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Pressy adds a physical, programmable button to Android phones

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Pressy Android button (Kickstarter)
Pressy Android button (Kickstarter)

Android phones nowadays are largely devoid of physical buttons — save for the typical duo of volume and power keys. But Pressy, a Kickstarter project that promises to bring a programmable physical button to nearly any Android device, is challenging the idea that consumers are happy doing everything on a touchscreen. With 45 days left to go, Pressy's creators, Nimrod Back and Boaz Mendel, have raised more than $92,000. Pressy surpassed its stated $40,000 goal in less than 24 hours. To put it simply, Pressy is taking off.

The idea behind the project is a simple one: use a standard 1/8-inch headphone jack (but without the headphones) to create a diminutive but easy to find button. When installed, Pressy can perform a number of straightforward operations such as launching a phone's camera app, starting a voice recording, opening up settings, activating the flashlight, or any other number of other options. Each action is assigned to the button in an a Pressy app. According to Back and Mendel's Kickstarter page, Pressy can even be set to perform multiple functions by defining what happens with single or double short or long clicks — basically, the inputs are morse code.

Pressy app

The way Pressy works is by running on Android as a background service. The duo says that their app monitors the headset jack, but only really does anything when Pressy is clicked, which should prevent the button from draining battery life. The Pressy app, and therefore the actual hardware, works on any device running Android 2.3 or newer. And once the app is set up, Boaz and Mendel say users will even be able to use the mic button on a set of headphones to perform the same actions the Pressy button would.

Bringing back buttons

Since Pressy isn't yet a real consumer product — the pair says it'll take about four months before the buttons are shipping to donors — we can't say how well the device will work in the real world, especially on the many, many different Android phones out there. But, if you want to give Pressy a shot, the asking price isn't much. For a $17 pledge, donors will get the button and the app. Or if you're feeling really spendy, $45 can buy a gold-coated Pressy button with a matching key chain holder.