How to Use Android P's Confusing New Gesture Controls

Jacob Kleinman 05/10/2018. 9 comments
Android Android P Google Software
GIF: Google

Android P comes packed full of exciting new features , but it also introduces a huge change in how you’ll navigate your smartphone. Google is replacing the virtual navigation buttons we know and love with a single pill-shaped icon and a whole bunch of swiping.

The new system seems pretty intuitive (and suspiciously similar to Apple’s controls for the iPhone X), but getting used to these gestures still takes a little effort. Here’s everything you need to know to get around in Android P, including a few tricks you can try if you miss Android’s old navigation:

Getting around in Android P

Go Home: There’s no more home button (virtual or otherwise) in Android P, but the replacement is pretty straightforward. Just tap on the pill-shaped button at the bottom of the screen to quickly jump back to the home screen.

Multi-Tasking: Google removed the “Recent” button you used to use to pull up apps, replacing it with a short swipe up from the bottom of the screen. This gesture pulls up the new multi-tasking view, which is where you’ll find recent apps you’ve used. The new interface is interactive as well, with a built-in search bar and the option to copy text from specific apps without actually opening them.

App Drawer: To see a list of all your apps at once, all you have to do is swipe up once to the multi-tasking view and swipe up again to launch the app drawer.

Switch Between Apps: To quickly switch between apps without launching multi-tasking view, press down on the pill-shaped button and drag it to the right to shuffle through recent apps. You can also flick the same button quickly to jump straight to the last app you were using.

Google Assistant: To launch Google Assistant with a gesture, press down on the pill button until the AI launches. Of course, you could also just say “OK, Google,” or squeeze your phone if you’re using a Pixel 2.

Go Back: Google hasn’t totally killed off the old Android back button, but you won’t see it all the time in Android P. Instead, the virtual button only shows up in certain apps when it’s contextually relevant. So, keep an eye out for that little triangle icon as you explore Android P.

Tips and tricks for transitioning to Android P

If you’re struggling with getting a grasp on Android P, there’s no need to run back to an older version of Google’s software. Android Police has a few helpful suggestions for making the new gestures work for you.

Wondering how split-screen works in this new setup? You’re not alone. Without the old “Recent” button it’s not exactly obvious, but it’s still pretty easy. Just jump into multi-tasking view and press down on the icon at the top of any app to make a menu appear. Then select “Split screen” to send it to the top half of the display, before picking a second app to view on the bottom of your screen.

If you’re having trouble getting to your app drawer quickly with Google’s new two-swipe system, there’s an easy fix for that, too. Just swipe your finger all the way up the screen to skip straight to your full list of apps. This only works from the home screen, though. Otherwise you’ll still need to swipe up twice.

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