One of the best things about Android devices is how configurable they are. With a little effort, you can make your smartphone do almost anything you want. You just need the right apps. And luckily, they’re out there.
One thing you might want to do with your phone is launch certain actions quickly. If you’re serious, you can go for Tasker, the ultimate automation solution, but you’ll have to shell $2.99 for it, and this is one trick it actually can’t do.
Another way to go is something like the Pressy button or one of its clones, which let you quickly launch tasks by pressing a button. Here too, you’ll have to pay for an extra item, as well as wait for it to be shipped. Looking for a quick and completely free solution? It’s time to try QuickClick [No longer available].
Do Everything With Your Volume Buttons
That’s right, instead of adding an extra button to your device, QuickClick makes use of your phone’s volume buttons to launch all sorts of actions and tasks, and it can even work with the screen off. QuickClick is completely free to use without any limitations. The only thing you’ll have to endure are some ads, but since you won’t be looking at the app much after setting things up, this shouldn’t be a problem even for ad haters.
Getting started is easy: create a new QuickClick action, and choose one of the available actions from the list.
QuickClick offers 10 different types of actions, including flashlight actions, camera actions, calling and messaging, app launching and settings toggles. You can even use it to launch a Tasker task, making it truly unlimited. Once you choose the type of action you want to configure, you’ll get some specific settings to set up for that action. These will differ from action to action, but the process is simple and self-explanatory. Once you configure the action, you can choose the volume button sequence that will launch the action.
That’s it, your new action is now ready for use. You can continue adding more and more actions to QuickClick, but keep in mind that the more you add, the more complex your button sequences will become. At some point, these may become a little hard to remember. If you don’t need all your actions active all the time, you can set them up and deactivate them. You can then reactivate them with a tap whenever you need them (note the disabled actions in the right screenshot below):
Getting To Know The Settings
As you can see, using QuickClick is straightforward. You set up actions, choose a button sequence, and you’re ready to go. However, it is worth your time to go over the app’s settings and tweak things.
One of the most important settings to look at is when QuickClick should listen to actions. If you want, the app can listen to button presses at all times, even when the screen is off. While this is a great option for some tasks, it may cause your battery to drain at a faster rate. If you want to conserve your battery life, choose to have QuickClick listen only when the screen is on.
From the settings, you can also control the interval between clicks, whether or not an action can bypass your phone’s lock screen, the app’s notification bar icon, and more. Note that if you set the app to bypass your lock screen, it will even bypass your PIN code! This can be a major security loophole, granting anyone access to your text messages with just a couple of button presses.
QuickClick is a service you can turn on and off easily. Whenever you want it to stop listening, either turn it off from the notification area, or alternatively, add a widget to your homescreen for one-tap toggling.
Does It Work?
All of this is nice and dandy on paper, but how well does QuickClick work? In a nutshell: it’s good. You really can turn on your flashlight, call someone or toggle Bluetooth using a certain volume button sequence. Is it the most convenient thing in the world? That depends on how many actions you need and how good your memory is. For me, after setting more than 3 actions, I kept having to go into the app to remind myself what my button sequences were. I’m sure it gets easier the more you use it, though.
Unfortunately, the app is not bug free. I found that taking photos and videos through the app is not the smoothest experience in the world. To start, QuickClick doesn’t launch the phone’s native or default camera app, but something else entirely. The videos shot through this app come out in a weird aspect ratio, and don’t look all that good.
In addition, shooting a video with QuickClick works only in portrait mode. When I tried starting a video in landscape mode using my button sequence, it simply didn’t work.
Of all the actions I tried, though, video was the only problematic one. Taking regular pictures worked fine, but do keep in mind that the “taking photo” sequence does just that. It takes a photo of whatever your phone is aimed at at that moment. This could be useful for when you need a really quick photo on a device without a dedicated camera button, but in general, getting a button sequence to launch your favorite camera app will probably work better in most cases.
Another annoyance was that the Launch App action doesn’t sort the apps on my phone alphabetically, nor does it offer a quick search option — forcing me to hunt through the list of apps until I found the one I needed.
I loved using QuickClick sequences to turn my flashlight on and off, to launch apps, to text or call people and to toggle my phone’s settings. It’s a simple automation solution for those who don’t like messing with complicated apps, but even serious automation geeks can use it to launch their Tasker tasks or other simple tasks using the phone’s volume buttons.
How do you automate your phone? Any interesting automations you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments!