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Add Physical Shortcut Button to Your Android Phone or Tablet

How often we wish that there is a shortcut key to certain apps or to toggle some settings. When you are in need of flashlight, finding the app, wait it to load, turn it on will be very slow. How nice it would be if we can access it by one click? When there’s a problem, someone will definitely come up with solutions. These are some neat and interesting solutions. Read more to find out!

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Pressy

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Pressy-The Almighty Android Button is Kickstarter  project that was launched in August 2013. In end of the campaign, a total of USD $695,138 was raised, which was a lot more than the $40,000 goal they set. The success was driven by the simplicity of the idea. Pressy is a button that you can insert into your 3.5mm headphone jack. After the insertion, Pressy is barely noticeable as only less than 1mm of Pressy will protrude out of your phone. The idea is that when you click on the button on Pressy, you will trigger a preset action like turn on flashlight.

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To use it, you have to plug it in and download the free Pressy app where you can customize the actions after the button press. Firstly you choose the action and assign the click sequence to it. For example you can choose between one short click or two long clicks or other combinations for different actions. And what kind of things you can do with it? Its a lot and these are some of them:

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Pressy also comes with a keychain holder for you to keep it when you want to plug in your headphone. It works on all Android devices with version 2.3 and later. Do take note that Pressy is not cheap. It cost you USD $27 for a black one. Seeing this as an opportunity, there are a lot of Pressy clones such as MiKey from Xiaomi and Klick from China which some with a very low price. Its interesting to see how Pressy is going to compete with them.

Do visit Pressy’s website for more information or to buy one.

 Dimple

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Dimple is actually a NFC sticker that have 4 buttons on it. What it can offer is almost similar to Pressy but having 4 buttons means that you can actually access 3 more actions easily as compared to the one button offered by Pressy. Being a NFC sticker means that it is powered by NFC chip in the phone and you can actually stick a lot of Dimples on your phone.

I feel that having it stick on the NFC antenna of your phone is quite intrusive as Dimple is quite big. I wonder how long can the adhesive last too. On the other hand, the obvious downside of this is that it can only work with phones with NFC and Android version 4.0 and later so if your phone has no such feature, you’re out of luck. Speaking of compatibility, if your NFC antenna happens to be located at the camera like HTC One, you cannot use Dimple too.

However, Dimple cost about the similar price with Pressy and it has not been offically launched yet. They estimate to ship Dimples on August 2014. Head over their website for more info.

 Apps

If buying new hardware is too expensive for you, you can install some apps that can do similar things with your current hardware buttons. QuickClick is an app that will start actions with sequence of volume buttons clicks. To use the app you have to select the function and then set the click sequence. For example you can set ‘Up – Up – Down’ to open the camera app. You can save a few actions but some actions may need more configuration before you can use. However, you cannot use it while your screen is turned off and some users are complaining about draining of battery life after using it. You can go to PlayStore for the app page and try it.

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 Verdict

These gadgets and app can certainly make our smartphone smarter. They can make your phone more useful and easier to use. If your phone has NFC and it is compatible with Dimple, you might want to wait for it as you can have 4 buttons. If you prefer to keep your phone looking simple, Pressy might be more elegant solution for you. If you’re out of budget and wish to have the shortcut key, search PlayStore for similar apps like QuickClick.

But the question is, why manufacturers are not doing it? The amount of backers and the popularity behind these projects indeed shows there is a gap between what consumers want and what manufacturers do. Its quite pathetic that a third party company figured out what consumers want while those manufacturers don’t.

4 Comments

  1. the external starting of an app (be it via the jack-consuming solution or the NFC Version) would require you to unlock the phone anyway, wouldnt’t it? so if you have to unlock anyway, then you can have the shortcuts (Icons/tiles) of your favorite apps on your start Screen anyway… or am I overseeing something… (I assume there is sth. comparable to Windows Phone start Screen where you can put your fav. apps in Android)

    • You can perform the actions without searching for the apps or access them while you’re in the other apps. For me I have pinned apps that I used often in the start screen/home screen but sometimes before I found it, I will need a few swipes here and there.

      I agree that not able to be used in lock screen might be a deal breaker. But what I don’t really understand is that why we can’t have them built it? A dedicated camera button is always better as we can fire up the camera anytime easily but why don’t make a programmable button for users to set what they want to do with it?

      Thanks for the comment! Cheers!

  2. xiaomi does this with Mikey :-)

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