Android Q nerfs gesture navigation if you use a third-party launcher
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Google is gearing up to release the 10th version of its OS, still codenamed Android Q. The successor to Android 9.0 Pie is currently at Beta 5 with developers and fans currently testing it on their devices. While the OS update introduces a system-wide dark mode among other refinements, the latest beta removes the option of having gesture navigation controls enabled with a third-party launcher. Credit goes to u/Charizarlslie on this Reddit post for posting the screenshots showing the change.
Currently, Pixel smartphones running Android 9.0 Pie allow you to switch between navigation button styles regardless of what launcher you have set as the default. In practice, this means that you can switch to third-party options like Nova Launcher or the Microsoft Launcher while retaining the option of using traditional navigation buttons or the single pill gesture button. Beta 5 removes this, with the OS notifying you that it has updated the system navigation style if you switch to a third-party launcher. As the screenshot below shows, Android Q then greys out the option to select gesture navigation from within Settings, leaving only 2 and 3-button navigation instead.
It remains to be seen how other OEMs will integrate this functionality within their customised versions of Android Q, like Samsung and OneUI or Xiaomi and MIUI. Regardless, it is a worrying sign that Google is gradually moving towards a more closed ecosystem, forcing people to use their services if they want to experience some parts of the OS. The Pixel Launcher may be an intuitive launcher in our opinion, but it does not excuse limiting choice for the sake of doing so. Fundamentally, that seems the antithesis of what Android was meant to be.