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Launching Circle to Search with gesture nav is just frustrating

3 weeks ago 127

Circle to Search is great – and very much a continuation of Now on Tap that Google should have prominently maintained as a core Android experience instead of relegating to Assistant for a few years – but how you launch it with gesture navigation is driving me mad.

I had questions the moment I found out that you launched Circle to Search by holding down on the gesture nav bar. That handle, while wide, is just so short. How could that be a good touch target?

After using it for a good bit, I never physically miss the general area of the gesture bar, but I accidentally trigger the Recents menu all the time. It feels like my thumb is dragging up from the bottom of the screen (by what must be millimeters) before I start to hold down, but that’s enough to start bringing me out of the app and trigger multitasking.

That swipe up gesture is just so engrained on modern Android. Fortunately, I’m able to back out, but how often this still happens is annoying.

Circle to Search felt like it was built for an era where 3-button navigation is the norm, and it very much still is the default on Samsung devices. (Even there, I find it shocking that Google has decided that Circle to Search warrants replacing the home button press for Assistant. It feels like a shocking behavior change that speaks to how the voice assistant’s stature has fallen.)

My preferred solution at this point would be setting one of the diagonal swipes for Circle to Search, while the other remains reserved for Assistant. I’ve always liked this gesture, but it seems Google doesn’t and never talks about it. The company instead wants you to launch Assistant by holding down the power button or “Hey Google.” I’m not a fan of launching Assistant physically – Google should mandate bigger buttons if it wants to mandate this behavior. 

Otherwise, CTS continues to be great, especially for copying text with optical character recognition. The actual experience is quite delightful from all the animations to flourishes like being able to flick up the search bar. It’s just how you get to it in the first place.

Hopefully, I’ll get used to launching it using gesture nav, but I hope Google revisits it since Circle to Search is clearly here for the long haul. 

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