Android: Press & Hold

13.4.2012
Sure you've tapped on some of those Android phone buttons but have you ever held your finger on until something different happens? It's worth a try, you know.

On/off button
A nice way to quickly switch Flight Mode on or off or to do the same with Silent Mode is to press and hold the power button on your phone until it brings up a menu with the options, the third of which is to power down your handset altogether. Certainly beats having to drill down into the settings menus each time.

Menu button
Keep your finger on the menu button and if, you're lucky, the soft keyboard will pop up. Now, we say "if you're lucky" because it's not quite the case on all phones. On pure Android Nexus devices, it will work. On HTC Sense it will work so long as you're in an app which uses the keyboard and with Samsung's TouchWiz it will pop up the keyboard along with the appropriate search facility in whatever app you happen to be in.
Probably the most useful part of this function is actually when it comes to getting rid of the keyboard but that will only work with HTC and Nexus phones. Press and hold and it will disappear again. Very useful when it comes to filling in online forms on your browser without necessarily sending the information you've just typed in.

Search key
Remember that Android phones are fitted with a pretty powerful voice search function which will take you straight to the relevant Google search results pages of whatever it thinks you've just said. Press and hold the Search key to jump straight to Voice Search. With Samsung, it's a little different. Instead you might find that Voice Search is powered by Vlingo and requires a little set up. The pay off is that it'll offer more functions once you're done: SMS and phone call activation for example. Seeing as there's no Search Key on some Samsung smartphones, try a double tap on the Home Key instead.

Home key
Press and hold on the Home Key and it will bring up a small display of the most recent apps you've used and it's quite surprising how much quicker that makes accessing your usuals than hitting the app menu and then flicking through your screens until you find the one you're looking for. On Samsung TouchWiz phones it also offers access to the Task Manager at the same time.

App grid key
This is a Nexus-only tip but has its equivalent in other UIs with Propeller View. Android has plenty of homescreens within the desktop and a quick way to navigate from one to another without having to swipe your way through all the rest is to press and hold the app grid key at the bottom of the desktop screen. Up pops mini-icons of each of your panels. Tap any you want to jump straight to it.

On text (copy & paste)
Arguably the most useful of the lot is pressing and holding on text which kick starts the cut, copy and paste function. We could try explain exactly how it's done but it's largely a matter of knack. Have a play for yourself but it's generally a two part process. First highlight the text and then click what you've selected to cut, copy or paste.

On the desktop
Finally for press and hold, put your finger anywhere on an empty space of desktop and you'll uncover the key to a whole other side of your Android phone. Up pops your customisation menu offering a world of widgets, shortcuts, folders and wallpapers all to help make your desktop your own.