[Update: Available via flag] Google Chrome for Android may get Chrome OS-like history gestures
November 26, 2018:
Smartphones keep getting taller which is why we’ve seen so many device manufacturers adopt gesture navigation features. Depending on the implementation, gestures can make one-handed use of smartphones easier than the standard three-button navigation bar layout. While gesture controls are available on basically every Android Pie device (save for the Sony Xperia line), Android apps have quietly been playing around with in-app gestures to the extent that they’re able to do so. The next Android app to start testing gestures seems to be Google Chrome, at least for navigating the browsing history.
The default web browser on most Android devices may soon let users navigate backward and forward between pages with a simple left and right swipe on the page, respectively. This feature has already been present in Chrome OS and macOS for quite some time, but Googlers are considering bringing it over to Android. As spotted by Chrome Story, a recent commit implies adding a gesture navigation system for browsing through the user history in the Chrome browser on Android.
There’s also another commit explaining how to enable the feature. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the chrome://flags settings page by now. When this feature ships, there will be a new ‘gesture-nav’ flag. The feature, if the commits are merged, will make it to the Chrome Canary channel first.
Adding left-right swipe gestures for navigating backward and forward will make one-handed use of the browser even easier. We’ll keep an eye out on upcoming updates of Google Chrome to let you know if or when the update goes live. The download link for the canary channel (the version which will receive the feature first) is available below.
Update: Available via flag
The swipe gesture can be enabled with a flag on the Dev and Canary channels. It works the same as Chrome OS’ navigation gestures: simply pull from the left to go back and pull from the right to go forward. It works really well and we should see it in the next major update for Chrome for Android. The flag is called “Overscroll history navigation.” Go to chrome://flags/#overscroll-history-nagivation to enabled it.