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Have you ever thought about how underutilized your Android phone’s buttons are? The two volume buttons and power button only carry out their boring assigned tasks. While you might have a few more buttons depending on your phone, they probably don’t let you change their behavior.
It’s time to put your smartphone’s buttons to better use. Here are some great apps you can install to supercharge your phone’s hardware keys.
1. Button Mapper
Button Mapper is a comprehensive app that can remap any button your phone or connected accessory has. It’s capable of personalizing the triggered action when you tap a key once or twice, or perform a long-press. Button Mapper is compatible with nearly every clickable component including your earphone’s buttons, volume up and down keys, and more.
On top of that, the app supports special toggles offered by a particular OEM. For instance, you can adjust what happens when you squeeze the Active Edge of the Google Pixel 3. The only one it cannot edit is the power button.
Button Mapper lets you link a host of shortcuts such as toggling the flashlight, a third-party app’s internal action, navigation buttons like home, taking a screenshot, and just about anything else.
In addition, you will find loads of options for changing the vibration intensity, long-press delay, and wait times. Unfortunately, unless you have a rooted phone, Button Mapper can only work when the screen is turned on.
While the majority of its features are free, you can access a range of advanced tools by opting for the premium version.
Download: Button Mapper (Free, premium version available)
2. Keyboard/Button Mapper
This app might seem identical to the one discussed above. But it has a bunch of critical differences worth taking a look at.
The biggest highlight of Keyboard/Button Mapper is its ability to set up trigger combinations. So you can launch an action by pairing more than one input.
For instance, you can create a new task which fires up the flashlight when you tap the volume down button and then volume up. You can string together a maximum of two presses.
Apart from your phone’s hardware, Keyboard/Button Mapper allows you to do the same with external keyboard and mouse accessories too. For example, you could enter a specific piece of text by pressing the K and B keys together.
Similar to the first app, if you have a rooted device, you can unlock further advanced tricks in this app.
Download: Keyboard/Button Mapper (Free)
3. Trainer Stopwatch
As the name suggests, Trainer Stopwatch is a straightforward stopwatch utility app. It’s on this list, however, because you can control it with your phone’s volume buttons. You can lap the timings, start or stop, and reset the progress, all with the volume up and down keys.
What’s more, Trainer Stopwatch comes with a clean interface. It lets you have multiple active sessions and save the important ones for later. There’s also a dark theme, if you prefer that.
Download: Trainer Stopwatch (Free)
4. Frinky Music Controller
Frinky Music Controller is another handy app that lets you make the most of your phone’s hardware buttons. It’s specifically for music playback and can assign actions like Forward, Pause/Play to the volume up and down keys.
The app even works when your screen is off, without root access or any cumbersome ADB permissions. You can also configure tasks for multiple clicks and long-presses. Frinky supports about two hundred music apps including Google Play Music, Spotify, and SoundCloud.
Download: Frinky Music Controller (Free)
5. Oops! AppLock
AppLock employs your phone’s hardware by allowing you to define app and screen locks based on volume key press patterns. Instead of the usual fingerprint or numeric passwords, you can unlock your phone or individual apps by tapping the volume up or down key a certain number of times.
Your code can be up to five steps long. To ensure privacy, it goes as far as to masquerade itself as a simple notes app in the app drawer.
Download: Oops! AppLock (Free, premium version available)
6. Scroll Pocket Articles With Volume Keys
Pocket, the save-for-later service, has a nifty setting that enables you to scroll through articles with the volume buttons. The option is available as Volume Rocker Scrolling in the Settings.
It functions as you would expect. You press the volume down button to scroll downwards and volume up to go towards the top. Sadly, though, you can’t alter the number of lines each click skips yet.
For the uninitiated, Pocket is a free service that lets you save links for later. So when you come across an article you’d like to read but don’t have time for at the moment, you can add it to your Pocket library and go through it when you do.
If you’ve decided to give it a shot, here’s how to get the most out of Pocket.
Download: Pocket (Free)
7. Use Your Phone’s Built-in Gestures
A few phone makers have begun to bundle some gestures of their own into Android. These are generally for performing quick actions such as switching to the silent profile, launching the camera, and similar.
On the Google Pixel line, you have access to both of those. They also have Active Edge, through which you can talk to the Google Assistant. To enable them, you will have to head over to Settings > System > Gestures.
Unique Ways to Use Your Phone’s Fingerprint Sensor
Hardware buttons are one of the most underrated attributes of your smartphone. And with these apps, you should be now able to unlock their complete potential.
Once you’ve tried them all, it’s time for you to augment your phone’s fingerprint sensor. Here are a bunch of ways to uniquely use the fingerprint reader on an Android device.