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Android P DP4: Minor gesture nav tweaks make a big difference in fluidity

As you may know (especially if you follow us here at 9to5Google), Google’s Developer Preview 2 — launched at I/O in May — came with it a new gesture-based navigation system. I haven’t had much positive to say about it, but Google at least appears to be continuing to tweak it… as it has today with Developer Preview 4.

With Android P Developer Preview 4/Beta 3, Google has changed up the sliding gesture on the multitasking screen. Whereas previously it showed essentially dragging the pill (and weirdly only let you drag it on the right side of the display, since the left side was taken up with the back button), it’s now a draggable area that goes across the width of the display.

Additionally, the newly-tweaked nav also brings the apps you’re switching between to the forefront. Whereas before dragging the pill would simply move between the apps in the standard multitasking view (with the suggested apps along the bottom), the new version pulls the apps into full view as you can see.

Another interesting change here is that the method by which you can quickly navigate to the last used app has changed. Whereas before you had to drag the pill along its “rail” to the right, you can now swipe from left to the right anywhere on the navigation bar area of the display (even in the far right corner). This is a vast improvement to quick multitasking and feels far more natural than dragging around a pill, but comes at the cost of being a bit more hidden to the end user.

9to5Google’s Take

Among a collection of wonderful additions in Android P, the gesture-based navigation feels the most half-baked. But this change, along with the minor changes that Google made with haptic feedback with the last Developer Preview, notably improve fluidity of navigating around the phone in normal use.

It’s been nice to see Google slowly tweak the system since it first launched 2 Developer Previews ago (and it has certainly improved), and maybe if they keep making improvements I’ll be proven wrong. My initial take was that Google needed to scrap this system and start over, but it’s finally starting to be a little less bad.

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Avatar for Stephen Hall Stephen Hall

Stephen is Growth Director at 9to5. If you want to get in touch, follow me on Twitter. Or, email at stephen (at) 9to5mac (dot) com, or an encrypted email at hallstephenj (at) protonmail (dot) com.