Android 14 is expected to introduce a significant change to gesture navigation, making it much simpler to comprehend where the back gesture will take you. This new method requires some effort on the part of app developers, so Google made the new back gesture official last year. With the release of Android 14 Developer Preview 2 this week, a few system apps now support the new back gesture, allowing anyone who installs the preview release on their Pixel phone to utilise the new predictive back gestures.
Once you’re running Android 14 DP2, you’ll need to enable predictive back gestures in the developer options before you can use predictive back gestures in the system settings and Google News. As its name suggests, this feature will display the next screen you will visit. This works for different sections within the same app, but it also indicates when the next step will take you to a different app or the home screen. In addition to the new predictive animation, Android 14 DP2 includes a redesigned back navigation arrow that resides in a Material You-themed bubble that stretches and moves when a user drags a finger from the edge of a screen.
It is evident that predictive back gestures are still in their infancy, despite the fact that the demos provided above make them appear to be quite robust. In Google News and system settings, the next screen isn’t always reliably activated, and when cancelling the back action by moving your finger back to the screen’s edge, we’ve occasionally encountered complete system crashes. The transition also does not work on all screens; the Google News search interface, for example, does not always display the next backward step.
Evidently, Google has a number of issues to resolve with predictive back gestures, but the company plans to release a number of updates before Android 14 is stable. Until then, the company will likely integrate predictive back gestures into more of its own apps and make them a standard part of the system. We can only hope the company actively encourages third-party developers to add support.