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How to open side menus in Android 10 w/ gesture navigation

Gesture navigation is one of the biggest new features in Android 10, but it comes with some radical shifts to how we use the operating system. One interaction users are still trying to learn with the Android 10 gesture system is opening side, or hamburger, menus in applications. Here are a couple of ways to do that.

With Android 10’s new gestures, a swipe inward from either side of the display will trigger the back action. That’s bad news for side hamburger menus in applications, as the back gesture will often take users out of the application instead of opening up that menu.

Google has already explained that the back action is a core part of Android and is used even more often than the home action, so assigning an intuitive and reliable gesture was crucial for this system. Many longtime Android users disagree, but Google says the vast majority of Android users didn’t even know a swipe could open up side menus as most would simply tap a button within the app.

Luckily, there are still ways to open side hamburger menus in Android 10.

Opening Android 10 side menus with ‘peeking’

The first way to open up a side menu in Android 10 is with an action called “peeking.” This was first added in a previous beta of Android Q and, at the time, wasn’t super reliable. In the final rollout of Android 10, though, this behavior does help make it a bit easier to open up side menus.

A long-press on the side of the display where a side menu resides should trigger the peeking behavior. After roughly a second, the menu will slightly emerge and give you the opportunity to fully slide it out. This is still a bit tricky to master, but once you’ve practiced it a handful of times, it makes opening side menus without tapping the top button a lot less frustrating.

android 10 peeking side menu

Opening Android 10 side menus with an angled swipe

Another behavior that Google has never officially acknowledged is the ability to open these menus with a swipe downward at a 45-degree angle. We previously detailed this motion in a video back when gestures were first released in beta, and the gesture has only become more reliable in this final build.

A swipe at a roughly 45-degree angle on any app with a side hamburger menu will open up that menu while using Android 10’s gesture navigation. Again, this one can take some time to master, but once learned it feels relatively natural and works well.

android 10 angle swipe for hamburger side menus

Of course, you can always just tap the side menu button at the top of the screen for a guaranteed way to open up a side menu in Android 10.

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