With the meteoric rise in popularity of the touchscreen, something people tend to forget is the importance of physical buttons. Nimrod Back and his team are not among those who have forgotten, and they are looking to add an extra button to Android devices with an interesting new product called Pressy. It plugs into the headphone port, and adds all kinds of quick-access functions.
The button itself, while cool, is only useful with a good application behind it. From the looks of things, the Pressy app offers some great functionality. It allows users to choose from a slew of different functions such as turning on the flashlight, instantly taking a photo and uploading it social networks, calling a number in your contacts, and so on. Users can set up multiple functions with different combinations of presses. For example, two short presses could tell it to call Mom, and two long presses could cause it to a take a photo.
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The application sits in the background and monitors the headphone jack for input from the user. This will allow it to always be ready when the user initiates an action. After all, the whole purpose of the device is to allow for quick access to frequently-used functions.
Another major part of this project is the API, which will allow developers to build their own functionality with the button. An example cited by the creators is for a game developer to build the button into their game.
Android 2.3 and newer is supported, so even some moderately old devices can get in on the action. iOS, on the other hand, is not. "We are not releasing an iOS app for Pressy," says Back. "There are too many restrictions on the API. We hope our developers community builds an app compatible with iOS." Even though there will not be native support, I imagine it won't take long for it to surface, even if it only comes to jailbroken devices.
The physical device looks just like a standard headphone plug, except that instead of a cord, it features a small button that sticks out just enough for the user to be able to press it. When using headphones, a user can plug Pressy into the included keychain. Interestingly, if the headphones include a button, the app allows that button to get access to all of the Pressy features.
The Pressy team is seeking funding on Kickstarter. The project started with a US$40,000 goal, and it has quickly blown past that and is now approaching $250,000. The minimum pledge required for backers to receive a device is $17, and the delivery estimate is March 2014.
The (hilarious) Kickstarter pitch below provides more information on Pressy and shows it in action.