How to use Android P’s new gesture navigation controls

By now, you know that Google introduced new gesture-based navigation controls on Android P DP2. But after turning them on, they can be a bit confusing. Here are several tricks and tips for using Android P’s new gesture controls.

How to use Android P’s new gesture navigation controls

  • Recents
  • App drawer
  • Scroll through Recents
  • Quickly jump to the last app
  • Home button
  • Split-screen

Launch Recents

Depending on what screen you’re on, you should see the Home button/pill and potentially the back button. The Recents button for bringing up the list of recently opened apps is gone. But don’t worry, you can still see recent apps.

Perform a quick and short swipe upward on the Home button. This will launch a new horizontal recently-used apps menu with full-sized cards.

Check out this article to learn more about the new Recents menu.

App drawer

When you enable the new gesture navigation, Google provides you with the following bit of text:

To switch apps, swipe up on the Home button. Swipe up again to see all apps. Works from any screen. You’ll no longer have an Overview button on the bottom right of your screen.

This can be a little confusing so let me explain it. Basically, after you give the short swipe upward used to launch the Recents menu, you can swipe up again to expose the full app drawer.

In addition to this, from any screen, you can do a really long and quick swipe upward to jump directly into the app drawer, entirely bypassing the Recents menu.

Scroll through Recents

On the I/O stage, Google showed off a scrolling feature that most wouldn’t know about as it isn’t apparent at all. To use it, first launch the Recents menu (See: Launch Recents).

Next, locate the Home button. Press and hold the button and move your finger to the open space to the right. Almost instantly, you will start scrolling through the different cards. Every time it does this, your phone should vibrate.

You can see this feature in action here.

Quickly jump to the last app

In previous versions of Android, you could quickly double tap on the Recents button to switch to the most previously opened app. With the new gesture controls, this functionality is still accessible.

Similar to the scrolling feature within the Recents menu, you will hold down on the Home button and move it to the left. But to quickly jump to your last app, you will need to make this one quick, fluid motion.

When done correctly, you will see the app slide over from the Recents menu and populate your display.

Home button

By this point, you should have noticed that the Home button is no longer a circle and looks more like a pill. But don’t worry, despite everything the button does for gestures, it will still take you back to your homescreen when you tap on it.

This might seem apparent, but it’s something that is important to note as Google has changed the button’s design.


The Recents button also used to have one other use: launching split-screen. Thankfully, this feature is still available, and it can now be found in the Recents menu.

After using the short swipe-up gesture to launch the Recents menu, tap on the app attached to one of the previously opened apps. A small pop-up will load with several options including Split screen.

After you tap on the Split screen button, the app will minimize to the top of the screen and show you other recently opened apps. Tap on one of these, and it will make up the bottom half of your device.

When you’re done, locate the line and icon dividing the two apps and swipe to the bottom of the display to exit split-screen mode.

If you have any questions, make sure to leave them in the comment section below or hit me up on Twitter.

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Avatar for Justin Duino Justin Duino

I’m a writer for 9to5Google with a background in IT and Android development. Follow me on Twitter to read my ramblings about tech and email me at Tips are always welcome.