Google borrows iPhone X navigation system for Android

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Android P has a similar swipe-based navigation system as the iPhone X, and it supports screen cutouts.
Android P has a similar swipe-based navigation system as the iPhone X, and it supports screen cutouts.
Graphic: Google

Anyone who’s used an iPhone X already knows how to navigate around in the next version of Google’s mobile operating system. The company showed off Android P at its developer conference today, and it includes a touch bar at the bottom of the screen, just like Apple’s flagship phone.

Android P also natively supports screen cutouts, so device makers will be able to easily produce iPhone X clones.

The three buttons that have been at the bottom of Android screens for so very long are going away. They’re being replaced with a single oblong button.

As demonstrated at the Google I/O conference today, a tap on this button jumps to the home screen. Swipe up on it to open a list of running applications. Swipe to the right to jump through them directly.  

With just a variation or two, that’s how one navigates an iPhone X. And it’ll be even more widespread this fall, as Apple is reportedly going to leave the Home button off of all three 2018 iPhone models.

While it’s easy to accuse Google of copying Apple, anyone with a long memory should recall that Palm’s webOS used a very similar navigation system in the Palm Pre way back in 2009. That said, Android didn’t get around to adopting a swipe-based system until Apple had done so first.

“Quit copying me!”

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If that’s so, that Apple should feel very flattered.

But one can hardly blame Google. The iPhone X is the best selling smartphone in the world. Android has to do something to keep up.