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Android 12 DP2 debuts previously hidden 'swipe for notifications' feature


Another hidden feature previously spotted in-development for Android 12 has trickled out in DP2, though it may not be available or work for everyone. It also conflicts with the brand new one-handed mode, but there’s a new option in Android 12 DP2 to allow a swipe down on the gesture area to pull down the notification shade.

Again, details regarding this feature vary, perhaps even from device to device, and the setting that controls it seems to be a bit buggy. Of course, DP2 is a Developer Preview, which is still very near an alpha, so irregularities like these are to be expected.

 

On some devices running Android 12 DP2, like the Pixel 5, there is a new “swipe for notifications” section in Settings -> System -> Gestures. In it is a new toggle that controls the self-titled setting. For now, the new setting has what seems to be a placeholder animation illustrating a swipe of the rear fingerprint sensor from the similar “swipe fingerprint for notifications” setting, but the text for the toggle illuminates the expected functionality: “Swipe down on the bottom edge of the screen to show your notifications.”

Here is where things start to become inconsistent: This new setting isn’t appearing for everyone. It’s there, working, and fully interactable for one of us at AP running DP2 on a Pixel 5. On my Pixel 4a 5G, the feature works, and I can see where the controls for it live in settings, but I can’t actually open it to access the toggle, and tapping it does nothing. And for one of us on a Pixel 4, the option isn’t there at all.

But for those of us that do have it, it works:

One swipe to access notifications from any screen. 

The feature is sort of similar to the Pixel-exclusive feature that rolled out back in 2019, allowing you to swipe down on the launcher anywhere to pull down the notification shade — itself a feature likely cherry-picked from many third-party launchers. But, this feature works anywhere, not just in the launcher. And though our examples show it working with gesture navigation (objectively the superior method), it also works with the legacy three-button navigation mode.

The last thing we should point out is that this feature explicitly interferes with the new one-handed mode that also debuted with DP2. You can’t have both enabled and working simultaneously since they both require the same gesture to trigger. It’s even possible that this buggy overlap could be to blame for some of the inconsistencies we noted earlier.

This new swipe for notifications feature was originally spotted in-development back with DP1, and it looks like it’s closer to availability with DP2. We don’t know if the inconsistencies we noted are bugs — anecdotally, DP2 is a little buggier for us than DP1 was — or if certain devices won’t get the feature when it does debut. It seems a little odd that Google would be playing with two different features that both use exactly the same gesture to work, but we’re still months away from Android 12’s release. All this could be subject to change, and feature cuts during previews are common.

For more about Android 12, check out our ongoing series coverage here, or bookmark our regularly updated changelog and check back in later. If you want to install the developer preview on your own device, find out how in our Android 12 download guide.

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