Android P is gearing up to be a big update for Google’s operating system down to the basic way you navigate the OS which Google creating improvements with a gesture-based system like the one on the iPhone X.
As the rumours portrayed, instead of a familiar three-icon array of on-screen buttons that have been a mainstay on Android phones for years now, Android P borrows a page from Apple’s book and provides a single oblong line at the bottom of the screen that can be used to swipe around the OS. Some things are still the same. As before, you’ll be able to tap to go back to the home, and holding down the home button will still bring up Google Assistant.
Google also adds new gestures that completely replace the old icons. Rather than a right-side square button to access multitasking, you now do a short swipe up bringing you to a redesigned horizontally scrolling list of your open applications along with access to the Google search bar and a couple of suggested apps. The scrolling cards are actually interactive as well. You will have the ability to tap in and select and copy text without ever leaving the scrolling interface. A longer swipe up will take you straight to the app drawer in case you need to find an application that you don’t already have open. Last but not least, you’ll be able to scroll between your applications like the iPhone X by tapping and sliding along the home button, bringing up a new interface that lets you pan over to the apps you want.
The back button isn’t entirely gone. Google is still sticking with a virtual button there although it’ll only appear contextually inside applications, not as a constant global key.
This is perhaps the biggest change Google has ever made for Android navigation which has used the same basic UI since the virtual buttons were introduced back in 2011 as part of Android 3.0 Honeycomb for tablets. Although Google has updated the visual parts of the UI or added functionality, the base design has always been the same: multitasking button on the right, back button on the left, with the all-important home button in the middle.