How to switch between open apps in Android Pie with a gesture

Jack Wallen shows you an even more efficient way of opening recent apps on Android Pie.

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Android Pie has brought to light more minor improvements than any other major release of the platform to date. Everything from aesthetic changes to changes in which users navigate the interface, all with one goal— make Android as user-friendly as possible. To that end, the developers of Android have succeeded. And even though it may take you a moment to grow accustomed to the new gesture-based navigation, it is far more efficient than the previous method.

One such tweak is how you switch between apps. There are now two methods. The first, obvious, method is by way of the standard recent apps overview. For this you swipe up to reveal the recent apps, swipe to the right or left to locate the app in question, and then tap the app to bring it back to the fore.

SEE: Job description: Android developer (Tech Pro Research)

There's another, less obvious way to switch between recent apps—a way that is actually even more efficient. This alternative method is also gesture-based, but it only takes one action to accomplish. The only caveat to this method is that it's a bit tricky to pull off.

Let me explain.

The gesture

If you long-press the home button, Google Assistant will open. If, however, you tap, hold, and swipe to either the right or left, a slightly different recent apps overview will appear (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A
Image: Jack Wallen

The difference between this recent apps overview and the swipe-up from the home button overview is that you're missing the dock icons (Figure B), and you cannot close apps from this view.

Figure B

Figure A

This is the view from the "official" recent apps overview.

Image: Jack Wallen

Once the recent app you want is in focus, release your finger from the screen, and it will open.

And that's all there is to opening an app, using this alternative method. As I mentioned, the only caveat is that there is a fine line between opening this overview and opening Google Assistant. The trick is touching and moving your finger right or left immediately. It'll take a bit of testing, but eventually you'll get used to it.

A more efficient method

If you've already begun to enjoy the new gesture-based navigation, once you get the hang of switching between recent apps with this less-than-obvious method, you'll find Android Pie to be even more efficient. Give this method a try, and see if you don't find it to be an even faster route to locating and opening your most recent apps on Android Pie.

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By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.