Android P Navigation Bar Gestures

How to Quickly Switch Apps with Navigation Gestures in Android P

With the new navigation gestures in Android P many people were left wondering if Google was going to replace the previous fast app switcher shortcut from before. Thankfully though, even though we don’t have a Recents button we can still quickly switch between apps in Android 9.0.

Android has a lot of shortcuts and gestures built into them that can really improve the user experience if you know what they are. For example, I recently showed you how to quickly swipe through the various tabs you have opened in Chrome with a simple swipe. There’s also a way to instantly expand the Quick Settings panel with a two finger swipe gesture instead of making the person swipe down twice from the top of the screen. Lately, another popular gesture lets you double tap the Recents button to quickly switch between two different applications.

This last gesture has become well known within the Android community and it’s one that a lot of people rely on every day to shave seconds off of their smartphone interactions. So when Google brought the new navigation gestures to Android P there were a lot of people wondering if they just left out that extra feature. That isn’t the case though and what the team came up with is actually quite clever when you see it in action. I’ll be including the step by step guide down below but you’ll find a video of it right below.

Quickly Switch Between Apps on Android P

  1. Enable Android P’s new Navigation Gestures
  2. Open up an application you want to quickly switch to
  3. Tap the Home button to go back to the Home Screen
  4. Open up the other application that you want to quickly switch between
  5. Then swipe the Home button to the right to switch to the last application

Explanation

So functionally, the gesture done on the new navigation bar of Android P will do the same thing as quickly double tapping on the Recents button before. And, if you are still rocking the traditional Navigation Bar like I am, then you can still double tap the Recents button to switch between the apps. Naturally, to begin this tutorial you will need to have the new navigation gestures enabled on your Android P device. With that done, you will need to go to one of the applications you want to quickly switch between.

From here, you can either tap the Home button to go back to the Home Screen of you can do the short swipe up gesture to enter Android P’s new recents page. If you went back to the Home Screen, browse around and open up the second application that you want to quickly switch to. If you opened up the recents page of Android P then you can just scroll through and tap on the application you want in this combination. When the two applications you have just opened are the ones you want to switch between, we can continue with the guide.

Android P Navigation Bar Gestures Demo
With the Navigation Gestures feature enabled, quickly swipe the Home button to the right.

Now, all you need to do is do a swipe to the right with your thumb landing on the Home button of the Navigation Bar first. Think of it as swiping the Home button to the right and you’ll get the idea there. As with most gestures, it can take a swipe or two until you get the hang of it, but once you get the timing down then it feels like second nature. Not only that, but it also becomes a much more natural feeling method of switching between two applications since it doesn’t require you to hit two buttons quickly.

I still have my issues with the new Navigation Gestures of Android P but I will agree that this is a good first step for Google. David Burke has even come forward and said that the third developer preview of Android P will come with an updated navigation gesture implementation. Whether that means new features, additional gestures, or a complete redesign, we’ll have to wait and see for ourselves. Personally, I am really enjoying Xiaomi’s new navigation gestures they are using in MIUI 9 and am really hoping that other OEMs (or even custom ROMs) decide to implement that method in the future.


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