Home Android 10 hidden tricks for making the most of Android gestures

10 hidden tricks for making the most of Android gestures

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Getting around Android sure ain’t what it used to be.

Google’s made some serious changes to the Android navigation experience over the past few years, going from the old-style three-button setup to a somewhat clunky early gesture model in Android 9, then a whole other new gesture system in Android 10, and then finally a slightly refined version of that same gesture model with this year’s Android 11 release.

It’s enough to make anyone’s head spin — and whether you’re a card-carrying Android nerd (hiya!) or someone who’s just reluctantly trying to figure out the ins and outs of your phone’s ever-evolving navigation system, there’s almost certainly more you could be doing to make the most of Android’s current arrangement.

I’ve been fiddling around obsessively with Android gestures for years now, and along the way, I’ve stumbled onto some pretty helpful tricks for tapping into their many layers and hidden possibilities. So crack those phalanges and do some gentle thumb stretching: Here are 10 tricks I’ve uncovered that’ll let you move around your phone like a pro.

(Note that these tips apply specifically to Google’s current Android gesture system — the one included with Android 10 and Android 11, which is identifiable by its thin line (not a pill-shaped button!) and a lack of any other icons along the bottom of the screen. If you’re using a phone that came out before Android 10 was released, you may have to adjust your system settings to bump up to this newer standard. Search your settings for “navigation” to find the option; on devices using something close to Google’s version of Android, it’ll be called “System Navigation,” while on Samsung phones, it’ll be “Navigation Type.”)

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1. Learn a new app menu gesture

All right, first things first: One of the most frustrating flaws with Android’s current gesture setup is the way the universal Back gesture — where you swipe in from the left side of the screen — overlaps with other actions already present throughout the operating system.

The most common conflict is with the gesture for opening a drawer-style menu within an app, like what you see within Gmail or Google Drive. Google created an awkward mechanism for differentiating between swipes meant for going back and swipes meant for opening an app menu, but it’s clunky, inconsistent, and generally just too unpredictable to rely on.

So here’s the better way: When you want to open an app’s menu drawer, swipe in downward from the left side of the screen at a 45-degree angle. That’ll consistently pull up the app’s menu instead of activating the Back command, as frequently happens when you swipe across in a horizontal line.

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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