Google Maps Redesigned Full Bottom Bar Navigation


One of the well-documented side-effects of Android 10’s full gesture navigation is a conflict with navigation drawers. The back gesture makes it difficult to open the drawer by swiping from the left side of the display. You basically have to retrain yourself to tap the hamburger icon or use the awkward press and pause gesture. Moving the navigation elements out of the drawer makes sense with gestures, and now Google Maps is testing just that.




Over the past day, some users have received a starkly different Google Maps layout on Android. Gone is the hamburger button to the left of the search field, and in our two new tabs for the bottom bar.




Google has moved several navigation drawer items to the profile switcher. Below your list of accounts and the ability to turn on incognito mode are “Your timeline,” “Location sharing,” “Offline maps,” and “Settings.” This comes as Google Photos this week moved its backup status indicator to the account page.

For primary navigation, “Explore” and “Commute” remain, while “For you” looks to now be called “Latest” with the same red notification/updates badge. New is “Places” and “Post.” The former used to be in the nav drawer and is now easier to access, while the latter lets Local Guides contribute reviews, photos, and more. Google’s crowdsource program sees quite an elevation in importance with this bottom bar redesign of Maps.

This is clearly the direction for Google apps in response to gesture navigation — and how the swipe to reveal drawers action is now frequently interpreted as back/return. The trend of placing more functionality in the account switcher is also fairly recent but makes for a rather long list.

It’s arguably more elegant than just moving what doesn’t fit in the bottom bar to a “More” tab (like the Google app), but splitting sections — and having users look in multiple places — is equally confusing. Today’s Maps change is not yet widely rolled out, and will likely see more rounds of tweaking before then.
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