The first preview build of Android P brought plenty of changes, but one aspect remained the same: As the iPhone X exchanged buttons for gestures, Google was still using the same three on-screen buttons we're used to. That is, until now. Google appears to be readying gesture controls for their upcoming Android 9.0 release.
Rumors of Google's new gesture controls have circulated in recent weeks, but we had no visual proof of their existence until the company accidentally showed us in an unrelated blog post. The company subsequently cropped the screenshot to hide the new navigation bar, but not before the internet got its eyes on Android's probable future.
Unfortunately, this navigation bar doesn't exist in the current Android P preview, but is in development at Google. A source tells 9to5Google's Stephen Hall that the new system works much like the iPhone X's, with a swipe-up gesture for multitasking (as the multitasking button has been removed). The back button reportedly disappears when not in use, and is not seen on the home screen.
Stephen Hall went on to speculate on how the new system might work. According to his latest post, the pill-shaped button at the bottom will serve as a home button, meaning you still tap it to go home. However, you'll now be able to swipe up on this button to access the recent apps menu, which has been changed to a horizontally-scrolling list instead of a vertically-scrolling one.
So it's not entirely a swipe-based navigation system — in fact, it pales in comparison to the iPhone X's 12 unique swipe gestures — but it's a start. Hopefully we'll get to test this system in some form with the upcoming DP2 release of Android P, which is slated to drop in early May. That will give Google plenty of time to work out any kinks with the new system before the public Android 9.0 release in Q3 2018.
If you have a Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, or Pixel 2 XL and want to check out the Android P preview, make sure to follow our guide below. It's the only way to make sure you'll be among the first to check out gesture controls when they finally drop.