What was supposed to be an otherwise uneventful Android Developers Blog post has taken an unexpected twist as Google has inadvertently unveiled what could be the new navigation bar in the final release of Android P. Today, the company published a blog post about the “DNS-over-TLS” feature that is available in the first Android P Developer Preview (and was covered by us before its release.) However, when showing off the new feature, Google accidentally took a screenshot from a device that seems to be running the second Android P Developer Preview. That screenshot has since been taken down, but we have saved the image because it contains a revamped navigation bar that hints at iPhone X style navigation gestures.
In the first image below, you can see the standard navigation bar on the Google Pixel 2 XL running the first Android P Developer Preview. Below that is the navigation bar cropped from the now-deleted screenshot posted to the Android Developers Blog. We know that the now-deleted screenshot was from a device running the P release because of the location of the clock in the status bar (left-justified rather than right.)
The difference is obvious: the recent apps button is missing and the home button is now a pill-box like on the iPhone X. The back button is still there, but it isn’t reminiscent of the Google Pixel’s style of filled-in navigation bar buttons. According to Stephen Hall from 9to5, this is because the back button is only shown contextually. It could also be that this back button is only being shown during internal testing for Googlers and may not be present in the public release.
We don’t have much information to share beyond this screenshot at this time. We have searched for public evidence of gesture navigation in the past, but Google has done a good job hiding the code from the public release of Android P DP1. But with this screenshot, the cat is out of the bag, so now we just have to wait for Google to officially confirm it. Hopefully, we’ll learn more at Google I/O.