Back when Apple released the iPhone X last fall, veteran users of prior models had to retrain their muscle memory and embrace new navigational gestures in the absence of a physical Home button.
The Android P mobile operating system that Google made available for its Pixel devices and select other smartphones on Tuesday as a public beta—the formal release of the software comes in the fall—also leans on fresh navigational gestures, some of which can’t help but remind you of similar gestures on the iPhone X.
That said, I don’t believe the learning curve for most Android loyalists will be nearly as steep as it was for the iPhone crowd—it sure didn’t take me long to master the P gestures. It probably also means less of a transition for anyone familiar with the iPhone X who decides for whatever reason to switch to Android down the road.
At this stage of the Android P beta, you will have to enable the new gestures on the phone by heading to Settings, and then tapping in order, System, Gestures, “Swipe up on Home button,” and then finally tapping the switch to turn the setting on.
Upon doing so, the familiar virtual square Overview or Recents button that had been on the bottom right of the screen disappears, leaving two other small virtual buttons behind: a sideways triangular back button on the left, and a redesigned (it had been a circle) hockey rink-shaped bar in the middle, which serves as the Home button.
From time to time, and depending what app you’re in, you will still rely on that back button to retreat to a prior screen, but in some views it too disappears. The iPhone X has no such back button.
With that, here are common Android P gestures, and where applicable, the iPhone equivalent.
Swipe up about halfway from the bottom of the screen: This gesture will let you see cards that represent your open apps on a P phone. You’ll also see a Google search bar, and just below, icons for suggested apps. You can swipe left or right on the cards to scroll through the various apps, tapping on any given card to have that app take over the full screen.
A gesture on the iPhone X works much the same way.
What is different from the iPhone X is how you quit or close an app. On a P phone, you swipe up on a card to ditch the underlying app. The iPhone X requires an extra, rather annoying, step. First, you must press down on a card until a red circle with a dash appears. Only then can you swipe up to dismiss the app on the X.
Swipe up a second time or swipe further up the screen: Doing so lets you get to all the the apps that are loaded on your P phone, though you may have to swipe up or down to see icons that aren’t visible. You can get to this all-apps view by swiping up from any screen on your phone.
A swipe up gesture on the iPhone X serves a different purpose: it takes you to a Home screen. On the X, you can swipe left or right to see icons for any apps that are on other Home screens.
Tap and hold the Home button: This summons the Google Assistant on a P phone, same as in the prior Oreo version of Android. There is no Home button on the iPhone X.
Swipe left to right on the first Home screen. Doing so on both Android P and iPhone X screens surfaces news stories, appointments, weather and so on.