Google Might Get Rid of the Back Button in Android Q

When Google released Android Pie last year, it introduced a new gesture-based navigation system that let you tap on a pill-shaped button to go home, swipe up on the pill to visit multitasking, and tap a button to go back. That last button isn’t always sitting in your navigation bar. In fact, it only shows up when you’re inside an app other than the Pixel Launcher. But now, it looks like the button might be going away entirely with the next version of Android.

According to XDA-Developers, Google will be getting rid of the back button in Android Q entirely. The site quotes source code it’s been sifting through of a leaked, early build of Android Q. And as it turns out, there’s enough evidence to suggest Google will be terminating the button later this year.

So what will replace the back button if it goes away? Simple: another gesture. XDA says instead of tapping a back button to go back, you’ll swipe to the left. So if this rumor turns out to be true, here’s how Android Q’s gesture system should work.

  • Tap pill button: go home
  • Swipe up on pill: visit multitasking
  • Swipe left on pill: go back
  • Swipe right on pill: switch between apps

That definitely sounds a bit confusing, especially if you’re used to a simple three-button navigation system. Then again, Google isn’t taking as drastic a measure as other companies like Apple and OnePlus took with their navigation systems which both involve a series of differently timed swipes and gestures. Of course, we’re still not sure whether Google will even ditch the back button in Android Q just yet, so be sure to stay tuned for follow-ups on this topic.