Android Q update: No going back now!

Patrick Devaney


Although rumors have been building steadily recently that Google is preparing to ditch the Android operating system, development of Android’s next update, Android Q, hasn’t slowed down. The release date for Android Q is still far off, but there are snippets of information about what we can expect breaking through. One piece of information in particular is very interesting indeed.

Android Q

Google is thinking about killing off the back button for Android Q

The current version of Android, Android Pie, is the ninth full version of Google’s all-conquering mobile operating system. Throughout all nine versions, the back button has been an ever-present feature. It is a simple enough tool to use. No matter what you’re doing on your Android phone, the back button is there ready to take you back to what you doing before. It looks now that in the next version of Android the back button will no longer be there for you.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you won’t be able to go back if you end up with a phone running Android Q. It just means there won’t be a button you press, if you want to go back. According to a report by XDA Developers, Google plans to completely replace the back button with a gesture-based navigation system.

Gesture control options Android Pie

If you own or have used an Android Pie device, you might be familiar with gesture-based navigation. In its latest version of Android Google gave users the option to activate its new gesture control mechanism. Android Pie has a variety of different gesture controls. Our favorites include switching the camera to selfie mode by giving the phone a little twist with your wrist, and double-tapping the screen to check notifications when it is in sleep mode. Activating all the gesture controls on Android Pie turned the traditional three-button control system into a two-button system. It replaced the past app button with a swipe gesture.

Gesture navigation swipe

Crucially though, in Android Pie, Google made all of these gesture controls optional.

When looking at a pre-release version of Android Q, XDA discovered that Google is working on a way to replace the back button with a gesture. This move is to improve the fluidity as you pass to the “last app.” The other big news they found, however, is that, in the version of Android Q they were looking at, there was no way to disable gestures.

In practice this might not be the big deal it looks like. The back gesture will likely be a slide to the left from the center pill. It’ll be smoother than tapping the back button and will give your phone the ability to animate the back process, from the instant you begin moving your finger in the correct way.

Experimental gestures in Android Q

  • Tap pill: Go home
  • Long press pill: Launch Google Assistant
  • Short swipe up of the pill: Open horizontal recent apps overview
  • Long swipe up of the pill: App drawer
  • Slide pill to the right: Scroll through recent apps
  • Quick slide pill to the right: Open last app
  • Slide pill to the left: Go back

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