A hot potato: Google is dropping support for something other than the headphone jack this time around. It's the back button used for navigation on Android that is getting the ax. Android users may have to learn a few new gestures with the release of Android Q.

Gesture navigation has grown in popularity due to the fact that it does not take up as much screen real estate as dedicated buttons. Android 9 Pie brought about the pill icon and pseudo-gesture navigation scheme. For Android Q, Google may be going for full gesture navigation and eliminating the back button.

Over at XDA Developers, there has been code changes discovered that indicate a back button could be gone with the next major release of Android. As a disclaimer, the changes are part of a pre-release build that does not guarantee any changes will make it to a released version, but past history has shown that major aspects of the OS such as navigation are rarely changed before final release.


Instead of having the back button on the left side of the pill-shaped home button, a swipe left will replace that functionality. There are some theories that Google may have just been afraid of making too many changes too quickly to Android Pie. Instead of going all in on gesture navigation right away and ditching the three button setup, we were left with the strange hybrid navigation on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. Going forward, Google might be making it the fluid experience that was originally intended.

Getting used to a new navigation style may be difficult for some, but it should be a pretty natural change for those that have used the Pixel launcher. Other manufacturers aside from Google will likely come up with their own variants of gesture navigation, but that may not be a bad thing. After all, if you do not like the original set of gestures, installing a new launcher can likely remedy the situation.


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