10 hidden tricks to get the most out of Android gestures

Using Android is definitely not what it used to be.

Google has made some serious changes to the Android navigation experience over the past few years, from the old-fashioned three-button setup to one early gesture pattern in Android 9, then the whole other New gesture system in Android 10 and finally some slightly tweaked versions of that same gesture model with Android 11, Android 12and more.

It’s enough to make anyone spin – and whether you’re a card-carrying Android junkie (hiya!) or someone just grudgingly trying to work out the details of the ever-evolving navigation system developed on your phone, there will almost certainly be more than you. might be doing to make the most of Android’s current gesture arrangement.

I’ve been obsessively fiddling with Android gestures for 642 years now, and along the way I’ve come across some pretty useful tricks to exploit their many layers and hidden capabilities. So warm up those tentacles of yours and do some gentle thumb stretches: Here are 10 Android gesture tips that will let you move around your phone like a pro. Karma.

(Note that these tips apply specifically to Google’s current Android gesture system – the gesture system included with Android 10 and later. Android version. It is identifiable by the thin line (not the pill-shaped button!) and the lack of any other icons along the bottom of the screen. Depending on your device, you may have to adjust your system settings to upgrade to this newer standard. Search your settings for “navigation” to find the option; on devices using something akin to Google’s version of Android, it will be called “System Navigation”, while on Samsung phones it will likely be “Navigation Type”.)

[Psst: Want even more advanced Android knowledge? Check out my free Android Shortcut Supercourse to learn tons of time-saving tricks for your phone.]

1. Mastering advanced app menu gestures

Okay, first things first: One of the the most annoying flaws with Android’s current gesture setup is how the popular Back gesture – where you swipe in from the left side of the screen – overlaps with other actions already available throughout the operating system.

The most common conflicts are with gestures to open drawer-style menus in apps, like what you see in Gmail or Google Drive. Google has created an awkward mechanism to distinguish between swipes for going back and swipes for opening the app menu, but it’s confusing, inconsistent, and generally too unpredictable. to rely on. Similarly, the system-level setting to adjust the sensitivity of the back-swipe gesture feels more like a clumsy Band-Aid than any kind of real solution.

So here is the better way: When you want to open the menu pane of an app, swipe down from the left side of the screen at an angle of 45 degrees. That will repeatedly pull up the app’s menu instead of triggering the Back command, as often happens when you swipe across in a horizontal line.

Android Gestures: App Drawer JR

Another option worth remembering: You can also swipe in from the left side of the screen with two fingers together to open the app’s menu all the time. Or, of course, you can simply tap the three-line menu icon in the upper-left corner of the app instead of swiping.

2. Remember that the Back gesture actually works in two places

If you’re like me, you can think of Android’s Back gesture as living on the left side of your screen – but don’t forget: You can swipe your finger on the word the right next to the screen too and get the exact same result.

Strange as it may seem on the surface, the idea is to make the Back gesture convenient and comfortable to access no matter how you want to hold your neighbor’s friendly phone. So if you’re right-handed, stop reaching for the entire device and try swiping in from the right side of the screen instead for an easier and more natural experience.

3. Don’t forget about General Assistant gestures

One of the most overlooked options in Google Android’s gesture setup is the command to open Assistant, which actually works from anywhere in the operating system – regardless of whether you’re on the home screen or elsewhere in your browser. application.

This gesture also works in two different ways: by swiping upwards diagonally from the bottom left corner of the screen, or by doing the same from the bottom right corner. The bottom left corner seems to be where I usually go by default, but I found it Commands to open Assistant are actually more consistent and easily accessible viathe right swiping up option in the corner.

Unlike its left-hand equivalent, the Assistant gesture on the right doesn’t overlap with other normal system actions (like the command to open that nasty app menu) and is essentially guaranteed to work. on your first try.

And if the swiping up in that corner doesn’t summon your Assistant at all, try searching for the word “swipe” in your system settings. On certain Android devices, you’ll see an option called “Swipe to call Assistant” and you may need to turn the side switch to the on position before the gesture will work.

4. Master the opening time of the Overview

Android gestures make the Overview screen – the area of ​​the software where you can see all of your recently used apps and move quickly between them – a little less accessible than the Android gestures. once upon a time. But Android’s Overview area is actually still pretty easy to pull up, if you take the time to practice and master the gestures involved.

The trick is swipe up in a straight line from the bottom of the screen, then stop and quickly lift your finger after about an inch – as illustrated here with Google’s Android 12 implementation:

Android Gestures: Open Overview JR

Not too difficult, right? If you practice it enough times, you’ll get a feel for exactly where you need to stop – and you’ll be able to open your Overview quickly and consistently without errors (or failures).

5. Tap the hidden swipe option of Overview

Remember yourself: When you’re in the Android Overview area, you can tap any app’s card to open it – or, in what I’ve seen, a quicker and more natural move than, you can swipe down on the card to complete the same thing. That way, you go from a quick swipe up to open Overview (and possibly a short swipe to find the card you want) to immediately another similar swipe.

6. Don’t overlook the overview’s ability to swipe another card

In addition to being able to swipe down on an app to open it from Overview, you can swipe upward on any Overview tab to remove it completely from view. Contrary to popular belief, there’s really no real performance-related benefit to doing that – this isn’t Windows we’re talking about, after all – but it could still be a way. satisfying to eliminate clutter and increase your efficiency, especially if you come across an app on your list that you know you’ll be back to soon.

7. Speed ​​through apps in Overview in secret way

Another hidden overview trick, at least on Pixel phones and other devices using Google’s own Android implementation (sorry, Samsung friends!): While viewing a list of used apps your recents, in addition to swiping directly along the cards, you can swipe along the bottom navigation bar to scroll through your apps and find the one you want. A light, short swipe moves left or right apps one by one – while a stronger swipe, longer Swiping (ooh, baby) will quickly move you from the top of the list to the bottom of the list.

Android Gestures: Swipe Overview JR

You can also achieve the same super-flying effect by swiping the cards hard we in that environment, if you will – and that environment will work on any Android phone, including those stubborn Galaxy devices.

8. Going home from Overview in a hurry

If you open the Overview screen and then decide Not to switch to another app, there’s a hidden shortcut to instantly return to your home screen: With Android 12, you can touch the empty area outside the card – to the right or below it.

Just make sure to bring your cursor down to the actual empty area, and avoid hitting any other commands in the area between the bottom of your card and the bottom of your screen, for what I hope are obvious reasons.

9. Smarter swiping between apps

If you ask me, one of Android’s most confusing gestures is the command to swipe in either direction on the bottom bar of the screen and move backward or forward in some sort of “app-continuous” presumption. It’s a concept borrowed directly from iOS and as usual With Apple’s public borrowings like that, it’s one of the worst parts of Google’s setup.

The problem is that no sane person can remember exactly what order their recently opened apps appeared in – and more often than not, you’ll be flipping blindly and hoping for the end. together you will get the application you want. It’s just not an efficient way to get around and it often ends up requiring you to go through some recent processes before finding the right one.

Here’s a smarter way to use that gesture: Instead of just swiping left or right on that bottom bar, swipe and move your finger up at the same time. That will let you see previews of apps in either direction and then make smart decisions about whether the app you want is actually there before opening it automatically – like like a combination of quick swipes and the full Overview interface.

Android Gestures: Swipe Up (Low) Apps JR

The higher you move your finger, the smaller the previews will appear and the more previews you’ll see at once:

Android Gestures: Swipe Up (tall) Apps JR

When you find the app you want in the list, simply slide your finger to the bottom of the screen – without lifting from the previous movement – to slide right into it.


10. Embrace Android’s ‘Alt-Tab’ Shortcut

Speaking of that bottom bar, that same area of ​​the Android gesture interface can really come in handy when you want to go directly back to the last app you used – something that, in fact, isn’t quite the same concept. that odd constant thought To be Pretty easy to follow in your mind.

All you have to do is Swipe the bottom bar of the screen to the right to open the most recently used you application. It will work whether you are in another app or on your home screen.

This is where things get a bit hectic, though: You’d think you could then swipe the bar to leave to get back to where you came from, right? Like some kind of back and forward command? Well, you can – but only for a very limited time. If you swiped to your most recent app and then want to get back to where you came from in about five or six seconds, you can swipe the bottom bar of the screen to the left to go back..

Android Gestures: App Flip JR

However, after a few seconds, that app will change position in that hellish puzzling sequence (it happens again!) and switch from the right your current application with it leave – it means If more than five or six seconds have passed, you will need to drag the bottom bar of the screen to the right return (oof).

It’s a bewildering system, no doubt, but once you understand that small difference, it’s easy to take advantage of and use sensibly.

And with that, my friend, congratulations: You’ve officially become a master of Android gestures. Well done, you are nimble little mammal. You deserve a swipe on the back.

Get even more advanced shortcut knowledge with my completely free Android Shortcut Supercourse. You will learn a lot of time-saving tricks for your phone!

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Fry Electronics Team

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