Google has been phasing out support for navigation buttons in recent versions of Android, and instead prioritizing gesture-based navigation. Now it looks like gestures are coming to Chrome OS.

The folks at Android Police discovered that Chrome OS 80 beta, which began rolling out a few days ago, includes optional support for Android 10-style gestures.

When enabled, you can:

  • Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to return home.
  • Swipe up and hold to view currently running apps (including Google Chrome, which only seems to get a single listing, even if you have multiple tabs open).
  • Swipe from the left or right side of the screen to go back.
  • Make a quick, short swipe up from the bottom to see just the app dock.

That last one is unique to Chrome OS, since there’s no equivalent feature in Android.

You do have to enable the modular shelf flag from the chrome://flags screen in order to use gestures. And Android Police notes that some web apps and Android apps don’t seem to play well with the feature yet, so it’s probably a good thing that it’s hidden behind a flag for now.

All of this is also probably useless for Chromebooks that don’t have touchscreen displays. But there are a growing number of Chrome OS tablets and touchscreen convertibles. A move to make Chrome OS behave more like Android on those devices doesn’t inherently seem like a bad thing.

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4 replies on “Google is bringing gesture navigation to Chrome OS”

  1. Am I apparently the only one that doesn’t like gesture navigation? I have yet to use it on Android. What gesture navigation features there are on Chrome OS already are some of the first things I disable.

    1. No. I don’t find gesture navigation all that appealing and have not really liked it when I’ve used it. I liked the android buttons from the beginning as they made a lot of sense to me and seemed very clear. That simplicity comes at the cost of having to take multiple steps to do some things that might be possible with a single gesture. But that’s a trade off I’m willing to make. I often joke that tapping on the android software buttons is my favorite navigation gesture. As long as I get the option to have buttons, even with a separate launcher, which I already use, I’ll be happy.

      1. “Press the command stud while concentrating on the concept of lemons to right-click. Vanilla is left-click.”

      2. Gestures are great…. when done great.
        I have yet to use any system where it wasn’t bad in one way or another. I’ve had a concept for navigation which combined intuition/logic, with that of gestures and buttons, and it really seems like that’s as best as it gets. Maybe one day I’ll have the balls to implement it from my sketchbook into reality.

        But for the time being, I agree, gestures suck.

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