Android 10’s gestures: How they work, what Google changed | TECH(talk)

hi and welcome back to Tech Talk I’m Ken
Mingis executive editor Computerworld I’m here with JR Raphael our Android
expert we’re gonna be talking about Android 10 and focusing on gestures and
what the hell is going on this year stick around okay so jr. thanks for being here man
hey thanks for having me good to be here it’s good to have you back um you know
obviously Android 10 is out there and as you’ve written about several times on
computer world you know one of the big changes is gestures yes and there’s
there’s this big debate you know that goes on and you know we’re gonna deal
with this in a future episode about you know who comes up with gestures and who
can improve them and who adopts them and who copies them and and all that but I
wanted to get a sense for you from you about especially Android 10 what’s
changed because this is I recall one of the things that happened was that with
the last version of Android we got new gestures and there’s Android 10 we got
revamped gestures right which is gonna mean a lot of Android users have to redo
some muscle memory really quick yeah a lot of change a lot of adjustment and if
you’ve been following along anyone who watches the betas of Android 10 the
public betas at Google piss out there have been a lot of little steps along
the way where things have evolved so especially if you’re really tuned into
Android Android news there’s been a lot of little changes in evolution Android 9
which still had a name was known as pi hi Kendra 10 I know I kind of missed the
naming games and the Android 10 just sounds so so Apple like in some ways and
not in a good way it’s like that’s the whimsy yeah it’ll always be queen of
puddings there you go I’m still linked I’m some Android quiche and though it’s
not sweet but it’s the only thing I can come up with a little sugar on top
anyway gestures alright so yeah PI so pi kind of introduced this hybrid
system where they were testing the waters there was still a back button
that would appear on the screen button or you know it’s okay Osbert virtual
button yeah but it would appear is need an actual tap a bowl dedicated button
and it wouldn’t always be there like on your home screen you would see it but
when you open up your browser you opened a Gmail or whatever app it would pop up
with irrelevant you know then there was kind of like a pill one button in the
middle that was the home button you could tap it every time you hit this
different ways it was kind of like a mash up it was gestures it was also
traditional buttons a little bit of both it was a little it was awkward it was
kind of like they were trying to do gestures without
really hard without really committing to it exactly yeah and so Android can
completely reinvent the wheel with that taking a model that as we’ve talked
about a lot is much more similar to Apple’s iOS not exactly the same but it
definitely has there’s undoubtedly some some overlap so you know now there is no
actual button you have a little kind of line on the bottom of the screen and you
can swipe up on it to go home you swipe up and hold to get to your your overview
your recent apps to me between apps you can swipe left or right on it to move
between recent apps and then instead of a back button you now can just swipe in
from the left or right side of the screen anywhere to go this this doesn’t
sound to me and you know again coming from the Apple side of things where
there have been a variety of gestures and changes over the years I know that
you know Apple did some changes last year in 2018 and you know it really does
require learning new ways of navigating your phone you don’t really think about
it because you know you get so used to you know swiping and swiping up swiping
down how is someone say coming to Android 10 for the first time supposed
to know what these new gestures are ER is here is it spelled out in a way that
makes it clear what you know what you want to do if you want to go back or go
to your home screen or you just need to read up on it or how does a user know
that that’s a good question I think we’ll have to see cuz it’ll be up to
each if I realize those people probably haven’t even gotten the Android 10 yet
right right and to its credit what Google seems to be doing and I think
what most advice makers will probably do is leave the gestures off by default if
your device didn’t have them to begin with so you know if you’re using a phone
that has the old three buttons on it if you upgrade to Android 10 whenever you
get that upgrade you would be able to turn them on in the in the settings but
by default it’s not gonna be there that’s that of course when we start
seeing new phones come out with Android 10 they will presumably more and more
have them enabled the one phone that I’ve seen that does have them enabled by
default which was the new 1 + 7 t phone it did do a nice little tutorial when
you first start up and you select you could select between you know
traditional buttons or the gestures and then when you went to gestures it would
tell you you know swipe up here to go home swipe up here and hold and kind of
walked you through a little tutorial doing it and I think that’s that’s gonna
be key because it really is an adjustment like you said
and I think the first day or two of anyone using it you’re gonna be a little
you just feel out of sorts you know like you don’t know where you are you’re it’s
such a key part of the phone experience well speaking of out of sorts we were
talking with video producer Chris here who is not amused he’s an Android guy
not amused with the change in the gestures because the he thinks are too
reminiscent of Apple and you know would you say that that’s the case do you find
that the gestures that that Android 10 now has or more iOS like they really
have adopted whatever Apple was doing yeah I mean by and large I don’t think
it’s not identical there are areas that are different like in iOS you don’t have
the universal swipe in back saying because back has never been kind of as
prominent in iOS as it is an Android but yeah I mean at its core there’s there’s
there’s certainly a lot of overlap and it’s hard to deny that they took some
inspiration from that you know sort of the way it works in treating it as a
standard so you know for me when I first went to it I think I had a day where I
just felt discombobulated and I wasn’t quite sure I don’t know and to be fair –
that wasn’t an early beta when I was using it’s gotten a lot better along the
way and I think once most people give it you really feel good I saw a few days to
a week I think yeah you said earlier about a week so give it a week and you
should be good to go if you can’t figure it out after a week you may want to you
know rethink this whole gesture thing yeah but the nice thing is Google is
leaving in the old 3 button traditional Android set up as an option when they
when PI came around that wasn’t an option people were upset
most people who just preferred that and then for you know accessibility purposes
some people have a harder time with gestures and with tapping so from here
on out Google has mandated that every device has the option to go back to the
old three button kind of style for those who want to live a more analog life as I
say you’ve had you had written last week that you know with the gestures and
things that you there’s still – what you call fatal flaws or at least serious
issues with with what’s going on what was that about yeah so a lot of the
things I wrote about early on and the early betas have been addressed and
things have definitely been smoothed out and gotten better but they’re really too
big lingering flaws that having used this final version of the enrich and ten
gestures for a while just keep jumping out at me the first is consistency where
they’re and it mostly ties to that back command this
living in what people find a little weird too you can swipe in from the left
or the right and that’s both back either wait to go back yeah you would logically
think the right would be a forward yeah but the idea is that there has never
been a forward command in Android it’s always to go back and for you know
whatever way you’re holding your phone left or right-handed hold in your left
hand your right hand there’s always a simple way to do it that’s easy to
access is that why it’s done so if you’re if you’re a lefty you can swipe
or if you’re you know either way yeah someone some Googler said that at some
point it uh I think we’re in some Q&A they said that it was kind of for
accessibility reasons and to make it easy to hold in either hand okay but
still the problem with that gesture is it just it can it kind of overlaps and
conflicts with a lot of other existing commands within Android so some of the
examples I gave when you’re swiping in google photos you might pull up your
phone and you’ll be swiping between images and your gallery yeah that’s sort
of that same exact swiping mechanism and often I’ll be flipping through images
and accidentally go back and get taken back out to you know the main view
instead of being in when that happens and you go back to photos please take
you back to where you were in photos or do you have to go back or does it take
you back to the starting point in photos it’ll take you back to like the main
photo screen so if you’re looking through saying oh you’ve gone through a
hundred photos and you accidentally hit back and then you go back to photos you
got to go through those hundred photos again it’ll take you back to whatever
screen you were okay risa okay okay but it’s still irritating and so the proper
procedure is to scream and yell and that kind of stuff and it’s not the only
place like in if you do any kind of photo editing sometimes I use an app
called AZ screen recorder to take some of the you know screen video cast that
that show up in my stories and in that too there’s there’s a little swipeable
tool and you’re moving through the timeline and suddenly you go slightly
too far to the edge and you’ve been taken take yourself back in it and if an
app doesn’t have a confirmation do you wish to go back you could potentially
lose what you’re trying to do is the assumption there that that application
developers you know as these gestures become more prominent or more common
that the app developers themselves are gonna tweak the apps so that you would
avoid situations like that I mean is it up to the I guess it’s up to the app
develop a and I think that’s kind of the problem is that’s the assumption but
Google needs to set a standard and make it clear and make it consistent because
right now I mean the there’s a lot of the absent a
problematic are Google’s own apps which really tells you a lot yeah that’s weird
it is we’re not coordinated on that that’s a question okay what would you
know yeah yeah I mean even Gmail you can swipe away messages you know if you want
to archive a message you swipe it and the Google’s own messaging app you swipe
away messages to dismiss them a lot of apps use that gesture and I think the
idea in theory is that you do a slightly different kind of swipe for one or the
other but it’s just you don’t get that consistency and you never know what’s
gonna happen and you know in Gmail sometimes I’ve tried to swipe back to go
out of the app to my home screen and websites only archived but I’ll mess an
important email that you needed to hang on to right which is still there but
it’s archived now right and if you don’t see it you know in the five or seven or
however many seconds you have to hit that undo button then that happened to
me once where I said well I’ve no idea archived away now you know what happened
it’s my permanent excuse for the next 10 years that I just accidentally swiped it
away maybe it’s a good thing it’ll give us an excuse alright so consistency is
an issue and then and then you would also written about commitment yeah and
that kind of is that same thing most of it revolves around that back gesture a
pretty common swiping pattern in Android is swiping in from the left side of an
app to open its main menu there called navigation drawer like a drawer yeah
yeah okay yeah and again swiping it from the left side of the screen just like
the back so Google tried to kind of make a compromise and and let both things
exist in a weird way with just slight variations like they have this gesture
that what they call peaking where you slide in but you don’t just swipe in
like you’re going back you slide in a little yeah then you keep going but it’s
just you never know what you’re gonna get how can you do that and so there are
– it’s just like we need to just commit to it and say this is now the system
back gesture we don’t have other commands that do that if you want to
open the navigation drawer you can tap this or slide them it maybe have a slide
at the top to open the drawer and a slide from the bottom to go back or
something like that something that’s very discreet and you know it’s either
or it’s not kind of in between right right and it gets even more muddled
Google actually went and added a setting if you kind of dig through Android
settings for the back gesture sensitivity so you can adjust and say
you know I want open my afterwards more often and this
is so I’m gonna make it less sensitive but you shouldn’t have to do that the
basic you know system command and even with that it still doesn’t quite get you
that knowing for sure what you’re gonna get so Google needs to really commit to
it and say this is the new gesture where we’re gonna reserve this area of the
screen this kind of swiping is for androids back command and developers if
you want your apps to work on Android 10 you’re gonna have to not interfere with
that right any sense I don’t know obviously it’s very
premature but is there any any sense at all that with Android 11 we might get
revamped gestures again it’s make three in a row okay there’s no way to know
right you never know you never know I’m I’m sure they’ll refine it hopefully
they won’t reinvent the wheel again but it’s Google I mean how many times have
we seen in the past were something they’re all in on something and then
surely they’re not it’s gone deleted so yeah you never know
okay any any final gestures you’d like to offer Google before we let you go
well I won’t do one that would get us okay no it’s really not that bad I know
the whole system has come a long way I think it just needs a little more
refinement probably that ideally should have been done before this came out but
still maybe 10.1 well we’ll have the answer and we’ll clean things up a
little it’s tough because their Android is an open ecosystem there’s so many
people players every manufacturer kind of does their own take on it of course
like with iOS or a lot of apps out there but a certain point Google’s gotta kind
of stand up and take control and say this is how we’re doing it everybody
needs to get in line you know much we talk about borrowing a page from Apple’s
playbook Apple certainly is it and you you will you will work with our system
as we’ve got it and or you won’t yeah which case your app won’t work right
there’s probably a happy medium between those two but Google needs to get a
little more firm and get developers commitment we’re looking for at Google
when it comes to gestures commit great ok thank you so much for the details now
I do understand kind of what’s going on in the Android world with gestures it
sounds like as with everything practice will make perfect give it a week if
you’re new to Android 10 and see how it goes
thanks to you I appreciate it yeah thanks for you again if you’re watching
us on YouTube just a reminder to please subscribe to the channel if you’ve got
questions or even comments leave them in the comments feel
below we’ll take a look and see if we can answer them and in the meantime for
now that’s a wrap thanks jr. thanks

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