Monday, 21 October, 2019

Google explains why it’s killing on-screen back button with Android Q

Google releases final Android Q Beta ahead of imminent release Android Q has a dark mode. Everything else is details
Emmett Howard | 10 August, 2019, 19:22

The move comes as part of Google's attempt to standardize gestures on Android phones, which it says will ensure "a consistent user" experience and for app developer as well. Gestures are also a more ergonomic way to go around a device. So far, these gestures have invited a lot of praise as well as criticism from users, essentially dividing the community based on user preference. The whole premise of the new system is to allow more of the display to be used by apps to create a "more immersive experience".

Developers can choose to deactivate the back gesture entirely, or just for a section of the screen if it interferes too much. However, since these gestures are not suited for everyone, especially for those with limited dexterity and mobility, the gestures will co-exist alongside an option to enable the three-button navigation bar for software buttons.

The Final Android Q preview is here.

As The Verge reports, Google has responded to these complaints with a post on the Android developer blog discussing the thinking behind the new navigation, admitting that it hasn't been entirely seamless, and explaining why it made a decision to go ahead with it anyway. The developer can use these to prepare their apps for the final Android Q rollout. That was on top of a tweak in the Android Q beta 5 release, which introduced a "peeking" element for drawer behavior to help users distinguish between in-app actions and actions for the homescreen.

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What about you? Have you tried the new gestures? The extra screen space also means that app developers have to adjust for the newer screen ratios.

Google's study showed that on average users performed tasks involving Home and Back more quickly with navigation gestures than most other models, and it was even faster than with the buttons system. No need for buttons because gestures will be enough. Seemingly small user interface (UI) changes are hard, but they become big when they affect over a billion people who rely on their Android phones to communicate and do business online.

The take-home message: it might take a few days (Google suggests up to three), but once you're used to the new navigation, your life will be easier. Users struggled with patterns like swiping right or left on a carousel and triggering Back, notes the blog. It claimed majority of users didn't want to revert to 3-button navigation system.

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