Swiped: How Gestures Have Compromised Customization on Android

Omar Zahran
7 min readMay 8, 2020
Samsung Galaxy S20 phones in all colors available
Image Credit: Daniel Romero via Unsplash

As someone is a self-proclaimed phone nerd, one of my favorite things on the internet is the fight of Android vs iOS. Two passionate fan bases that firmly believe that their platform is superior to the other and that anyone that would dare use the other platform is downright inferior. We see this with Apple users mocking Android users for their green bubbles on iMessage and Android users mocking iPhone users for having a lack of hardware options and lagging on features that always come to Android first.

One of the pillars of the argument against iPhone users that Android fans have always relied on has been the lack of customization present in iOS. The grid of icons that are not moveable and gridlocked. How widgets can only be placed on the far left screen of the iPhone home screen. And of course how an Android phone can allow the use of a third-party launcher to completely change the look of the entire home screen, where an iPhone simply cannot. One of the pillars of this customization argument has been the ability to allow the use of third party launcher applications such as Lawnchair and Nova Launcher. However, with the introduction of Android 10’s navigation gestures, it seems that the leverage of Android’s customization superiority might be eroding.

Image of Google Pixel 4 in a case
Image Credit: Daniel Romero via Unsplash

The Glory Years of the Launcher

A few years ago, Nova Launcher was everywhere. Almost anyone I knew that had very little knowledge of Android and phones, in general, was using the launcher. When I asked why they were using it, the answer was usually along the lines that they read an article after getting their new Samsung or HTC phone that using Nova Launcher would make the phone faster. And at that time, this was the case. Nova, in particular, was being updated at a rapid pace through the Play Store whereas TouchWiz or HTC Sense at the time needed to be updated through software updates.

In addition to better software support, a deluge of creative launchers came into existence that changed the way that a phone can look. With something as simple as installing an app, a user could make their Samsung device…

Omar Zahran

Freelance sports writer, check out all my work at deepcoversports.com