During the evolution of Android we have gone from the physical buttons of the first terminals (that old HTC Desire with dedicated buttons for Home, Menu, return and search), going through the touch buttons that until not long ago some terminals still looked (without further afield, Samsung’s Galaxy S7 range) to the virtual keypads that have been the norm in most devices from Android 4.0 onwards. And today the trend is being reversed: the arrival of Android 10 will mean navigation by gestures activated by default, although the current button bar that most users have on our devices can continue to be used by those who do not want to change (or find it too confusing).
What cannot be denied in any way is that gestural navigation is the future, and the terminals that have chosen to include it from one or two generations to this part have proven to be right in their approach. Do you want to deactivate the virtual keypad of your terminal and start using gestures to move around your phone? Well, we will tell you how to do it and, as almost always, there are several methods available.
Hide The Virtual Keypad Natively
Some manufacturers like Xiaomi offer the user the possibility to hide the virtual buttons without installing anything. So we will also activate gesture navigation by default, and for this, we will have to follow a series of simple steps. First, go to the path Settings> Fullscreen (or similar)
Once there, click on the option Full-screen gestures (or similar) to deactivate the virtual keypad in your terminal. You will see a small tutorial that will teach you what gestures you can perform to move around your phone, and when it is finished you can start enjoying a terminal without virtual buttons.
Hide the virtual keypad with an application
If, on the other hand, your phone does not have native support to hide the virtual buttons, you can always go to an application that does the same function. In this case, we are going to recommend Navigation Gestures, developed by XDA Developers. In case you don’t know the guys at XDA, they are the most important Android developer community on the Internet and the reference portal for everything to do with ROMs, aftermarket tricks and much, much more.
It is worth mentioning that in this case (and in that of the other applications with similar functionality) the option to install and run does not help us: once we have the application, we will have to enter a command through ADB. Said like this it may seem extremely complicated, but it is not. You don’t even need to have root permissions to be able to carry out this operation.
But let’s go step by step: what exactly is ADB? Well, to summarize it quickly, it is a tool that allows us to interact with our smartphone from a PC. With it, we can copy files to our phone, install applications and even play with parts of the terminal that a priori is forbidden to us.
And how is it activated? Well, first of all, you have to have the developer options enabled on your device. To do this, go to the path Settings> About phone (the complete path may vary depending on the terminal, the model and the manufacturer) and click repeatedly on the build number until a message appears stating that you are already a developer. Get out of that route and again in the settings, look for Developer Options. Enter them and activate USB debugging to complete the first part of the process.
We now go to the second part. If we had prepared this guide a few years ago we would have discussed the process of downloading and fine-tuning the Android SDK, but today this has been greatly simplified. Simply download and install an application called Minimal ADB and Fastboot Tool which, when run, will open a terminal where you can start executing ADB commands. And now we can start operating.
First of all, make sure ADB recognizes your phone. Before opening the tool, connect your terminal to the computer with the aforementioned USB debugging enabled. Then open the tool; A command prompt window will appear like this.
If you now unlock your terminal, you should see a message on the screen asking you to authorize your computer to communicate with your phone. Click Yes and let the process continue. If everything has gone well, the screen should return an alphanumeric code that, curiously, corresponds to the code that the manufacturer of your terminal uses to identify the series of which it is part; like this one here.
Once you have entered the code, you will be able to open the application to hide the virtual keypad, learn what gestures you can use to navigate and even customize your own.