Android 15 may bring hybrid taskbar to Pixel Tablet and Pixel Fold

Remember Android 12L? Google dropped it way back in early 2022, finally giving large screens, such as tablets at the time, some love after ages spent focused on phones. One major change was the taskbar; it sat there, glued to the bottom of the screen, promising quick app switching and multitasking. Desktop computers have rocked that feature for years, so Android finally joining the party made perfect sense.But that first taskbar turned out to be rather clunky. An unmoving bar that hogged space at the bottom of the screen, whether you needed it or not. Sure, you could temporarily hide it, but by default, it was always visible and limited screen space on larger screen devices that were not as large as, say, a 14-inch tablet.

This changed when Android 13 QPR2 hit last year with a redesigned taskbar that, instead of always being there, was replaced by a pill-shaped bar that popped up after a quick swipe and then vanished after a few seconds. This new take debuted on Google’s Pixel Tablet and Fold, and with Android 14, it finally reached other big-screen devices.

Old taskbar vs new taskbar | Source: Android Authority

The new taskbar is definitely more user-friendly for most users, but heavy multitaskers may not feel the same way, as it takes more swipes and taps to get to where you want when the taskbar is not persistent. However, according to Mishaal Rahman of Android Authority, Google is working on a fix for that in an upcoming version of Android.

As found while going through the new features of Android 15 Developer Preview 2, the old style “always-there” taskbar is making a comeback; however, it has a new trick. Swipe the taskbar up, long-press that empty space, and a toggle labeled “always show taskbar” magically appears. Toggle that on, and the taskbar goes back to its classic look. Toggle that off, and the new floating style returns. It’s the best of both worlds, and it’s completely up to the user’s preference.

This is a very encouraging sign of things to come with Android 15, and the possibilities that it will bring if adopted by other OEMs are a big win for Android users globally. The potential for increased customization and personalization is exciting, and I am excited to see how it will continue to evolve in the future.

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