’t sound like a lot on paper, but when you are actually using it, it makes a lot of sense and makes it a lot more usable.
Now that change does not make this perfect, by any stretch of the imagination, but it does make it easier to use than what Google did. You’re still going to need to reach pretty far up on the screen to open up that menu. But it is at least possible, without touching the very top of the screen.
OnePlus has also added a small animation when you are using the back gesture, that shows you that you’re about to go back. So if that’s not what you want to do, you can slowly slide your finger back to where it was and stay on that page or in that app.
It’s the little things that are really making a difference with the gestures on the OnePlus 7T.
It removed that annoying and useless line at the bottom of the screen
For some reason (one we don’t know), Google wants to keep something at the bottom of the screen for its gestures. When it first introduced gestures last year on Android Pie, it kept a button that looked like a “pill” as well as a back button. Which sort of negated the whole purpose of gestures, since you were still using screen real estate. Gestures are meant to make it easier to navigate and give you a full screen experience.
With the new (and slightly better gestures) on Android 10, Google ditched the Pill, and now has a line at the bottom. Which just looks stupid, and really serves no purpose.
On the OnePlus 7T, OnePlus gave everyone the option to remove that line. So there’s now nothing at the bottom of the screen, and it gives you more screen real estate.
It also makes it look a whole lot cleaner, which is definitely a nice thing here.
Swiping between apps is still pretty simple, just a quick flick to get to the previously used app. Or you can swipe up and hold to view all of your open apps. Now some have said that they’ve had trouble with this gesture, but we have not had any issues at all during our time with the OnePlus 7T.
Don’t forget, these gestures now work with third-party launchers
This is perhaps the most important change that OnePlus made with Google’s gestures.
It works with third-party launchers.
It’s something so simple, yet Google couldn’t get it to work before shipping Android 10.
With the OnePlus 7 and 7T series, you can use a third-party launcher with the gestures that are built into Android 10. That means that if you like the gestures but want to use Nova Launcher, or Action Launcher, you can do so. Without having to revert back to the three-button layout that is also available on the device.
It’s a decision that’s so puzzling, on Google’s part. But to be fair, Google did say that it was going to be making third-party launchers compatible in a future update. However, we have no clue when that future update is going to come. Or if it will come.
Removing its gestures in favor of Android 10’s is puzzling
Despite improving the Android 10 gestures, the OnePlus 7T ditches OnePlus’ own gestures in favor of Google’s. This is only happening on the OnePlus 7T so far, as the OnePlus 7 Pro which has Android 10, does still offer all three options: OnePlus gestures, Google’s gestures and the traditional three-button layout.
So it’s a bit puzzling why OnePlus is deciding to ditch its own gestures right now.
Especially seeing as OnePlus’ own gestures were the best in the business. Many outlets and OnePlus smartphone owners have said that these gestures were the best out there. And for OnePlus to simply just get rid of them on the OnePlus 7T doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Though, if history serves us right, OnePlus might bring them back in a software update if enough people complain.
However, there is also the flip side of Google’s requirements. While the requirements that Google has for its partners to use Android and Google Mobile Services are hidden and not available to the public, there are a few requirements that we are well aware of. Like having to put Google Play Store on the home screen, etc. It’s possible that Google wants its partners to only use its gestures or the three-button layout. Though we don’t know that for sure.
It would make plenty of sense though, seeing as having OnePlus, Google gestures and the three-button layout could get very confusing, very quickly. But this is all just speculation at this point.
OnePlus made a better Pixel than Google
I’ve seen this title on a few sites now, since the OnePlus 7T was announced last week, and I somewhat agree. OnePlus took everything that needed to be fixed on the OnePlus 7 series and did it with the 7T. Essentially making a better Pixel than Google.
That is, until you look at the camera.
It’s not just the gestures. OnePlus outshines the Pixel 3 (since the Pixel 4 isn’t out yet), in almost every area. Specs, price, display, hardware, you name it. The only thing missing is the camera. Which, after a couple software updates, that might not be an issue anymore.
Maybe Google will release Android 10.1 with the Pixel 4 later this month. Though it’s unlikely since it hasn’t done any .1 or even .0.1 updates in a few years now. Which could improve the gestures. But we do know that Google is really not sure what it wants to do with gestures yet. Seeing as it completely scrapped its gestures twice before rolling out Android 10 last month.
That seems to be pretty popular with Google as of late, not really knowing what it wants to do with something. Another product that falls into that category would be wearables. Google really has no idea what it wants to do with Wear OS right now.
I’m not a big fan of gestures. Because of my job, I’ve had the opportunity to use just about every OEM’s gestures that have come out in the past few years. And it was between Xiaomi and OnePlus for the best gestures. But I still often preferred using a three-button layout. It’s something I had used for many years, so the muscle memory was there, and it made it easier to switch back and forth between multiple phones.
But Xiaomi and OnePlus have done wonders with gestures on its smartphones recently and the gestures on the OnePlus 7T are really good. And I mean really good. Even though OnePlus’ own gestures are no longer there, they made Google’s gestures usable. Which is something OnePlus shouldn’t have needed to do, but alas, it was done.
OnePlus, even over a year ago, with its first round of gestures, was far ahead of Google. So it’s no surprise to see that OnePlus improved Google’s gestures here and made them much better. Now if Google could just take the hints from OnePlus and include these changes into the Pixel 4.
If you’ve been using a Pixel or anything running Android 10, and thought that the gestures that Google shipped with it were complete garbage, I’d say give the OnePlus 7T a try. They aren’t big changes, fundamentally, but do make a huge difference.