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Extracting Features from Android Apps for Faster Access

Sometimes, to navigate to a specific feature or function, such as remotely locking a vehicle from the myBuick app, or navigating to the eBay sales section to check out my auctions, the Android app needs to go deeper into several levels to get to the desired setting.

Wouldn’t it be so much easier if we could bring these functions, at least the ones you you often use, to the front, accessed via a custom icon or shortcut on your mobile home page devices. screen, or possibly from a designated folder containing shortcuts to commands that are otherwise difficult to obtain.

The operating system (OS) Android version 8 (Oreo) comes to the rescue. As with most updates for the world’s most widely deployed smartphone and tablet OS, 2017 version 8 has several new, very handy productivity features, as have many applications that have since been updated to take advantage of the new features.

Before Oreo, apps were treated like any other interactive lines of code: to navigate to a specific function, you launch the app, then navigate to the command you want. In Microsoft Outlook, for example, to start a new task or calendar event, you must open Outlook, go to the calendar, and then tap the New Event icon to launch the new event form.

However, with an application shortcut, you can go to Outlook New Event, New Email, or Calendar View right from the home screen, excluding some of the steps shown in the image above.

Perhaps the best example is the one I mentioned earlier about remotely starting the car from the myBuick app on my smartphone. To get to the Start function in myBuick, a nifty little app that GM provides its customers, I have to launch the app, go to the Keychain section, and hit Start.

To avoid starting the application and navigating to the section where the engine start and stop functions are located, I can, using the procedure below, start the car by simply touching the start icon, which I have extracted from myBuick and then placed on my home screen. or desktop.

Or how about setting up a shortcut that takes you straight to your Watchlist on eBay so you can see if any of the products you’re interested in have gone beyond what you’re willing to pay for.

When getting started discussing app shortcuts, it’s important to remember that not all apps support shortcuts, and depending on your Android version and phone manufacturer, not all phones support the same shortcuts or call them the same.

For example, in later versions of its Galaxy devices, Samsung removed the widget shortcuts feature, which, among other things, allowed you to create and apply shortcuts to certain actions, such as Settings. In other words, while you can, for example, create shortcuts to change screen brightness, sound volume, etc. on Google (and some other Android) mobile devices, you cannot use a Samsung smartphone or tablet.

Access app shortcuts

All versions of Android after Oreo allow you to extract, or at least find and execute, certain functions in certain apps. But it is important to note that not all applications have retrievable functions, and not all retrievable functions can be retrieved in every situation or scenario.

When in the following example I try to fetch shortcuts from Amazon Music player app, for example, all items in the list are grayed out or unavailable.

Anyway, let’s find the ones that works .

Remember the scenario where you want to check the status of your viewed items on eBay to see how well those listings are doing? Here we will create a shortcut for our auctions to check and see how well they are going. There are two ways to do this.

You can simply access the shortcut inside the app, constantly accessing it as needed, or you can extract the shortcut entirely and place the shortcut on one of your home screens. Your home screen layouts and the way you work should help you determine which direction to go. I would say that if you need to re-access multiple functions in your application, choose the second method.

Let’s tackle the first one first. (Note: If you receive a lock screen warning at any time, select the Unlock option.)

  1. Look for the eBay app icon.
  2. Place your finger on and hold until a pop-up menu appears.

The eBay app will open to a sales screen that displays each of your auctions, along with a count of the number of active auctions you have, how many items you’ve sold in a predetermined period, and some other important statistics.

Extract shortcuts to your desktop

The above method of executing a shortcut from an application pop-up window may seem quite fast and efficient, but you can speed up the process even further by fetching the shortcut you want directly to the desktop, as shown here.

  1. Find your eBay app icon.
  2. Place your finger on the icon and hold it until a pop-up menu appears.
  3. Select and hold Sell until the eBay icon disappears and the Sell button separates from the pop-up window.
  4. Drag the Sell button to an empty spot on your desktop or another home screen. whole and throw in there.

You now have an icon that, when you click on it, launches directly in the Selling section of your eBay app, displaying important data without having to wade through the app. (You can place it on any screen. I’ve placed it here for easier viewing.)

Create groups of shortcuts

Remember that we talked earlier about extracting multiple shortcuts from one application and grouping them in one folder. Take the myBuick application, for example; it contains many sections and subsections, commands and subcommands, and it often takes about five or six steps to execute one command.

It would be useful to have three commands: “Block”, “Start” and “Unblock”, which I most often use together, in one place at my beckoning call.

Let’s create a folder containing some keyboard shortcuts. (Chances are you don’t have myBuick or another automotive app; if you do, use it to continue. If you don’t, use eBay or another app with multiple commands available.)

  1. Find and hold the myBuick application icon until a pop-up menu appears.
  2. Select and hold the Start button until the eBay icon disappears and the Start button can be moved with your finger.
  3. Drag the Start icon to an empty spot on the Home screen and release it.
  4. Go back to the myBuick icon, press and hold until the pop-up menu appears, then select and hold “Unblock”.
  5. After myBuick is gone, drag Unlock to the home screen where you left Start, and drop it over the Start button.

The two icons are automatically combined into one folder.

Now, the only time I need to open myBuick is when I need to access a function that I use less often. How many apps in your App Drawer (or how much time would you save) would benefit from fetching shortcuts?

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