One of the most notable changes in Google Android 9 is the new gesture-based navigation system. You can swipe up from the home button to bring up a new overview screen showing recent apps or to bring up the app drawer and Google search bar from any screen.
There’s no more dedicated recents app. And the back button only appears when you need it.
But Google isn’t going all in on this new user interface just yet. If you upgrade from Android 8 or earlier then you’ll still see the old-school back, home, and recents buttons by default. You’ll have to manually enable the new gesture-based navigation.
In the future you may not have a choice though. Google’s EK Chung tells Android Central that future Google phones will only feature the new UI. Say goodbye recents button.
Google is expected to unveil its Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL smartphones in October, and it sounds like they’ll both feature gesture-based navigation by default. I wouldn’t be surprised if future Android One phones also use the new navigation system.
But Google isn’t requiring all third-party manufacturers to use the new system. Device manufacturers will have the option of shipping Android 9 devices with Android 8-style buttons if they choose. Or they could develop their own navigation system, which makes sense because there are a handful of companies that are already doing that, including Motorola and OnePlus.