Android’s forgotten shortcut superpowers

    I positive do love me a very good time-saver. And generally, one of the best time-savers of all are those which can be proper below the floor of our favourite apps and providers, simply ready to be seen — or possibly remembered.I’ll admit it: Even as somebody who makes use of and thinks about Android nearly consistently, as a part of each my life and my job, I regularly 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 among the Android Assistant tips we talked a few couple months in the past, and it is occurred to me but once more now with a strong shortcut system constructed proper into Android and supported by oodles o’ totally different apps.The system known as, relatively 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 function 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 arduous to emulate Apple as a substitute of specializing in what is smart for Android and would offer the absolute best expertise in our most popular atmosphere. Heck, trying again at what I stated concerning the shortcuts five-plus years in the past appears nearly eerily prophetic and like a too-perfect prologue to what we’re speaking about at the moment:
    Their presence is totally hidden, with no visible cues by any means; you’d should occur to long-press an icon to search out them, and even then, you won’t totally grasp what occurred or why these objects appeared. Users who know concerning the choices are prone 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, all these years later, speaking about how so many people neglect to benefit from these time-saving potentialities. The particularly tough factor about Android’s App Shortcuts is that even in the event you do do not forget that they exist basically, you by no means know which apps take full benefit of 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 each few weeks to see what, if something, occurs.[Psst: Love shortcuts? My Android Shortcut Supercourse will teach you even more advanced time-saving tricks for your phone. Sign up now for free!]When you do press the proper icons, although, you are certain to be delighted by the buried treasures you unearth. And with a teensy little bit of tinkering, you may make a few of ’em much more 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 ShortcutsFirst, let’s again up for a fast primer on what precisely App Shortcuts are and how one can put ’em to make use of: App Shortcuts are principally simply direct hyperlinks to particular features inside apps in your telephone — methods you may get to particular person actions or areas inside an app with out having to undergo the everyday means of opening it up, plopping round by means of its menus, and tapping a number of instructions to get the place you need to go.See?JR You can entry  App Shortcuts by urgent and holding your finger down on an app’s icon — both on your property display screen or in your app drawer — for a few second. And here is the place the true time-saving potential comes into play: You also can place any of the shortcuts that pop up straight onto your property display screen for even simpler one-tap entry. Just press and maintain the shortcut you need once you see it come up, then drag it into an open area in your house display screen and let go.So the place would possibly this be useful? Well, in loads of locations, you goofy ol’ goat. Let’s speak some specifics.16 particular Android App Shortcuts price embracingI went by means of a bunch of various productivity-oriented apps to determine among the most broadly helpful (and but woefully underutilized) App Shortcut actions. Here are 16 wonderful choices to floor after which prepare your self to make use of by yourself Android system:With Slack, long-pressing the app’s icon will reveal single-tap shortcuts for leaping straight into any particular workspace linked to your telephone. Depending on the variety of workspaces you have got, you may additionally see shortcuts for snoozing your notifications and loading Slack’s “jump 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 Google Docs, you possibly can transfer straight into a brand new, clean doc or open up the search perform to search out what you want with out having to first open up the app after which poke round.
    With Google Drive, you may get direct hyperlinks for looking out, importing a brand new file, or — considered one of my private favorites — scanning a bodily doc in through your telephone’s digital camera.
    Gmail has hidden shortcuts for beginning a brand new message or leaping straight into any account’s inbox (offered that you’ve got a number of accounts linked to your telephone, in fact).
    You can long-press Google’s Messages app to waltz your means straight into any just lately used message thread.
    And talking of chatting with folks, urgent that squishy phalange of yours down onto the official Google Phone app’s icon gives you one-touch shortcuts for dialing any latest contacts you’ve got known as — no app-opening or different steps required.
    Google Keep has a useful assortment of note-creating shortcuts, together with one-touch instructions for firing up a brand new textual content be aware, photograph be aware, checklist be aware, or audio be aware.
    The official Google Clock app on Android has App Shortcuts for beginning a stopwatch or a timer proper from your property display screen.
    Press and maintain the Google Calendar app’s icon, and you will find a easy shortcut for creating a brand new occasion in addition to for creating a brand new Assistant-linked reminder that’ll seem on any Assistant-connected system 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 just lately opened board related along with your account.
    In Maps, you possibly can launch guided navigations to any of your saved locations (together with “home,” “work,” and “that deli where I eat so much salami I can’t move”) by urgent your finger to the app’s icon after which deciding on the situation you want.
    Long-pressing the Chrome icon will floor choices for zipping proper into a brand new tab — or incognito tab, even — proper from your property display screen.
    The Nest app provides you shortcuts to generally opened linked devices, so you possibly can hop proper over to the management panel to your residence workplace digital camera or deskside Smart Display with out all the standard steps.
    The Twitter Android app has shortcuts for galloping instantly into latest direct messaging conversations, in case you ever want to go to an energetic thread with out getting sucked into the stream.
    The Android Settings app (which itself is in the end only a shortcut to your system settings) holds hidden shortcuts for hopping straight into the Wi-Fi, Data Usage, or Battery sections of your system settings.
    And the Play Store app has a supremely useful shortcut for popping proper into the “My Apps” space of the Play Store to look by means of pending or latest updates to your varied put in purposes. So lengthy, cumbersome menu-wading!
    This checklist might go on kind of indefinitely, relying on what particular Android apps you utilize, however you get the concept. And all of that, my dearie, remains to be simply the beginning.Advanced Android App Shortcut actionFor as helpful as they’re, Android’s App Shortcuts might be made much more highly effective with the assistance of an app I’ve talked about in different contexts earlier than. It’s somewhat somethin’ known as Sesame, and it might probably do lots of various things — however particular to our dialogue at the moment, it helps 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 along side a customized Android launcher designed to take full benefit of what it might probably do. It works natively with many of the launchers I are likely to advocate — together with my present private favourite, Niagara, in addition to the long-standing Android fan favourite Nova.So what precisely does Sesame do? Well, lemme let you know, you beautiful little gecko: With the proper form of launcher setup, you can open up Sesame and choose precisely what shortcuts seem everytime you long-press totally different apps in your house display screen atmosphere.With Google Calendar, for 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 your whole subsequent month’s price of occasions from any of your linked calendars — work, private, salami-eating schedule, you identify it. And if you would like any of these shortcuts to be prioritized and completely positioned on the high of the checklist, you possibly can merely pin ’em from proper inside that very same enhancing software. JR And when you do — effectively, by golly, wouldya take a look at that?JR Other apps have totally different choices. In Messages, for example, you possibly can choose sure high-profile contacts and maintain shortcuts to their conversations pinned on the high of the App Shortcuts checklist. In Gmail, you possibly can pin one-tap entry to particular labels into the app’s long-press menu. In the Google app, you may make shortcuts for figuring out a track on demand and even for pulling up a digital bubble stage software. And in Drive, you possibly can pin shortcuts to particular cloud storage folders for simple ongoing entry.JR My favourite of all, although, must be Chrome, the place you possibly can create a selected, set checklist of regularly accessed web sites after which have these websites present up as one-tap choices everytime you press and maintain the app’s icon — type of like a easy, exceptionally accessible private begin web page, solely you do not even should open something to get to it.Oh, and simply with like Android’s normal built-in App Shortcuts, any of the shortcuts you create with Sesame can be dragged onto your property display screen for much more direct entry. (The app prices $3.50 to make use of after a free two-week trial, by the by. Given all the dear seconds it will prevent, I’d say it is price each penny of that price — and them some.)Pretty nifty, proper? Android’s App Shortcuts system definitely has some conceptual issues, and it is yet one more unlucky instance of Android sliding again into previous dangerous habits and placing invaluable choices out of sight and out of thoughts. We might speak for hours concerning the methods Google might repair this (and, um, we did — a number of years in the past). But it is extra productive to remind ourselves about what’s hidden after which prepare ourselves to start out benefiting from it.And now, the ability is in your arms. Embrace it correctly — and this time, do not forget to maintain utilizing it.Get much more superior shortcut information with my new Android Shortcut Supercourse. You’ll study tons of time-saving tips to your telephone!

    Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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