Android navigation is a little bit Wild West. Device manufacturers don’t have to adhere to a particular system, and they can change Google’s defaults if they want to. We still see manufacturers adding buttons to the navigation bar, and some were experimenting with gestures long before Google embraced them. Unsurprisingly, this is unlikely to change in Android Q.
Google’s new gesture navigation system, announced last week at Google IO, has proven divisive with some users upset at the appearance of iOS-like gestures while others embrace the change.
It appears that the new gestures won’t be forced on manufacturers though, and they’ll be able to add their own gestures if they want to. In a statement to Android Authority, Google says that they see manufacturers’ own gestures as a “power user” option.
Importantly, the now-“traditional” three-button soft navigation area won’t be going away. It’s an accessibility aid now
Google’s new gestures might be the way forward, but a number of manufacturers (Huawei, Motorola, OnePlus to name a few) have invested considerable time and effort into their gesture navigation and won’t want to see those efforts fall by the wayside.
Google may perhaps be willfully ignoring the likelihood that manufacturers will simply ship with their own gesture navigation as a default option in an effort to differentiate their devices.
What this means is that, just like today, if you pick up an Android Q device in the near future you might find standard soft buttons, customisable soft buttons, Google’s gestures, Google’s new gestures, a manufacturer’s own gestures or some combination of them powering navigation on the device.
Personally, I’ll be sticking with the “traditional” three-button on-screen navigation area.