Anyone that has used an Android device in the past is more than likely familiar with the three button navigation system. It’s been there since Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Over the years, these software navigation buttons have been refined to look different and do more. For instance, double-tapping the recents button on newer versions Android lets you quickly switch between your two most recent apps. With Android 9.0 Pie though, Google introduced a new way to navigate, using gestures. While it is optional for everyone else, the new navigation gestures are the default and only way to navigate on the Google Pixel 3. Fortunately, there’s a way to disable it.
Android 9.0 Navigation Gestures
The omnipresent three navigation buttons at the bottom of your screen are now gone on the Pixel 3. They’re replaced by a pill-shaped home button and a back button that only shows up when you’re not on the home screen. There is no dedicated button to access your recents screen anymore.
A swipe up on the home button brings up a newly-designed Overview (iOS-like), which shows users full-screen previews of recently used apps. You can actually copy and paste stuff between different apps this way without switching to one in particular but that feature is yet to see the light of the day.
Swipe up longer and you can access your app drawer. This effectively kills the need for a square recent apps button. The back button is only available when you have an app open. This leaves you with just a narrow, pill-shaped home button at the bottom of your home screen. To access your most recent apps simply consider the home button a scrollbar. That is, drag it towards the right. If you flick it towards the right you can quickly switch between your two most recent apps.
This new overview screen is baked into the Pixel launcher though and isn’t a part of the system UI. This is why OnePlus 6 users running Android Pie don’t get the dock and the search bar in the overview screen despite enabling Android Pie navigation gestures. For them, we wrote a tutorial to get the Android Pie overview screen on the OnePlus 6. If you disable the new navigation gestures on the Google Pixel 3 though, you’ll also lose the new recents/overview screen. Because this involved removing the Pixel launcher which is what powers the new recents screen.
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- First of all, before you uninstall the Pixel Launcher, you’d have to install another launcher. You wouldn’t want to be left without an app launcher.
- You’ll also need to set up ADB and Fastboot on your PC. We have dedicated, detailed guides on how to do just that for all the three platforms. You can check them out by following the links below.
- Enable USB debugging on your phone.
How to Disable Gesture Navigation on Pixel 3 Without Root
- Connect your Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL to the PC and launch a command prompt window in the adb folder. Linux users can simply launch a terminal window anywhere. If this your first time using ADB from this computer, you’ll be asked to grant USB Debugging permissions to the computer on your phone. If not, just enter the following command to trigger it.
- Now enter this command to connect to the adb shell.
If you’re using Windows Powershell, you’ll have to enter .\ before the command.
Similarly, macOS and Linux users may need to enter ./ before the command.
- Now uninstall the Pixel Launcher using the following adb command.
pm uninstall -k --user 0 com.google.android.apps.nexuslauncher
- To enable the three button navigation bar, use this command next.
settings put secure system_navigation_keys_enabled 1
- Reboot your Pixel 3 now with this command.
When your device boots back up, you should see the three navigation buttons at the bottom. Tapping on the recents screen should take you to the old vertical recents screen layout as well. You can re-enable the gesture navigations and the new recents screen by sideloading the Pixel Launcher APK from APKMirror. Once installed, just reboot your device and it will fix the crashing.