Yesterday, reports from 9to5 Google says that as per the updated Google Mobile Services (GMS) agreement. Per the new terms, OEMs who utilize their own gesture navigation systems cannot have those available in the device’s initial setup if it ships with Android 10.
Google has struggled to devise a new navigation system for Android over the last few releases. The two-button design from Pie is not liked much in the market, and the new full-gesture setup in Android 10 also has its critics. However, with the new agreement, you will see a lot of Google’s gestures in the upcoming new Android 10 devices.
At this year’s Google I/O 2019, the company announced that it would support the new gestures and the three-button navbar going forward. It didn’t rule out OEMs having their own custom gesture navigation and will indeed let them keep those, but there will be some restrictions. Notably, devices shipping with Android 10 will need to have either classic three-button nav or Google’s gesture navigation enabled out of the box. This makes it sound like the two-button “pill” setup will be effectively dead.
Android 10 devices will not offer custom navigation in the initial setup
Phones often let users choose their navigation options during setup, but Android 10 will not offer custom gesture navigation as an option in the setup wizard at all. So, you’ll probably be able to turn on Google’s gestures, but something like Samsung’s swipe-up targets (see below image) will only be available if you dig into the settings.
Source: 9to5 Google
Hence, the updated Google Mobile Services agreement puts into perspective what Google really wants for Android users. 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 or any other way.
Also, Google also requires OEMs to hide their custom navigation systems deeper into the settings. Manufacturers can put these settings under new sections like “advanced” or something similar, not 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.
Google Mobile Services requires new Android devices compatible with Type-C ports
The new Google Mobile Services agreement also outlines the technical requirements that smartphone device makers must meet in order to preload Google Mobile Services. Nearly every Android smartphone or tablet sold internationally have met these requirements because having access to Google apps is critical for sales outside of China. A subsection 13.6 of this document is titled “USB Type-C Compatibility” which states:
“New DEVICES launching from 2019 onwards, with a USB Type-C port MUST ensure full interoperability with chargers that are compliant with the USB specifications and have the USB Type-C plug.”
On Reddit, this news has got significant traction and Android users are discussing that this move by Google is good only if the gesture usage works well. Here are some of the comments, “Im sure people will hate this, but im for easier usage for the general public.” Another user responds, “Sure. As long as the gesture usage works really, really well. If it doesn’t, this is a bad move.”