4 big, fat, pesky problems with Android Q gestures

Once upon a time, moving around on Android was a fairly simple process.

Did you want to go to the home screen? You would touch the start button. Did I need to step back one step? You would press the Back button. Did you feel like jumping directly between some recently used applications? Yes, you would crush the General Information button in the same area of ​​the bottom bar of your screen. The only real variable was if he used a phone made by a certain company (cough, cough) that stubbornly insisted on putting those buttons in the wrong order for no apparent reason.

Today, it's a different story. Some Android phones still use that standard three-button configuration. Others use the Android Foot gestures system of 2018, with its unique centered "pill" that places the Start button and the Overview button at the same centered point. However, not all phones with Foot have that gesture system activated. Some Android device manufacturers have added their own custom gesture settings while others are opting to protect their loyal device owners from any confusion induced by gestures at the moment.

And come this fall, when Android Q starts to roll, we will still have another new gesture system released, one that made its debut with the third beta of Q in May and is evolving slowly with each Q preview.

It is confusing as hell, to use the technical term. People who go from a non-gestured system to the new Q gesture system, especially those who are not so tech-savvy, will have a great time adapting to the new approach without tapping to bypass a phone. And the unfortunate mortals who alone got used to Pie's gestures are going to be making a lot of moans when they are facing the Other New System (a fairly common theme here in Google Land that has now been won officially as it corresponds) – name of state).

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But you know what? Despite all the short-term confusion and sudden changes and fling (or flipping and flipping, if you prefer), I'm optimistic that this latest change will be a positive progression for Android in the long term. The truth is that Pie's gesture system was never particularly good. And once it overcomes the initial impact of the last switcheroo, Q's new approach is undoubtedly the most natural, the most intuitive and, in general, the best available.

Or at least the best base . Despite all its positive aspects, the new Android gesture system still has some serious usability problems, characteristics that make it annoying and, at times, even impossible to use effectively. It's still a matter of beta level, so we should be a little forgiving, but Q's active development time is coming to an end quickly, with only two "launch candidates" almost final before the official release of Q, by what should also start to think realistically about what kind of experience will bring us the final version of Q.

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We expect Google to raise these areas and achieve a smooth and polished gesture experience by the time the final Q software arrives:

1. The inconsistency of the command Back

After having lived with the gestures of Android Q for two full months, I hope to say that sliding in from the edge of the screen to go back one step is a spectacular way to get around your phone. Working with the thumb to the lower left corner of the screen, where the traditional Android Back button lived, was always a bit arduous: one of those uncomfortable movements that require palm yoga (mind out of the gutter, bucko) – and being able to slide anywhere along or the edge of the screen seems superior in every way.

In fact, I played with the creation of similar configurations using third-party applications before, in fact. It really is an ergonomic improvement given the size of our phones today, and is now integrated into the Android itself.

The problem is that it does not always work consistently, and that, in turn, causes you to yell out curses for the family like "GEE WILLIKERS, disturbing!" or "GO TO REVIEW, YOU HAVE ADVANCED A CELL PHONE DEVICE!" while angrily turns his metaphorical mustache of yesteryear. (You have a metaphorical mustache of yesteryear, right? They are invaluable when it comes to comically expressed rage.)

The most common area where this failure is found: one that may have heard these heights, or maybe you'll even have a real experience, if you're a beta-rockin creature type of Earth creature, it's when you're using an application that has one of those sliding menus on the left of the screen, like many applications of Android. do. The gesture of sliding to open the menu, and see, is about the same as sliding to go back one step in Android Q. And so you end up in a complicated situation where you get stuck sliding forever . while you see an individual message in Gmail, for example, and never backs up, but opens and closes the menu of your current application in a maddeningly endless cycle.

And gee, let me tell you: that's enough to make even the brain of a sensible person boil. (Or so I imagine.)

  Android Q Gestures JR

I'm going crazy, I'm going crazy …

At other times, you may end up accidentally activating your back. command when in fact you only want to slide normally in that same area of ​​the screen: to adjust a slider that extends near the edge of the screen, for example, or to delete something like a message in a list. It can also be found in an Android area where the Back command does nothing inexplicably, as I have found on more than a few occasions. For all its convenience, the gesture of sliding from the side seems to interfere with many things.

Google is supposedly working on a solution, but I'm skeptical of how effective it will actually be. The first part, according to the information published on Twitter by a member of the Android team, is to allow him to open a Application menu "poking the drawer" and then slide your finger, in other words, slide your finger a little. from the side of the screen, then pausing for a moment and then sliding a bit more. Um, to the right. A perfectly natural and intuitive thing to do. (Or not.)

According to an upcoming beta release filtered, meanwhile, our Android creators are also considering a "Backward Sensitivity" option that will allow them to decrease the sensitivity of the new Back gesture to decrease the chances of that interferes with other commands. Again, it is not exactly the most elegant or effective way to solve this problem and it is not something that an average user should have to get into (although "Sensitivity backwards" sounds like a good option for the massage therapist robot , I just hope Google is.) working on.

And finally, Google continues to refine the ways in which developers can choose their applications outside of the Back gesture of Q to avoid conflicts. Again, it is not exactly the way to create a clear and consistent user experience.

And there's more.

2. The Android general information system (you know, the screen that allows you to browse the applications you used recently and also access the application suggestions, the Google search bar and the entire application drawer from anywhere on your phone) Of the most useful and underutilized features of the operating system. If there is something that the launch of Pie was successful with his configuration of gestures, was putting emphasis on that area of ​​Android and making it easier than ever to interact with him.

In Android Q, things move in the opposite direction. In theory, Q allows you to access the overview interface by sliding up the thin bar at the bottom of the screen, then pausing and holding your finger for a moment. In practice, it is almost impossible to do that correctly with any amount of consistency, and even when it works, it is a thorough way of performing an action that should feel instantaneous.

Seriously: it has reached the point where I have been so frustrated at not being able to display the General Description in a fast or reliable way that I no longer use it and I mostly go back to the start screen and then I go out there. Or, worse, I will use the bar at the bottom of the screen to blindly slide the applications in a similar way to iOS and I hope to land where I want.

Speaking of which … [19659027] 3. The unpredictability of sliding the application

One of the new gestural powers of Android Q is the ability to slide in any direction on the bar at the bottom of the screen and move backwards or forwards in some kind of hypothetical "application continuum". It's a direct scam (uh, I'm sorry, "borrowing inspiration") from the iPhone's gesture settings, and it's possibly the worst part of what Google is doing.

Let's start with the positive: press the bar to the right once to return to Your most recent application is quite useful. And then realizing that he wants to go forward to the application he was using a minute ago and move that bar to the left is an ingenious trick.

But apart from that very limited action, "continuous application" is not especially practical. Your lizard brain does not remember the exact order of each application that you have had open over time, so you end up simply passing your finger without knowing what you are going to find; then, often, you go through several random processes before landing where you want. . It is a less sensitive version of the general provision (and now difficult to open), and it simply is not an effective system.

  Android Q Gestures JR

The blind slide game with Android Q. Whee!

The concept of any continuum is not sustained either, let's say that you are seeing very important images related to business in Google Photos (because they are clearly the only types of images you have on your phone, right?)?). Then, move the bar at the bottom of the screen to the right and go back to the last application you used, Gmail, to review some very important emails related to business from your most important business partners (again, the only type that exists in your life pure and eternally focused). Open a message, then think: "My God, I need to go back to Google Photos for a moment!"

You'd think you could move that bar from the bottom of the screen to the right to do it – right? Incorrect. That only works for a short time after changing the application. Once you have opened a message in Gmail, moving to the right in that bar will not do anything. You will have to scroll to on the left in the "back" direction, to go to Photos. OMG.

And finally …

4. The Google Assistant

The Google Assistant is the center of everything Google does these days. We already know that. And yet, in a particularly disconcerting and counterintuitive turn, reaching the Wizard within the gesture system of Android Q is an aggravation exercise.

Used to be, pressed and held the Home key to deploy the Wizard. That command has existed for so long that most mammals with Android know it well. But with Q, there is no pressable start key, and the thin bar that is now in the previous place of the start key has approximately 7,477 associated gestures.

So, what did Google discover in Q? it is a gesture in which it slides in diagonally from the bottom corner of the screen to open the Wizard. Not only is it out of sight and out of mind, it is a proven way to make people not use something, but it is also very easy to activate by mistake. I think 90 percent of my attendant activations lately have been accidents (and usually followed by outbursts of "GO TO HECK, YOU HAVE DARNED CELLS OTHER THAN CELL PHONES!"). Supposedly, Google is working on a solution for the detectable part of the problem, but that would not do anything to fix the accidental trigger factor.

In general, there is great potential in the gesture navigation system of Android Q. It feels like a sensible base for the future, only one with many rough edges that must be solved.

If Google manages to solve these annoying problems before the final version of Q, we will be golden. If not, well, friends, we will give our phones a certain gesture with a single finger many times in the year between now and the arrival of Android R.

Gee willikers.

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[Android Intelligence videos at Computerworld]

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