Sometimes, getting to a specific feature or function, such as, say, locking my car remotely from the myBuick app or getting to the Selling section on eBay to check my auctions, in an Android app entails drilling down several layers deep to get to the desired setting.
Wouldn’t it be so much more easier if we could bring these features, at least the ones that you use frequently, to the forefront, accessed through their own icon, or shortcut, on your mobile device’s home screen, or perhaps from a designated folder containing shortcuts to otherwise hard-to-get-to commands.
The Android version 8 (Oreo) operating system (OS) comes to the rescue. Like most upgrades to the World’s most widely deployed smartphone and tablet OS, 2017’s version 8 came loaded with several new highly convenient productivity features, as did many of the apps subsequently updated to take advantage of the new capabilities.
Prior to Oreo, apps were treated like any other interactive strings of code, in that to get to a specific function, you launch the app and then navigate to the desired command. In the Microsoft Outlook app, for example, to start a new task, or calendar event, you must open Outlook, navigate to the calendar, and then touch the New Event icon to launch the new event form.
With an app shortcut, however, you can jump to the Outlook New Event, New Email, or View Calendar screen directly from your home screen, eliminating a few of the steps shown in the image above.
Perhaps a better example is the one I mentioned earlier about starting my car remotely from an app on my smartphone, myBuick. To get to the Start function in myBuick, the nifty little app that GM provides to its customers, I must start the app, go to the Key Fob section, and then press Start.
To avoid launching the app and navigating to the section where the Start and Stop engine functions are located, I can, using the procedure described below, start the car by simply touching the Start icon I extracted from myBuick and then placed on my home screen, or desktop.
Or, how about setting up a shortcut that takes you directly to your Watched list on eBay, so that you can see if any of the products you’re interested in have gone beyond what you’re willing to pay for them.
As we enter this discussion of App shortcuts, it’s important that you keep in mind that not all apps support shortcuts, and, depending on your version of Android and the phone manufacturer, not all phones support the same shortcuts, nor do they call them the same things.
On later versions of its Galaxy devices, for example, Samsung has removed its widget shortcuts feature that, among other things, allowed you to create and apply shortcuts to specific actions, such as, say, Settings. In other words, while you can, for example, create shortcuts for modifying screen brightness or audio volume and so on on your Google (and a few other Android) mobile devices, you cannot with a Samsung smartphone or tablet.
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