Android Q is bringing in a lot of changes but it might be famous or infamous for one thing: shifting Android to a fully gestural navigation system. Forget the insinuation that this was blatantly copied from Apple. Many Android users are complaining about how the new Back gesture from the side edges conflict with Android’s own long-held UI standards. Google developers are not coming out to show the numbers that say that it’s actually what users want.
Just as Google developers claimed, gestures are becoming more common in smartphones, especially as their screens take over the entire face of the device. Google now wants to standardize those gestures since different OEMs have all gone their separate ways. The problems is that Android Q’s new back geeture, which is initiated by a swipe originating from the side edges of the phone, conflicts with Google’s own standard for swiping open the navigation drawer at the side.
Google admits that is indeed the case but tries to make an appeal to both developers and users with numbers that not only show how popular and more useful the side gesture is but also that the side swipe gesture isn’t actually that used. According to their numbers, only 3 to 7% of users actually swipe from the side to open the navigation drawer. The rest simply tap on the hamburger menu.
As for the back gesture, Google’s research proves that, after an initial adjustment period, users who tested the new system didn’t want to go back to the old button-based navigation system. They have no qualms that there will be a period of adjustment for users and that, in some cases, the old way is seen to be more ergonomic. Google, however, believes that the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages.
That said, Google isn’t abandoning developers to their own. It is presenting the steps that developers need to take to adopt to the new gesture-based navigation system as well as the tools to assist with that. Google is hoping that Android Q will standardize that gesture system but that will still depend on whether Android OEMs will play ball.