Prior to Android Pie's release, beta users were up in arms over the new gesture-based navigation. Anxious (non-beta) users were only given glimpses of what this new interface would be like, which left our imaginations to wander. Was Google about to unleash something so profoundly different that it would completely change the way we interacted with our devices?
Prior to actually using gesture-based navigation, I imagined there'd be no more screen tapping, and everything would be done with a gesture. A single-finger swipe would do X, a double-finger swipe would do Y, a double-finger rotating motion would do Z, and a four-finger flip reverse and squiggle would open a magic portal to Mountain View, Calif. You get the idea. We were all going to have to learn some secret interactive code in order to use our phones and tablets.
SEE: Mobile Computing Policy (Tech Pro Research)
The reality is not so drastic. In fact, the primary difference is that, instead of three buttons on the home screen, there is only one—sometimes. Case in point, when an app requires a back button, that particular button is there to lend a hand—only at the bottom left of the screen. That single button on the homescreen allows you to open recent apps overview with a short swipe up and the App Drawer with a long swipe up. And that is really all there is to the change.
Truth be told, gesture-based navigation is really just a new way of interacting with the Home button that makes using Android a bit more efficient—especially with one hand. In the end, there's no need to panic. Google hasn't redefined how users interact with the Android platform. It only refined that Home button a bit to make the interface cleaner and more effective.
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.