Android Navigation Tips and Button Saviour

April 22, 2011, By Christian Cawley

One of the beauties of the Android navigation is the ease with which you can move about your device, switching from app to app, moving backwards through pages that you have visited in your browser and opening menus whenever they are available and required.

This is made possible thanks to three main buttons, Home, Back and Menu. Many Android devices will feature additional buttons and even a small roller or optical button for accessing the Menu, but these three key buttons allow you to do pretty much everything on an Android phone, from opening applications to sending emails.

Not all buttons are created equal, however. Some need a little loving care, or else they will soon stop working correctly. Should you find that the key buttons on your Android phone or tablet are failing to respond as you would like them to, the addition of a useful “button saving” app will transfer the majority of these functions to your Android display, as we shall see…

Android Navigation tips

Go Home, Back and Open Menus with Android

Android’s three main buttons are explained below…

The Home button on an Android device, just as with an iPhone or Windows Phone, will send you straight back to the main screen of your phone or tablet regardless of what app you were previously using. This is a very useful feature, great for quickly escaping from running apps and checking the status of any app widgets you might be using (such as Facebook) or checking emails. Holding the Home button will also display a menu featuring all running apps, from which you can choose which ever app you want to switch to.

With the Back button on your Android phone you can find your way to any previous apps that you have used as well as work backwards through any pages that you have visited in your browser. Additionally if you access the menu in any app, tapping Back will close the menu and let you resume the app.

The great thing about the Android menu button is that is opens contextual menus depending entirely upon the app that you are currently using. For instance on the main Android Home screen you will see the options to alter your Android Wallpaper and access the Settings, whereas in the Market you will find a Search tool and Settings.

Breathe New Life into Your Android Buttons

If the hardware buttons are beginning to suffer on your Android phone, the obvious step is to get a new phone or tablet. However there is another way.

Thanks to the Button Savior app (which requires root access and USB debugging enabled) you can simulate the various functions of your hardware buttons with a software tool that overlays on your Android display.

Button Savior is free from the Android Market and features various themes such as Froyo and Honeycomb. Accessing the menu of buttons (which includes software versions of back, home and menu) is a case of tapping a small arrow on the side of the display. A great tool for anyone with dodgy hardware buttons!

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