Remember Pressy? It is a KickStarter Project that adds a physical shortcut button to Android devices and I have shared about it earlier. While Pressy is still unable to deliver its product, the companies in China are already selling something very similar.
There are actually other 3 companies which are selling the same thing, namely Xiaomi, Klick and 360. Today I am going to review the shortcut from Xiaomi, which they call Mikey. Fun fact here is that you can use the same hardware for all the apps developed by all these 3 companies. I shall put them into a comparison later after I tried all of them. I wouldn’t want to comment who comes out first and whose idea is this as I don’t have enough information for this. But for your record, the first time I heard of this idea, its from Pressy.
Mikey looks like an ordinary metal headphone dust plug. The special thing here is that there’s a button on top. Mikey is small and after inserting it to the phone, it only protrudes out a little and it will not spoil the look of your phone. The button is nice to click and it provides enough physical feedback to let you know you have pressed it.
It comes with a small holder that can be attached to the cables of your headphone so that you can keep your Mikey safe when you want to plug in your headphone. This is actually more useful than the keychain type holder provided by Pressy as you can keep the button with your headphone.
The app itself is simple. Booting up the app will show you the number of times Mikey is pressed for that day and the predefined actions. Settings are accessible at the top right corner. In the setting page you can adjust the speed of button clicks. You need to find a suitable time for yourself. If the speed is too fast then multiple clicks will be hard to be achieved. If its too slow you will find the response very slow too. Then you can choose to focus before taking picture, let the app give vibration response after the action is done and more importantly, to allow the app to run in the background or not. Running in the background will give faster response but consume more power.
To delete the actions, just go to the main page, tap and hold on the actions and you will be able to delete them. To add actions, just tap the plus button at the bottom of the main page and you will see a list of click patterns, ranging from one click to a crazy 10 clicks. For each click pattern you can assign one action or a set of actions. The used patterns will be in grey as shown and the unused patterns will be in white.
You can select any unused patterns and you can start adding actions to them. There are actually 3 categories of actions that you can choose from: native application launch, third party application launch and system setting toggle. You can choose a combination of actions like clearing the RAM, lock the screen orientation and then launch Google Chrome. You also can choose to launch a 4-item tray where you can choose one of the 4 different tools you set yourself. I find this very useful.
The difference between launching native apps and third party apps will be shown when you press the button when your phone is locked. For certain native apps like launching camera, you do not have to unlock your phone while launching third party apps requires you to do so. So you might want to choose the native apps here.
My experience with it is a mixture of good and bad. First of all, let’s start with the bad part. For Mi3 the headphone jack is at the top and Mi3 is quite long so I have to shift my hand from the usual holding position to click the button. This is not much problem. But if your phone’s headphone jack is place at the bottom of the phone, there’s no way you can click on the button naturally while holding the phone in one hand. The other complain is the inconvenience to the people who use headphones very often. They will find removing and putting back the button over and over again as a trouble and if you use normal headphone a lot, Mikey is just not for you.
The major complain I have is the responsiveness. There are sometimes when the button just won’t react to you or reacts very slowly. Although this is happening around once per 20 times of tries, it can be frustrating too. I hope that this can be improved via app updates. The other thing is compatibility issues. Xiaomi has just promised that their own phones will work nicely but the other brands might or might not work even you are running MIUI on them. But do take note that older models like Mi1 and Mi1s are not supported.
However, despite the cons, Mikey is still a worthy accessory. How often I need access to selected action and apps, I feel that unlocking my phone and searching for the app is way too slow. After you have the habit of using a Mikey, you just can’t go back to the old ways as it is so fast and so convenient. I appreciate it the most when I need to fire up the camera to capture a precious shot. This will come in handy as the hassle of unlocking the phone and finding the apps can be skipped and you will not miss that shot.
This convenience does not come at the price of the security of your phone. While some actions like taking audio recording and taking photos do not require unlocking, the gallery and other information of yours cannot be accessed at all. On the other hand, Mikey can protect your audio jack against dust too.
Try Before You Buy?
In case you don’t have a Mikey and you want to try how it works, you can actually download the app to your phone and insert headphone with button controls. I tried Apple Earpods for iPhones and it works perfectly. Clicking the play button will simulate the Mikey button press. I don’t have other earphones with button controls but yours might work too. Feel free to give it a try as it cost you nothing at all.
Mikey is priced at 4.99 Chinese Yuan ( around RM2.60 or USD 0.80) by Xiaomi which is quite cheap. Pressy will find its USD 27 price tag hard to compete with Mikey. Iit is not official at Malaysia yet but you can order it from the Internet. I got mine below RM5 including shipping when buying in bulk with my friends in case you want to know the price. I have seen some dealers charging RM20 for each of them and I am really surprised by their profit margin.
This will be a worthy investment for most people. At a small cost you can have faster access to apps and shortcut to actions. You definitely will not want to miss it unless you use headphones very frequently as I mentioned earlier. But bear in mind that it so not that necessary to buy it from scalpers at a high cost.