A quirky Android 11 bug is affecting an unknown number of users and devices and making multitasking nearly impossible. You’ll know you’re afflicted if swiping up on your Pixel device to summon its “Recents” screen, or the list of apps you’ve opened, accomplishes nothing.
The good news? Google knows about the issue and is working on a fix. That information doesn’t help you much now if you’re having trouble switching between apps on a bugged-out Android. Thankfully, there are a few workarounds you can try in order to alleviate—if not eliminate—this problem.
To start, try locking and unlocking your device. That might be all you have to do to get your list of recent apps working again. You’ll have to keep doing it every time you want to switch apps, but it’s the easiest fix in your toolkit. If that doesn’t work, try rebooting your Android to see if that offers a temporary reprieve from this irritation, or possibly even restarting it in safe mode and then reverting back to normal.
Otherwise, try switching to a different launcher to see if that will help mitigate the issue. Smart Launcher 5 is a solid choice, as is Nova Launcher; I’m pretty sure I used the latter on my first-ever Android device. (How far we’ve come.)
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There’s no guarantee that these fixes will take care of your recent-apps problem, but I wouldn’t advise any more drastic troubleshooting efforts. You’ll have to launch the apps you want to use out of Android’s app drawer instead—and you might want to switch to three-button navigation instead of gesture-based navigations to make doing so easier. But this is not a “factory-reset your phone and see if that helps”-level issue. Google should deploy its fix soon enough, though it’s surprising the bug made it into the final Android 11 release, given that users were already reporting it within the various pre-launch betas.