How to turn on gesture-based navigation in Android Pie

Android Pie users may have noticed that gesture-based navigation isn't on by default. Jack Wallen shows you how to enable this feature.

How to enable gesture-based navigation in Android Pie What is gesture-based navigation? This new method of navigating about the Android platform jettisons the back, home, and recents buttons in favor of a gesture-based interface, explains TechRepublic's Jack Wallen.

Android Pie has arrived. If you're a lucky owner of either a Pixel phone or an Essential PH-1, you already have this latest update available for the Android platform. It's a massive upgrade that includes plenty of new features.

One such feature is gesture-based navigation. Not everyone will want this new feature, but those who do will love it. Thing is, in some instances, the feature may be disabled out of the box (which is surprising, considering this was to be the biggest update to the Android platform). Fortunately, it's very easy to enable and certainly worth the effort.

But what is gesture-based navigation? Effectively, this new method of navigating about the Android platform jettisons the tried and true back, home, and recents buttons in favor of a gesture-based interface. This new method allows for a more fluid interaction with the platform. It's not 100%, as the back button is tucked away only sometimes. This new method of navigation happens at the bottom center of your screen (at the tiny "pill" button (Figure A).

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

Figure A

gesturenav.jpg

The gesture-aware pill button in place of the home, back, and recents buttons.

The big question (besides why did they disable the big feature out of the box) is how you enable gesture-based navigation? I'm going to show you how to do just that.

How to enable the feature

Here are the steps for enabling gesture-based navigation on Android 9.0:

  1. Open the Settings window on your Android device.
  2. Locate and tap the System entry.
  3. Locate and tap Gestures.
  4. Tap Swipe up on home button.
  5. Toggle the On/Off button to On.

As soon as you enable the feature, you'll see the navigation buttons change.

How to use the feature

How do you use gesture-based navigation? Here's a list of possibilities:

  • Tapping the new home button (oval "pill") will still take you to the home screen.
  • When you're in an app that makes use of the back button, the back button will appear to the left of the home button.
  • Swipe up (and continue swiping up) on the home button to open the App Drawer.
  • A short swipe up on the home button will open the multitasking view.
  • Swipe right and hold on the home button to scroll between apps (when the app you want is centered, release to open said app).
  • A quick swipe right on the home button will switch to the previous app.

Within the multitasking view, the following gestures work:

  • Swipe left and right to move the list between apps.
  • Swipe up to remove apps from the list.
  • Press and hold the top of an app icon to enter split screen view.

That's the gist of gesture-based navigation. It's quite a change from what you're used to on the Android platform and will take some time to get used to. Some will enable the feature and pretty quickly return to the old method. Others might enjoy the new process of navigating around the platform.

I recommend giving gesture-based navigation a try. If you don't like it, you can always disable it. Personally, I've found this method of navigating the platform to be quite efficient, so I'll keep it for a while.

    piehero.jpg
    Image: Google

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.