Gesture controls on smartphones have been around for quite some time now. Do a chop-chop to turn on the flashlight, draw a ‘C’ on your screen to open the camera, use your fingerprint scanner as a mini trackpad, you name it… Most android phones today come with some sort of gesture features inbuilt in the software that provides users many different shortcuts. In addition, there are plenty of apps on the Play Store with gesture features implemented- be it setting up shortcuts for your apps or firing up specific commands, gestures can definitely enhance your productivity and here’s our pick of some of the best gesture-control apps and features for your android smartphone.
Inbuilt gestures on Android
From the earliest Slide-to-unlock and double-tap to wake feature, gestures have always been a welcomed addition and keeps getting better on Android. Let’s go through a few of them–
- Two-finger slide for quick settings – The quick settings on Android can be accessed by sliding down the notification bar down a second time. However, you can access it right away by sliding in with two fingers down the display.
- Google Keyboard gestures – Google has been consistently updating their keyboard app, and it includes many interesting gesture features hidden in it. Here are some you might not have known about:
One-handed gestures – Some of us like to swipe-type using only one hand. For someone who does that, capitalizing certain letters or using specific symbols can be a drag. But with Google’s keyboard, you can easily do that by swiping the ‘Shift’ key to the specific alphabet you wish to capitalize or swiping the ‘number’ key for symbols.
Spacebar cursor – You can simply swipe right and left on the spacebar to move the cursor while typing.
Deleting words – Swiping the backspace to ‘m’ will delete one word. Similarly, swiping to ‘n’ will delete two words. The longer you swipe, the highlighted words get deleted.
- Double-tap and slide to zoom – Everyone knows pinch-to-zoom and double-tapping, however, on Google Maps, there is another easier way to zoom using just one finger. Double-tap on the screen and then without lifting the finger, simply drag in and out.
- Swipe between tabs on Chrome – You can swipe the address bar on your Google Chrome to switch between different tabs. You can also pull down the address bar to view all your tabs.
Finger Gesture Launcher
As the name suggests, Finger Gesture launcher is an app that lets you launch any specific app, shortcut any WhatsApp conversation, make specific phone calls, simulate home and back buttons, and many more by drawing simple shortcuts of each task. In the app, select the action you want a shortcut for and then select ‘next’ to draw your gesture. You can create shortcut gestures for any app and also other system commands using this app. If you have a rooted Android device, you can even assign shortcuts to reboot, initiate a system recovery or other similar system commands.
Motorola’s inbuilt twist to open camera and chop-chop to turn on flashlight is one of the handiest gesture-feature that is specific to Moto Android phones only. Thankfully, there is a free 3rd-party app in the Play Store that allows any Android phone to do all that (plus more). Using Gravity Gestures, you can create four specific shortcuts using four different gestures. By Rotation X-axis, Rotation Y-axis, Z-axis and Shake. Confused? They simply mean – pulling up your phone twice like a fishing-rod, twisting, chopping twice and shaking horizontally.
fooView – Float Viewer
The main use for this app is basically to minimise the amount of steps you need to take for doing anything on your phone. fooView – Float Viewer is really a floating app that tries to do, well, everything. With fooView – Float Viewer you can take regional or full-sized screenshots, record screen, use it as navigation button, search or translate text, use it as a shortcut to switch between apps or have a floating browser window – all using simple gestures. And to be honest, it actually nails most mentioned tasks. Another good thing about Float Viewer is that unlike other floating apps, you can actually hide the floating bubble on any sides of the screen completely and slide it out when you need it so it doesn’t block anything on the screen.
Use Wave Control to control all your music and video playback, receive calls or even toggle between different apps. For controlling your music playback, simply hover your hand over the proximity sensor of your phone to Play/Pause, wave once to go to next song and wave twice to go previous. The other features are actually locked on the free version and you can unlock each of them separately for `65 each. Controlling music playback was easy and worked flawlessly, however, we were not able to receive any calls at all.
Gravity Screen – On/Off
Perhaps the app with the coolest interface on our list, Gravity Screen takes advantage of the different sensors like the accelerometer, gyroscope and proximity sensors to turn your phone display on or off without the need to touch any buttons depending on when you put the phone on the table or pocket, or when you pick it up. Setting up is very simple and we didn’t face much problems during testing. There is also a Pro version available for upgrade however, the free version was good enough for us and gets the job done.
Say your phone does not run the latest version of Android but you want the new fingerprint gestures of Nougat, Fingerprint Gestures not only brings that feature but so much more functionality to any Android phone with a fingerprint scanner. Basically, you have three different gestures – A single tap, double tap and a fast swipe that you can customise and assign to different tasks.
From media playback to using it for navigation, opening up certain apps, toggle notification panel, scrolling, etc. You can customise the three different gestures any way you want. With root-access you can even use it to put your phone to sleep, take screenshots, summon Google Assistant, toggle slip screen and many more.
This article was first published in May 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit e-magazine app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.