Google unveiled some of the new features in the next version of Android at its developer conference. One feature looked particularly familiar. Android P will get new navigation gestures to switch between apps. And it works just like the iPhone X.
“As part of Android P, we’re introducing a new system navigation that we’ve been working on for more than a year now,” VP of Android Engineering Dave Burke said. “And the new design makes Android multitasking more approachable and easier to understand.”
While Google has probably been working on a new multitasking screen for a year, it’s hard to believe that the company didn’t copy Apple. The iPhone X was unveiled in September 2017.
On Android P, the traditional home, back and multitasking buttons are gone. There’s a single pill-shaped button at the center of the screen. If you swipe up from this button, you get a new multitasking view with your most recent apps. You can swipe left and right and select the app you’re looking for.
If you swipe up one more time, you get the app drawer with suggested apps at the very top. At any time, you can tap on the button to go back to the home screen. These gestures also work when you’re using an app. Android P adds a back button in the bottom left corner if you’re in an app.
But the most shameless inspiration is the left and right gestures. If you swipe left and right on the pill-shaped button, you can switch to the next app, exactly like on the iPhone X. You can scrub through multiple apps. As soon as you release your finger, you’ll jump to the selected app.
You can get Android P beta for a handful of devices starting today. End users will get the new version in the coming months.
It’s hard to blame Google with this one as the iPhone X gestures are incredibly elegant and efficient — and yes, it looks a lot like the Palm Pre. Using a phone that runs the current version of Android after using the iPhone X is much slower as it requires multiple taps to switch to the most recent app.
Apple moved the needle and it’s clear that all smartphones should work like the iPhone X. But Google still deserves to be called out.