The annual Android software version upgrade is still some time away, although if you’re an advanced user and don’t mind taking on the risks of incomplete and unstable software, you can upgrade to the developer preview of Android P on a Pixel smartphone already. For the rest of us, we’re still a few months away from receiving Android P on our smartphones, and indeed we don’t even know what it will be called yet. However, we now have at least a few indications of what to expect in the new operating system, including the fact that Android P will support gesture controls like the Apple iPhone X.
The design of the flagship Apple smartphone is such that there is no room left for the home button that has been synonymous with iPhones thus far. Therefore, Apple enabled gesture controls, where gestures from the bottom of the screen completed the functions that were previously controlled by the home button, such as going to the home screen, activating Siri or opening up the app switcher screen.
Android P will natively enable similar functionality, thereby allowing Android OEMs to do away with hardware and on-screen navigation keys and enable full-screen displays. The gesture controls will allow the back and app-switcher on-screen buttons to be hidden away, thereby allowing a more effective use of the full-screen display.
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It’s worth noting that many Android OEMs including OnePlus, Vivo and Oppo have already enabled similar implementations of gesture navigation in their recent smartphones even on the framework of Android Oreo, so this is nothing new to Android. However, enabling this functionality on the basic framework of Android P will mean that manufacturers don’t have to specifically develop such functionality on their UI overlays. Additionally, it’s a hint that such functionality will be present on the upcoming Google Pixel 3 and any future Android One devices, since those devices do not have manufacturer overlays and run on vanilla Android. Thus, the flagship Google Pixel device of 2018 could well have a full-screen display just like the Apple iPhone X.