Smartphones need more physical buttons

Smartphones need more physical buttons

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Smartphone design has changed a lot over the years. Sliding keyboards and headphone jacks are eliminated for slim, elegant designs. We’ve also seen how many buttons are cut out, and I think this needs to be changed.

A typical modern smartphone has three buttons – volume up, volume down and power. There are some exceptions, of course – like the iPhone SE – but the vast majority of phones follow this design. There are some practical reasons for this, but I miss the buttons.

Related: You can still use wired headphones without the headphone jack

Where did the buttons go?

T-Mobile G1
T-Mobile G1

Smartphones used to have a lot of moving parts. There were slide-out keyboards, rotating screens, trackballs, and of course buttons. At one point, most Android devices had four enormous navigation buttons.

Over time, many of these features were abandoned. It is very rare to see phones with physical keyboards and navigation buttons. A big part of the reason for this is durability, which is good for you.

Moving parts have a much higher failure rate. Slide-out keyboards lose, keys stop working, buttons become mushy or broken, etc. You probably know someone who has an iPhone with a broken home button. The parts that move are the parts that break.

Removing these moving parts reduces the phones’ points of failure. The same can be said for ports, such as the headphone jack. All of these things are access points for dust and water, too. A device with fewer moving parts and slots is simply more durable.

Related: How to use an iPhone with a broken home button

button case

iPhone SE power button.
Justin Duino / How-To Geek

Technically, you don’t need any buttons on a modern smartphone. Both iPhone and Android have gesture navigation and options to control volume and power using the touch screen. However, they keep these physical buttons because they are more convenient than software.

Why are we restricted to comfort for strength and size? There are a lot of other things I would love to be able to do with the push of a button. Fortunately, at least on Android, one of these things is accomplished by double pressing the power button.

All phones have digital assistants now, but the ways to quickly launch them aren’t great. The fastest way is to only use your voice, but what if you don’t want your phone to constantly use the battery while you’re listening to something? Some Android phones It had Google Assistant buttons and it was very helpful.

How about your wallet app? This is something you probably need to quickly open when checking out at the store or showing a ticket or boarding pass. If mobile payments are going to replace physical cards, it should be easier than taking my wallet out of my pocket.

The point is, everyone probably has apps or functions that they need to access quickly. Even just one button that can be programmed to anything you want will be very easy to use.

Related: How to restart the phone without the power button

Can you add buttons to the phone?

Click again for the flashlight hero.
Joe Vidio / How-To Geek

Unfortunately, the phone industry is moving away from buttons. We’re more likely to see a phone with fewer buttons than more. So what can you do if you want more buttons on your phone? There are some options.

Let’s start by adding more buttons than you already have. With the help of a small gadget, you can add up to four buttons to your NFC-enabled phone. This includes most iPhones running iOS 14 and later, as well as the majority of Android devices.

The product is calleddimpleAnd NFC tags that are converted into buttons. It sticks to the back of your phone wherever the NFC chip is. When you press a button, the NFC tag connects and activates the desired action.

The . app It will help you set up actions on Android. To use it with your iPhone, you can use the “Shortcuts” automation feature. It’s more limited than its Android counterpart, but still surprisingly powerful.

If you don’t want to stick extra buttons on the back of your phone, you can use the ones you already have. iPhone and Android both have ways to perform actions when you tap on the back of your phone. It’s not an actual button, but it’s close.

Android users can use third-party apps to “reset” the functioning of existing buttons. We like an app called “striped buttonFor this. You can use it to reset buttons and add shortcuts, like double and triple tap. Button Mapper is free, but worth the paid upgrade if you find it useful.

Related: How to turn on the flashlight by tapping on the back of your iPhone

The days of smartphones with extra buttons are likely to be behind us, which is sad. Even if they do come back, it’s possible that the buttons are restricted to a specific function by the manufacturer. Phones are tools and they should work the way we want them to work. Buttons will make that even better.

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