I certain do love me a great time-saver. And typically, the very best time-savers of all are those which can be proper below the floor of our favourite apps and companies, simply ready to be seen — or possibly remembered.
I’ll admit it: Even as somebody who makes use of and thinks about Android virtually continuously, as a part of each my life and my job, I ceaselessly discover myself stunned by how typically I stumble onto one thing that I knew about in some unspecified time in the future however way back forgot to maintain utilizing. It occurred to me with a few of the Gmail suggestions we talked about final week, and now it is occurred to me once more with a robust shortcut system constructed proper into Android and supported by tons of various apps.
The system is known as, fairly fittingly, App Shortcuts. It’s been round since 2016’s Android 7.1 Nougat launch, and it was initially framed as a response to Apple’s once-buzzworthy 3D Touch characteristic on the iPhone.
And that, as I wrote on the time, is the true Achilles’ heel of Android’s App Shortcuts: The system tries too laborious to emulate Apple as an alternative of specializing in what is sensible for Android and would offer the very best expertise in that atmosphere. Heck, wanting again at what I mentioned concerning the shortcuts 4 years in the past appears virtually eerily prophetic and like a too-perfect prologue to what we’re speaking about as we speak:
Their presence is totally hidden, with no visible cues in anyway; you’d must occur to long-press an icon to seek out them, and even then, you won’t totally grasp what occurred or why these gadgets appeared. Users who know concerning the choices are more likely to neglect they exist and underutilize them, too, as typically occurs with non-obvious instructions in a consumer interface. Out of sight, out of thoughts — it is a very actual phenomenon.
And right here we’re, 4 years later, speaking about how so many people neglect to reap the benefits of these time-saving prospects. The particularly difficult factor about Android’s App Shortcuts is that even in the event you do do not forget that they exist usually, you by no means know which apps help the system and which do not — or when any given app is up to date with a richer set of shortcut choices — until you simply haphazardly press icons on a regular basis to see what, if something, occurs.
When you do press the best icons, although, you is perhaps delighted by the underutilized treasures you summon. And with a teensy little bit of tinkering, you can also make a few of ’em even extra helpful.
So sufficient of my blathering: It’s time to find — or maybe rediscover — the productivity-boosting potential of Android’s App Shortcuts.
The ins and outs of Android App Shortcuts
First, let’s again up for a fast primer on what precisely App Shortcuts are and the way you place ’em to make use of: App Shortcuts are principally simply direct hyperlinks to particular features inside apps in your cellphone — methods you will get to particular person actions or areas throughout the app with out having to undergo the everyday technique of opening it up, looking round by way of its menus, and tapping a number of instructions to get the place you wish to go.
You can see App Shortcuts by urgent and holding your finger down on an app’s icon — both on your own home display or in your app drawer — for a few second. And this is the place the true time-saving potential comes into play: You may place any of these shortcuts straight onto your own home display for simple one-tap entry sooner or later. Just press and maintain the shortcut you need while you see it come up, then drag it onto an open house in your house display and let go.
So the place may this be useful? Well, in loads of locations, you goofy ol’ goat. I went by way of a bunch of various apps to establish a few of the most broadly helpful App Shortcut actions. Here are some to bear in mind and attempt to practice your self to make use of by yourself Android machine:
- With Google’s Messages app, you possibly can long-press the app icon to leap straight right into a just lately used message thread.
- With Slack, long-pressing the app’s icon will reveal single-tap shortcuts for snoozing your notifications, leaping straight into a particular workspace (if in case you have a number of groups linked to your cellphone), and loading Slack’s “soar to” command — which helps you to transport your self straight into any channel or direct message simply by typing the primary letter or two of its identify.
- With Docs, you possibly can transfer straight into a brand new, clean doc or open up the search perform to seek out what you want — with out having to first open up the app after which poke round.
- With Drive, you will get direct hyperlinks for looking, importing a brand new file, or — one in every of my private favorites — scanning a bodily doc in through your cellphone’s digital camera.
- The official Google Clock app has App Shortcuts for beginning a stopwatch or a timer proper from your own home display.
- Gmail has shortcuts for beginning a brand new message or leaping straight into any account’s inbox (offered you’ve a number of accounts linked to your cellphone).
- Keep offers you a useful assortment of note-creating shortcuts, together with one-touch instructions for creating a brand new textual content notice, photograph notice, checklist notice, and audio notice.
- Press and maintain the Calendar app’s icon, and you will find a easy shortcut for creating a brand new occasion in addition to one for creating a brand new Assistant-linked reminder that’ll pop up on any Assistant-connected machine the place you are signed in.
- Use Trello? Its Android app icon holds shortcuts for beginning a brand new card with a single faucet or for leaping into any particular board in your account.
- This is sure to fluctuate from one financial institution to the subsequent, however Bank of America has a super-useful shortcut tucked away inside its icon that permits you to zap proper to the app’s cellular check-depositing perform.
- The Twitter Android app has shortcuts for leaping straight into your messages or mentions, in case you ever wish to assess in on pending correspondence with out getting sucked into the stream.
- In Maps, you possibly can launch guided navigations again to any of your saved locations by urgent your finger to the app’s icon after which choosing the placement you want.
- The Nest app offers you shortcuts to generally used linked devices, so you possibly can hop proper over to no matter one you need with out all the standard steps.
- Google Duo has one-tap shortcuts for beginning one-on-one video calls together with your most just lately used contacts.
- And the eponymous Google app holds a shortcut for figuring out any track that is enjoying round you after which exhibiting you all there may be to know concerning the tune.
This checklist might go on kind of indefinitely, relying on what particular Android apps you employ, however you get the thought. And all of that, my dearie, remains to be simply the beginning.
Advanced App Shortcuts motion
For as helpful as they’re, Android’s App Shortcuts may be made even extra highly effective with the assistance of an app I’ve talked about in a number of different contexts earlier than. It’s a bit of somethin’ referred to as Sesame, and it may do an terrible lot of various issues — however particular to our dialogue as we speak, it permits you to take management of an app’s shortcut checklist to each increase it and condense it in some fairly efficient methods.
To expertise Sesame’s full profit, you will want to make use of it at the side of a customized Android launcher designed to take full benefit of what it may do. It works natively with a number of of the launchers I’ve advisable beforehand, together with Lawnchair, Niagara, and Nova.
So what precisely does Sesame do? Well, let me inform you, you attractive gecko: With the best form of launcher setup, you will see a further Sesame-logo-shaped icon inside each app’s long-press menu, proper above its shortcuts. And tapping that icon will take you right into a particular interface the place you possibly can choose precisely what shortcuts seem everytime you long-press that app.
With Google Calendar, as an example, along with the usual new occasion and new reminder shortcuts we talked a few second in the past, you possibly can have the App Shortcuts system present you your total subsequent month’s price of occasions from any of your linked calendars. And if you would like any of these shortcuts to be prioritized and completely positioned on the prime of the checklist, you possibly can merely pin ’em from proper inside that very same enhancing instrument.
And when you do — properly, by golly, wouldya take a look at that?
Other apps have completely different choices. In Messages, as an example, you possibly can choose sure high-profile contacts and hold shortcuts to their conversations pinned on the prime of the App Shortcuts checklist. In Gmail, you possibly can pin one-tap entry to particular labels into the app’s long-press menu. And in Drive, you possibly can pin shortcuts to particular folders from inside your storage for simple ongoing entry.
My favourite of all, although, is Chrome, the place you possibly can create a particular, set checklist of ceaselessly accessed web sites after which have these websites present up as one-tap choices everytime you press and maintain the app’s icon — form of like a easy, exceptionally accessible private begin web page, solely you do not even must open up something to get to it.
Oh, and any of the shortcuts you create with Sesame may also be dragged onto your own home display for much more direct entry. (The app prices $3.50 to make use of after a free two-week trial.)
Pretty nifty, proper? Android’s App Shortcuts system actually has some conceptual issues, and it is yet one more unlucky instance of Android sliding again into outdated unhealthy habits and placing precious choices out of sight and out of thoughts. We might discuss for hours concerning the methods Google might repair this (and, um, we did — 4 years in the past), but it surely’s way more productive to remind ourselves about what’s hidden after which practice ourselves to start out benefiting from it.
And now, the facility is in your arms. Embrace it properly — and this time, do not forget to maintain utilizing it.
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[Android Intelligence videos at Computerworld]
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