During yesterday’s I/O developer conference, Google provided us with a lot more information about Android Q, the company’s next-gen version of Android. Though Google rolled out the first developer beta of Android Q a few months back, Google yesterday unveiled a slew of previously undisclosed features Android users can look forward to.
Without question, one of the more intriguing new features Google added to Android Q centers on a host of new gestures that make the entire user experience much more seamless and intuitive. While Android users will undoubtedly see the gestures as a step forward, it’s hard to ignore the fact that some of Android Q’s new gestures were seemingly lifted straight from the iPhone X.
The most glaring example is the way Android Q allows users to leave an app and return to the home screen. Specifically, Android Q users can simply swipe up from the bottom of the screen — from whatever app they’re in — and return home. If it sounds familiar, it’s because Apple implemented the same exact gesture when it unveiled the iPhone X in 2017.
What’s more, Android Q implements a white horizontal bar at the bottom of the display to serve as a visual cue for users, another design Apple first introduced on the iPhone X. Now hopefully Apple will make the white horizontal bar something that can be toggled on and off, but that’s a whole another story.
Meanwhile, the multitasking pane can be activated by swiping up from the white line to the middle of the display, similar again to the iPhone X. These gestures can be seen in the video below, which was posted today by Beebom.
So are we to be outraged? Some prominent folks within the Apple community certainly are, with John Gruber of Daring Fireball noting the following:
They should have called it Android R for “rip-off”. This is the iPhone X interface. The shamelessness of this rip-off is staggering. Does Google have no pride? No sense of shame?
I can see where Gruber’s coming from, but, if I may play devil’s advocate for a second, this type of copying shouldn’t be a source of concern in a smartphone market that is now well over a decade old at this point. Think about it: it’s 2019 and it’s become something of an accepted fact that iOS and Android simply copy features from each other whenever possible. At the end of the day, end users are the one who win from iOS and Android stealing from one another.
Besides, there any number of examples where iOS has borrowed liberally from Android, with always-on “Hey Siri” functionality being one such example. Further, there were some Android features Google introduced yesterday I wouldn’t mind Apple stealing for iOS 13.
Now is there a difference between Apple copying specific features and Google copying a gesture framework that permeates throughout an OS? Of course. But if it’s any consolation, the new gestures Google unveiled yesterday aren’t on by default. Further, the key differences between flagship devices these days don’t have as much to do with gestures as they do with items like camera quality.