Android Q Beta 3 introduced a new iPhone-esque navigation bar with back gestures at the left and right edges of a phone‘s display. While this redesign of Android's most fundamental feature will take some time to get used to, one question was left open from the beginning: How to invoke Google Assistant on devices that don't have the Pixel's squeeze option? Well, it turns out there's a rather hidden gesture for that.

We've received word from our tipster Zachary who first found out how it's done. You need to swipe diagonally from the right or left bottom corner of the display and hold until the Assistant shows up. (Make sure you're really starting in the corner if at first you don't succeed). There currently isn't any UI that helps you find this obscure gesture and it appears to be hard to invoke consistently, so hopefully, Google makes it more discoverable before the stable release of Q. However, the Assistant has had its own button right on the home and multitasking screen for a long time, so it's not like it's completely hidden away now.

This leaves us with five distinct options to start the Assistant now:

  • Squeeze the Pixel 2, 3, or 3a.
  • Shout "Hey Google" or "OK Google" at the phone.
  • Install the Google Assistant shortcut app from the Play Store.
  • Swipe from either bottom corner of the screen.
  • Touch the Assistant icon on the Pixel's search widget on the home screen or multitasking view.

Google really wants to make sure we find a comfortable way to talk to its AI.

Another bug related to the new system navigation shows up when you watch videos on YouTube, Netflix, and other apps that support PiP. Usually, when you exit them, content continues to play in a small floating window. However, if you exit these apps using gestures, playback will stop completely. A tipster tells us that you can only enter PiP on YouTube if you open a notification. Since I don't have YouTube Red Premium, I can't test this for myself. For me, Netflix completely breaks the Android UI when I try to open a notification while watching a movie, so YMMV.

The issue with YouTube's picture-in-picture not working with the new fully gestural navigation system has been fixed in Beta 4, and exiting YouTube via gestures no longer stops playback. The overlay for picture-in-picture opens successfully (assuming you have YouTube Premium).

Keep in mind that this is a beta OS, so all of these problems and quirks will hopefully be ironed out by the time we see the stable release.

XDA Developer's Mishaal Rahman dug into the underlying code and found some interesting integers:

This shows that the swipe-up gesture for Assistant is intended and likely here to stay. Google probably just didn't have enough time to implement a how-to yet. However, the gesture is still very wonky and currently also works if you just swipe right up along the side of the screen and hold, so there's no need for a 30 degrees movement towards the middle.

  • Thanks:
  • Zachary,
  • Binyamin