Android Intelligence Advice

Meet your secret Android shortcut genie

This clever new tool will grant you time-saving superpowers. Ready to make your favorite Android phone even more useful?

Android shortcut genie
OpenClipArt-Vectors/Google/JR Raphael

Android Intelligence Advice

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The beauty of Android is that there's never a shortage of creative and compelling apps that completely change the way you interact with your phone. That's something (cough, cough) certain other operating systems absolutely don't allow at the same level.

The problem, though, is that that same benefit can sometimes create an overwhelming deluge of appealing possibilities. If you pay enough attention to this stuff (or, y'know, read a delightful column and/or newsletter written by a charmingly nerdy wordsmith who shares such treasures with you), you run the risk of ending up with so many interface-enhancing apps that you never actually get in the habit of using any of 'em.

Believe me: This overabundance of riches is a good kind of problem to have. But still, it makes you especially sensitive to the value of a really exceptional Android app that's not only admirable for what it's able to accomplish but also something you're likely to use regularly, with little thought, effort, or fiddling required.

Today, my fellow fiddle-foundering flounder, I've got just that type of tool to share with ye. It's a brilliantly simple app that takes advantage of an otherwise underused area of your phone's surface and turns it into an on-demand shortcut mecca.

And unlike most other tools for similar sorts of purposes, it's incredibly easy to set up, use, and get yourself in the habit of relying on.

[Psst: Love shortcuts? My free Android Shortcut Supercourse will teach you tons of time-saving tricks for your phone. Sign up now to get your first lesson!]

Let me explain.

Meet your Android efficiency genie

The tool at the center of this relevation is a relatively new Android app called, rather tantalizingly, Touch the Notch. (Oh, yes.)

The idea behind it is that most of us now have phones with some manner of notch — a cutout or bar of some sort in the screen where the front-facing camera resides. And when you really stop and think about it, that darkened little nubbin serves no practical purpose, in terms of ongoing value or interaction.

So rather than simply training yourself to look past that eyesore, Touch the Notch turns it into something genuinely useful. It lets you configure a series of custom actions that come up when you caress that comely notch of yours in various ways — tapping it, long-pressing it, swiping it, or maybe even tickling it gently. (Disclaimer: Tickling will not actually accomplish anything but may make your phone titter.)

And the available actions include some seriously powerful things. You can set any manner of notch fondling to accomplish feats like:

  • Opening a specific app
  • Opening a custom menu of apps
  • Toggling your phone's flashlight
  • Capturing a screenshot
  • Toggling do-not-disturb mode
  • Controlling audio playback
  • Adjusting your screen's brightness
  • Turning your screen off

And again, any of those things happen simply as a result of your tapping your favorite fingie to that otherwise useless camera cutout at the top of your device's display. Not bad, right?

Personally, the approach I've been diggin' is to have a single tap of my phone's notch pull up a custom app menu. That way, no matter where I am on my phone or what I'm in the midst of doing, I can tap my fragrant phalange to that funky little cutout in the top-center of the screen and then get a nifty little list of the apps I open most often.

Android shortcut: Touch the Notch (open) JR

One more tappity-tap, and boom: I'm exactly where I need to be — no home screen hopping or time-wasting trekking required.

Android shortcut: Touch the Notch (menu) JR

Best of all? Setting this thing up really couldn't be much simpler.

30 seconds to a smarter Android setup

All right, start your stopwatch. This should take you roughly 30 seconds to do:

  • First, go download Touch the Notch from the Play Store.
  • Open it, then tap each of the two lines under "Required Permissions" at the top of its setup screen and follow the steps to grant it those necessary permissions. One of them is authorizing the app to act as a system accessibility service, which may sound scary but is actually needed for the app to be able to operate (and it's worth noting that the app doesn't require any other system permissions, meaning it couldn't even access the internet or do anything with your data if it wanted to; that aside, its privacy policy is also clear about the fact that it doesn't store or share any manner of personal data).
  • Once that's done, just tap on the different notch-touching options to set each one to whatever kind of action you want.
Android shortcut: Touch the Notch JR

And that's it! All that's left is to, well, touch your notch — to tap, press, or swipe that camera cutout area on the top of your phone's screen in whatever way you selected and then giggle with glee when your chosen action happens.

It's easy to set up, effortless to use, and supremely effective at saving you time and making you more efficient — plus, it stays out of your way and doesn't bug ya unless you need it. You really couldn't ask for more.

Oh, and Touch the Notch is free, too, with an optional 99-cent donation if you want to support its developer.

That's the beauty of Android, baby. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Get six full days of advanced Android knowledge with my free Android Shortcut Supercourse. You'll learn tons of time-saving tricks for your phone!

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