Google hides OEM navigation systems on Android, can’t include in setup

Android Q Beta 4 Back Gesture

Google released Android 10 into the wild last month, and with it came a new gesture navigation system. These gestures have a few quirks here and there, but Google is all-in on the new controls. Not only that, the company is pressuring manufacturers to be all-in as well. Moving forward, it looks Google is forcing OEMs to hide their own navigation solutions deep in the device settings.

The latest Google Mobile Services (GMS) agreement (via 9to5Google) lays out the new gesture navigation system requirements OEMs have to abide by. The agreement states all future Android 10 devices using GMS will need to use either the classic three-button or the new gesture navigation system.

Even if OEMs ship devices with the gestures by default, they must make the three-button setup available for users to switch to if they want. Google strongly encourages devices previously using the pill navigation system to continue supporting it. It appears this is Google giving up on the Android Pie navigation solution, and this is only in place to help users transition more seamlessly.

Google previously said manufactures could still implement their own navigation systems at Google I/O 2019. It also said OEMs would need to include the new Android 10 gestures and three-button setup alongside their own implementations.

Related: What to expect from the October 15 Made By Google event

The updated GMS agreement doesn’t contradict this, but it puts into perspective what Google really meant. Manufacturers can still include their own navigation solutions, but those solutions aren’t to be immediately available to the users during the setup wizard. Users must go into the device settings to toggle alternative navigation systems after the initial setup.

Not only are OEM-specific navigation systems not allowed during setup, but manufacturers can’t even prompt users to use them in any way. No notifications. No pop-ups. Nothing.

To top this off, Google is even requiring OEMs to hide their own navigation systems deeper into the settings. Manufacturers can put these settings under new sections like “advanced” or something similar, but they won’t be easily accessible to the user.

This isn’t necessarily a bad call by Google. More uniformity throughout the Android ecosystem can only be a good thing. The gestures will mature quicker, apps will be forced to adhere to the new navigation systems, and users will get used to it more easily.

What do you think? Is this a good thing? Do you think Google is handling this properly? Or do you think telling OEMs that they will be able to include their own navigation systems only to bury them in the settings is a little deceitful? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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