Google ‘Android P’ Preview Screen Suggests Swipe Features

Google has inadvertently released a clue that its next Android smartphone software update may include navigation features similar to those in Apple’s iPhone X.

Android P, as the upcoming version of Android is currently known, is the successor to the current Android 8 “Oreo”, and is set for release later this year.

Google has already disclosed that the software will add standardised platform support for another iPhone X-inspired feature, the “notch” used by some newer all-screen Android devices, which allows the screen to wrap around front-facing sensors.

Some newer Android phones from the likes of Huawei and OnePlus have also added swipe navigation elements, which take the place of built-in buttons on all-screen devices.

Swipe navigation

Such methods were popularised by the all-screen iPhone X, where, for instance, users swipe partway up the screen to display their running apps, rather than pressing a button.

In a recent blog post on an unrelated Android P feature, Google included a screenshot in which no app switcher button is visible. The image follows earlier reports that the upcoming software may do away with the app switcher button in favour of an upward swipe, or at least build such an option into the platform.

Google edited the navigation elements out after the screenshot appeared in a report by the blog 9 to 5 Google.

The screenshot also shows a bar at the bottom of the screen that resembles the horizontal bar used in the iPhone X to indicate the “gesture area” of the screen.

The image also displays a back button beside the bar. Earlier rumours have suggested the back button might only appear when it’s needed, disappearing on the home screen, for instance.

Software updates

Google is expected to give more details on Android P at next month’s Google I/O conference, where it’s also expected to release a second developer preview of the software.

While new iOS features generally roll out quickly to most Apple devices, however, the features in new Android versions apply largely to new phones with the software built in.

As of February Google said only 1.1 percent of its overall Android installed base used 2017’s Android Oreo, with 28.5 percent on Android 7 Nougat, released in 2016, and another 28.1 percent using Android 6.0 Marshmallow, released the previous year.

A further 24.6 percent use Android Lollipop, released in 2014, Google said at the time.

A German security lab recently found that the rollout of security patches is also irregular, with most Android vendors regularly forgetting to provide some patches to their users.

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Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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