Google has released Beta 5 for Android Q today, and the big change is a confirmation of what wed already suspected: a tweak to how the back gesture will work. The back gesture will now work differently depending on what app youre in, and Google has finally landed on what it thinks the gesture should be to invoke the Google Assistant.

Lets start with the back gesture. Starting with this beta, swiping in from the left side of the screen with apps that use navigation drawers will cause those drawers to “peek” in to show you that instead of a back gesture, youre opening the drawer. Apps that dont have a drawer will still just go back when you swipe in, and swiping in from the right side will still just take you back.

If you managed to wade your way through all those if-thens on the very first read, then congrats: you understand how Androids back gesture is going to work. If you didnt, well, thats probably because the behavior is confusing. “Back” has been a core system feature of Android since the very beginning, but with its 10th version Google is making it work differently depending on what context youre in.

The drawer behavior is changing. Users will be able to open the drawer by peeking the drawer, and then swiping. Big benefit is that this works with existing apps with "old" DrawerLayout versions.

— Chris Banes (@chrisbanes) July 2, 2019

The new behavior is a shift from the more consistent way (but also confusing, just in a different way) that Google had originally described when it showed me Android Q ahead of Google I/O. I predicted it would be a problem back then because so many apps use drawers and, sure enough, its a problem.

Not a huge problem, of course. People will swipe and theyll either see a drawer or a back arrow and eventually figure it all out. Or theyll do what Ive done: just start using the right side of the screen for back. Samsung owners who stuck to the Galaxy default of leaving the back button on the right side: you may now proceed to gloat.

Speaking of Samsung: it currently uses the right edge of the screen for its own edge display feature, and we dont know how itll handle this new system. The same applies to people that use custom launchers: Google has decided that in Beta 6 (the next one), those phones will revert to the classic three-button system and that it will “address the remaining issues in a post-launch update allowing all users to switch to gestural navigation.”

Now for the Google Assistant. You will swipe up and in diagonally from either bottom corner of the screen to bring it up. For this beta, Google is adding little visual “handles” to teach you how to use it, but its unclear whether they will make it to the final version. Googles Dave Burke says in todays blog post that “youll notice indicators in the bottom corners that were continuing to tune” (emphasis mine).

All of these changes


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