Later this year, Google will make Pixel 3 owners use gesture-based navigation.
With a new version of Android rolling out worldwide, the Mountain View-based company confirmed you’re stuck with more swiping and less tapping to control its future Pixel devices. The Pixel 3 would then be like Apple’s iPhone X, which replaced a physical home button and on-screen taps with nothing but swipes.
It comes as a surprise because, although Google made it clear that gesture-based navigation was in the works, there was still a feeling that on-screen navigation buttons would remain. Now we know there won’t be any Pixel devices clinging on to the past. Google would like its hardware and software to remain consistent, and thus gesture-based navigation can’t be avoided.
Older Pixel devices are safe and can embrace the old layout, but remember eventually they’ll stop receiving system-level upgrades after two years.
In an interview with Android Central, Google’s EK Chung explained the decision:
“Google is making this its primary navigation system going forward. While Pixel devices that are updated from Oreo will still see their three-button navigation by default with an option to switch to gestures, future Google phones (and any other manufacturer that wants it) will ship with only gesture navigation.”
The feature isn’t required to be live on third-party devices, though. Google’s partners are able to offer traditional buttons as well as gesture-based navigation. But, as long as you’re on a Pixel device released this year or after, you’ll be stuck with gesture-based navigation.
Google will, of course, anger many of its customers by forcing gesture-based navigation onto them. Over the years, Android’s on-screen buttons have boasted the same three-icon array. Android Pie, however, turns that into an all-in-one presentation that might confuse some users. Yet there’s no doubt people will adjust, or they’ll need to choose another Android device.
Because there are still two months until the potential announcement, expect a lot more information to trickle out.