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Android 101: How to Optimize Your Multitasking Space



In Android 11, Google added new functionality to the multitasking area or recent apps view – that handy flow of thumbnails that lets you view all of your active apps and choose which ones to use.

Starting with Android 10, you could choose between three different ways to not only access your multitasking window, but also to navigate your home screen. These three methods are named appropriately for the types of buttons displayed at the bottom of the screen: gesture navigation, two-button navigation, and three-button navigation. In this article, I’ll explain how Android 11 added some interesting features to two of the three methods. But first, switch from one to the other as follows.

  • Swipe down from the top of the screen to access your app drawer and tap the setup icon (the gear in the lower right corner).
  • If you have Android 10, choose System> Gestures> System Navigation.
  • If you have Android 11, choose Accessibility> System Navigation.
  • Select either “Gesture Navigation”, “2-Button Navigation” or “3-Button Navigation”.

I have it? Here is the difference between the three methods including the one added for Android 11.

Gesture navigation

This is the “swipe” method introduced in Android 10 that Google seems to fear the most. In Android 10, you’ll see the search box and five icons at the bottom of the screen. In Android 11, you only see a single flat line at the bottom of the screen. Swipe up and hold the button and you’ll get the multitasking area with all of your apps open. You can then swipe from side to side to access it.

In either version, if you tap the icon at the top of the app page, a drop-down menu will appear that allows you to either access the app’s info page or open the app in a split-screen format. Depending on the app, you may also be able to access other functions. For example, if you’re playing a video, you can pause it from here too.

In Android 11, two links have been added under the multitasking area: Screenshot and Select. Tap Screenshot and you will get a screenshot of the app page you are currently viewing. Tap Select. All of the text on this app page is selected for you to copy, share, or search through.

2-button navigation

This will give you two icons at the bottom of the screen: a short, thick line that represents the home button and a back button on the left. Swipe up on the home button and you can access the same multitasking window using the drop-down menus accessible at the top of each app.

However, in Android 11, you don’t get the “Screenshot” / “Select” buttons below the windows. Instead, like in Android 10, you get a Google search box at the bottom of the screen with icons for five apps.

3-button navigation

This is the old-fashioned way of navigating with the Back, Home, and Switches for apps at the bottom of the display. Use the right “Switch Apps” icon to go to the multitasking area. You still have the dropdown menus above each app and in Android 11 the links “Screenshot” and “Select”.


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