7.0 Nougat Pixel

How to Quickly Switch Between Apps on the Pixel and Pixel XL

Fast App Switching

With Android 7.0 Nougat, you can quick switch to the last application you had open with a simple gesture of the navigation bar.

Android’s Overview button, which was previously known as the Recents button, is a way for you to switch from one application to another. Pressing it will show you a list of cards where each card represents an ‘open’ application. These don’t have to technically be open in the background (although some can be), but it’s more of a list of your recently used applications and games.

You’ve always been able to press the Overview button, scroll through the list of cards and then tap on one to go directly into it. This can be useful and all, but it can seem excessive when you’re wanting to go back and forth between two applications. Google recognized this happened a lot on Android devices, so they devised a way to make this quicker. With the introduction of Android 7.0 Nougat, we can now quickly switch between two different applications with a simple double tap.

I demonstrate this with the Pixel and Pixel XL, but it should work on all devices with Android 7.0 Nougat (unless the OEM removed the feature).

Fast App Switching

  1. Launch one application
  2. Tap the Home button
  3. Launch a second application
  4. Then double tap the Overview button to quickly switch to the first application

Explanation

This always felt like one of those features that I wouldn’t use very often, but find it incredibly useful when the time arises. For some, this feature will be incredibly useful for when they are multitasking between two applications. I just don’t do this often enough on mobile to use it that often. Still, I love that Google implemented it, and in a way that it is actually very satisfying to use.

So to start, you’ll need to open up one application that you want to quickly switch to. Once the application is open, you can either press the Home button and then launch the second application, or you can press the Overview button and tap on the second application (it just depends on if the apps you want to use are listed in the Overview page). Once you have the second application open, you can then quickly double tap the Overview button.

Fast App Switching Overview

The fast app switching shortcut makes it quick and easy to switch between one app to another.

You can look a this gesture or shortcut (whatever you want to call it) like the ALT + TAB keyboard shortcut in Windows. It’s the same concept here and it does the exact same thing. This ALT + TAB shortcut does work in Android when you have a keyboard attached (just so you know), and that might be why Google decided to also tie the function to the Overview button as well.

We generally see long press gestures implemented in Android, but I feel this fast app switching shortcut works and feels much better as a quick double tap. This shortcut might feel less satisfying on a smartphone or tablet that is slow or laggy, but I have yet to test it on a device like that (since Nougat is relatively new). Still, the shortcut would have to be quicker than tapping the Overview button once and then moving your thumb or finger up to tap on the app you want to switch to.

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