Android 14 is full of new features, and most are behind the scenes. A few years after Google gave our favorite smartphones a facelift with Material U, the last two upgrades have focused on upgrading elements you might not think about every day. Security, privacy, and speed are three aspects in which Android 14 and Android 13 excel, but they are not the only ones. A new addition to gestures may change the way you think about swiping between apps, but you need to activate predictive back gestures to see it in action.

What is predictive back navigation in Android 14?

The predicted back navigation dates back to the Android 13 beta period. It’s a simple concept that’s surprisingly complex behind the scenes. It took more than a year of testing to become a full version of Google’s operating system. The idea is simple. Instead of showing a back arrow when you swipe back in an application, predictive back gestures show you what you’ll return to before you finish swiping.

It aims to solve a problem that has been plaguing Android since before the company switched full-time to its current gesture system with Android 10 in 2019. Although the back gesture (or button, on older, legacy smartphones) is useful for returning to the previous screen in a flash, it can be confusing. Sometimes, the Back button sends you to a page you didn’t expect. Sometimes it sends you to your homescreen without any reason.

Predictable backstage gestures change that. When you swipe backward in an app that supports predictive animations, you’ll see what you’re about to enter, whether it’s another menu or your homescreen. It’s taken a long time for Google to get these ready for primetime, but in Android 14, they’re finally here for everyone to see.

How to Activate Predictive Back Animation on Android 14

By default, predictive back animations are turned off in Android 14. Or they were in the beta program, which is still active as we are preparing this guide. That doesn’t mean it’ll always be this way, but it’s clear that, between hiding the setting from view and it taking over a year to launch, these gestures are here to stay.

If you want to try out the future of gesture navigation on Android 14, here’s how to turn it on in Developer Settings.

  1. Get a smartphone or tablet running Android 14. We use screenshots from the Pixel 7a, but we’ve also tested it on a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra with One UI 6. The steps should be the same regardless of device. You also need to use gesture navigation.
  2. Open your Settings menu. If you haven’t activated developer options on your phone, you’ll need to do so.
  3. search about phone section of your Settings menu, then scroll down to find your build number.
  4. Tap your build number several times until a prompt alerts you that developer options have been unlocked.
  5. return to main Adjustment menu,
  6. choose Developer Options From this list. About phone menu on Pixel 7a The main system settings menu on the Pixel 7a, with developer options unlocked.
  7. Predictive back animations are off by default, but you can activate them from this list. find either predictable back animation Scroll through this list or to the bottom of the list. These are some options above the Autofill category.
  8. Toggle it, then tap Ok At the prompt. This warning alerts you that this feature only works with software where their respective developers have included a specific option in their app’s manifest file. Under developer options on the Pixel 7a, predictive back animations are turned off. A hint explaining the predictive back gesture on the Pixel 7a

And all! The Settings menu is a great example of predictive back gestures in action, as swiping back from this menu flashes a preview of what’s to come on the screen.

Which apps support predictive back gestures on Android?

A GIF that shows how predictive back gestures work when swiping between multiple apps before returning home

It’s early days for this tool, and few apps support it. We mentioned Android’s Settings menu, but because Google is the team behind Android, that doesn’t mean all or most of its apps have this option activated. Photos, Chrome, Wallet, and many others don’t support this animation, but you’ll see it in many system apps, including Phone and Clock.

Even a handful of third-party apps have activated it. For example, Spotify and Reddit both show a preview of the homescreen, preventing potential mis-swipes if you want to stay within the app. That said, one can’t show previous menus within the app, which is unlike Google’s Clock app. Look for this to change once Android 14 becomes widely adopted.

A huge leap forward for the back gesture on Android

It may seem small, but it’s a huge improvement in quality of life for Android. You’ll never swipe back again, only to realize you’ve been taken to your homescreen without any explanation. Predictive back navigation, once more apps adopt it, will likely be seen as one of the bigger changes found in Android 14, although only time will tell.