If you own the Pixel 2 or the Pixel 2 XL and dislike the software navigation bar then you should know that you can replace it with something else. Following this guide shows you how to disable the navbar and then then switch to using one of many alternative navigation apps that use gesture controls instead.
I have never been a fan of the typical software navigation button implementation that Android has used for years. It definitely gets the job done and some prefer it to hardware buttons because it can be customized. I’m certainly not the biggest fan of hardware buttons either though but I do prefer them to Android’s regular navbar. Personally, I prefer to have things gesture based and have enjoyed that ever since I was introduced to Pie Controls via the Paranoid Android custom ROM.
This used to be easy to implement in just about every version of Android but lately things have become a bit more difficult. We used to be able to remove the software navigation bar with a simple build.prop edit. Things are actually easier with the OnePlus 5T, but that isn’t the case with the Pixel 2 or the Pixel 2 XL. However, thanks to a dedicated community developer there is a ZIP file that we can flash in TWRP to remove the software navigation bar of the Pixel 2.
With that done, you can then dive in to the Play Store to use one of the many popular gesture control applications. I’ll be linking to a few here (and showing them off in the video below) to get you on the right track, but you’ll definitely want to scour the Play Store to find one that you like the most.
Pixel 2 Navigation Bar Gestures
- Disable the software navigation bar of the Pixel 2
- Launch the Play Store application
- Download an alternative navigation app (Pie Controls – Swipe Navigation – Gesture Control)
- Then configure the one you like the most
This step by step tutorial is a detailed explanation of a topic I covered on my Pixel 2 Tips and Tricks article. I recommend you read through that if you're curious about learning the ins and outs of the Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL.
There really isn’t much to explain with this guide though as most of the work is done when you follow the guide about how to disable the Pixel 2 Navigation Bar. However, this guide can be a great stepping off point for those who have never thought about replacing their Pixel 2 or Pixel 2 XL Navigation Bar with gesture controls. And just like I experienced with the OnePlus 5T, there are some cases when one alternative navigation bar application doesn’t fit every use case.
So you’ll want to do most of the heavy lifting by following the instructions I put in the tutorial that is linked in step 1 of the guide above. That requires that you unlock the bootloader of the Pixel 2 so that you can install TWRP on the Pixel 2. Now, if you’re going for a systemless root method then you should know that you don’t need to have TWRP fully installed and you can simply temporarily boot into TWRP to flash the ZIP file on your smartphone.
With that done, go ahead and boot back into Android and be careful what you do here. Remember, your Pixel 2 Navigation Bar is gone so you can’t press Home, Back or Recents to navigation through Android. This isn’t critical or anything (because you can always just reboot the phone if you get some place you can’t navigate away from), but it’s something you should be aware of. In this spot, I instantly launch the Play Store application and download a few navigation bar gesture applications to test out.
I have linked three in the guide above but there are dozens that you can try out. For the OnePlus 5T I felt I was getting the best results with the Swipe Navigation application. This one still works very well on the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL but I actually prefer Pie Controls as it has been activating very accurately and consistently on the Pixel 2 XL that I have. If you have a case on your phone though this may not be the case for you so again, download a few and try them out.
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