Last year, in the initial releases of the Android 11 Developer Preview, we discovered that Google was developing a new double tap gesture for Pixel phones. Now it seems Google is working to bring the Columbus gesture back to Pixel phones with Android 12.

The gesture was given the codename “Columbus,” a reference to a character from the movie Zombieland and his famous “double-tap” rule. By default, this gesture is intended to be another easy way to get to the Google Assistant, but it was also able to be internally configured to various actions. We also found that it worked as a quick way to dismiss a timer or snooze an alarm.

At the time, we believed that this “Columbus” gesture would replace the “Active Edge” squeeze gesture that the Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a 5G, and Pixel 5 all lack. However, when Android 11 was fully released for Pixel phones, the Columbus double-tap was nowhere to be found.

According to information viewed by 9to5Google, Google is working to revive Columbus on Google Pixel phones with Android 12 as the “Double tap” gesture. By giving a quick double tap to the back of your phone, you’ll be able to do one of a small handful of things:

  • Activate the Google Assistant
  • Take a screenshot
  • Pause/resume media playback
  • Open the notification shade
  • Open the recent apps view

One bit of feedback we shared when Columbus first arrived in the Android 11 Developer Preview was that the gesture was a bit too sensitive. The new version coming with Android 12 allows you to adjust your phone to only recognize firm taps to the back. Or, like other gestures on Android and Pixel phones, the Columbus double tap can be disabled altogether.

The first Android 11 Developer Preview arrived in mid-February last year. If Android 12 follows that same pattern, we could only be a matter of weeks from getting our hands on the Double Tap gesture once more. That said, Columbus was unceremoniously removed from Android 11, and it’s still quite possible for it to be pulled from Android 12.

Dylan Roussel contributed to this article.

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Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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