March 2, 2024

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Launching a circle to search using gesture navigation is extremely frustrating

Launching a circle to search using gesture navigation is extremely frustrating

Circle to Search is great β€” and very much a continuation of the Now on Tap program that Google should have kept prominently as the core Android experience instead of moving to Assistant for a few years β€” but how it works with gesture navigation drives me crazy.

I had questions when I discovered that you turned on Circle to Search by holding down the gesture navigation bar. This handle, although wide, is very short. How could this be a good touch goal?

After using it for a long time, I don't actually miss the general area of ​​the gesture bar, but I accidentally trigger the Recents menu all the time. It feels like my thumb is pulling up from the bottom of the screen (by what must be millimeters) before I start holding down, but that's enough to start taking me out of the app and into multitasking.

The swipe up gesture is ingrained in modern Android. Fortunately, I'm able to undo it, but it's annoying how often this happens.

Circle to Search seems to have been designed for an era where three-button navigation has become the norm, and it's still the default on Samsung devices. (Even there, I find it surprising that Google decided that the search circuit included replacing the home button press for the Assistant. It seems like a shocking behavioral change that speaks to how the voice assistant's status has declined.)

My preferred solution at this point is to assign one of the diagonal swipes to Circle to Search, while keeping the other reserved for Assistant. I've always loved this gesture, but Google never seems to talk about it. The company instead wants to launch Assistant by holding down the power button or “Hey Google.” I'm not a fan of actually turning on the Assistant – Google should force bigger buttons if it wants to enforce this behavior.

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Other than that, CTS is still great, especially for transcribing text using optical character recognition. The actual experience is very fun from all the animations to flourishes like being able to tap on the search bar. It's just how you get there in the first place.

I hope I get used to launching it using gesture navigation, but I'm hoping Google will reconsider it since it's clear that Search Circle is here for the long term.

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