Android Q's new gesture navigation is a vast improvement over the two-button nav bar introduced in Pie, but it still has quirks that need to be worked out. Particularly, the back gesture interferes with the swipe-to-open option for side menus. Google promised a fix in the form of a peek gesture, but that still feels very unfinished as of Beta 5. However, this release adds a two-finger swipe from the side of the display to open those slide-out navigation menus, and it's as awkward to use as it sounds.

There are two main issues with this gesture which doesn't seem production-ready by any means. First and foremost, it's just awkward to use. For example, the two-finger swipe on the notification bar to fully expand the quick settings tiles requires either both thumbs or two fingers on your other hand, which isn't too frustrating, but this new gesture from the side of the screen requires a lot more stretching or an awkward change of grip. Either way, it ends up being a two-handed operation.

Second, sometimes the two-finger movement triggers the back gesture, potentially throwing you out of the app you're currently using completely. It's impossible to predict when this happens, and when it does happen, the only way to prevent Android from triggering the back command is to carefully move your fingers to their starting point.

Sometimes it works, but mostly it doesn't.

It's debatable whether the gesture even supposed to work as it does in the first place, or if it's related to the official hold-and-peek option that should also allow you to open a drawer despite the back gesture. Thus, the gesture might be thrown out before the next beta hits, and it might end up being just a bug. Either way, it's neither an elegant nor an intuitive solution at all, so I wouldn't miss it if it's gone.

As pointed out by Pino in the comments (thanks!), you don't even need to swipe with two fingers. It's enough if you hold down anywhere on the screen with one finger and then swipe from the left with another. That prevents the back gesture and pulls out the drawer instead. While I could reproduce this in most apps, it didn't work in Telegram for me, so YMMV.

  • Thanks:
  • Larson

Alternate Title: Android Q Beta 5 has a new two-finger swipe gesture to open app drawers that will make you drop your phone.