Android Q Beta 2 landed just earlier today, and with it came a substantial set of changes to the gesture system originally introduced via Android Pie. The new gestures may not free up as much space as Apple's since they still require a navigation bar, but they're definitely iOS-like, allowing you to pull on the "pill" in any direction to switch apps (finally.)

 

 

Gesture navigation on Android 9 Pie (above), and Android Q Beta 2 (below).

 

 

The new gestures entirely replace the old ones, and they're clearly a little bit buggy since the multitasking menu's search bar shows through while they're being used. And while the new gestures add the ability to pull the pill in either direction to switch between apps one at a time, they also take away the ability to use gestures at all from either the home screen or the multitasking menu (shown above).

Switching to a currently running app from the home screen now requires that you pull up to enter the multitasking menu and select it, rather than swiping right for the last-opened app. Similarly, you can't navigate the long horizontal list in the multitasking interface via gesture anymore.

In general, the changes appear to match what XDA spotted hidden in their recent experiments with the Pixel Launcher, and aspects of the animation are reminiscent of a bug we thought we spotted in Android Q Beta 1 when performing a quick circular gesture from the home button — though it only worked in one direction and it appeared to be a mix of animations from the pull up and swipe right, it had a similar error with the search bar showing.

Furthermore, the style of navigation bar can also be changed entirely. XDA discovered a setting (changeable via ADB) that allows for a navigation bar that finally drops the back button — even if it still wastes space with a big black bar. Be careful, though, as the replacement doesn't have full functionality. With it enabled, I can't find a way to return to the home screen, for example.

Lets hope all these gesture tweaks eventually result in a more intuitive and genuinely useful system.

Android Q Beta 3 has just landed, and it introduces some welcome changes to gesture navigation. In addition to getting screen-edge-swipe back gestures, we also have a correction to the way app switching works, letting users directly swipe on the nav bar to access recent apps.