Every Android device has physical hardware buttons, and those hardware buttons can be remapped to perform practically any task. This article takes a look at three Android applications that will remap your smartphone or tablet’s physical hardware buttons.
1. Button Mapper: Android’s most popular remapping app
With close to 11,000 reviews on Google Play, Button Mapper is one of Android’s most popular remapper apps.
You can use this free application to assign a new action to any physical hardware button. This includes the Home, Back and Recent app keys, as well as the volume controls. If you own a Samsung device, you can also use Button Mapper to customize the Bixby button. It’s located underneath the volume keys on the left side of newer Samsung devices.
If you have a peripheral device attached to your smartphone, such as a gamepad, then you can also use Button Mapper to customize these peripheral buttons.
When you launch Button Mapper for the first time, it’ll request access to Android’s accessibility framework. This framework allows Button Mapper to customize the physical hardware keys. If you don’t encounter this prompt or accidentally dismiss it, you can also grant Button Mapper the necessary permissions via Android’s “Settings” application:
- Launch the “Settings” app.
- Select “Accessibility.”
- Scroll to “Button Mapper” and give it a tap.
- Drag the slider into the “On” position.
You can now remap the physical hardware keys using Button Mapper.
Launch the Button Mapper application. You’ll see a list of all your device’s physical hardware buttons.
Find the button you want to customize and give it a tap. On the subsequent screen, drag the slider into the “On” position.
You can now assign different actions to this button, depending on how you interact with it, such as double-tapping or long-pressing.
2. Ultra Volume: a more powerful volume slider
Android lets you assign different volume levels to different categories of sound. This includes ringtones, media, notifications and system sounds. However, these volume sliders are buried deep in Android’s “Settings” application. If you want to tweak them, you’ll need to navigate to “Settings -> Sounds and vibration -> Volume.”
Ultra Volume is a free application that replaces Android’s stock volume slider with five separate volume sliders. Each one is dedicated to a different sound category.
Using these sliders, you can quickly and easily assign different volume levels to different sound categories. This is perfect for muting everything apart from your alarm or setting media to play at maximum volume while minimizing all of those annoying system sounds.
To set up the Ultra Volume app:
- Download Ultra Volume from Google Play.
- Launch the application.
- Tap the “Start” button. Ultra Volume should request access to Android’s accessibility framework. This allows it to react every time you press one of the volume keys. When prompted, tap the slider, which will launch Android’s “Accessibility” menu.
- In the “Accessibility” menu, find “Ultra Volume” and give it a tap.
- Push the slider into the “On” position.
- Read the disclaimer, and if you agree, tap “OK.”
Press either of the volume keys. You should now see your new volume slider!
Expand the Ultra Volume slider by tapping its accompanying arrow button.
Drag the various sliders to assign a different volume level to each category.
If you want to restore Android’s stock volume slider at any point, simply re-launch the Ultra Volume app and tap “Stop.”
3. Skip tracks with the press of a button
Do you regularly listen to music on your Android device and wish it had a dedicated “skip track” button?
Long Press Volume is an app that adds this missing feature, allowing you to skip forward and back by long-pressing the volume keys while the screen is powered off. According to user feedback, this free application works with many of the major music applications. However, it isn’t available via Google Play, which makes installing Long Press Volume a more time-consuming process.
To set up Long Press Volume, you’ll need to set up ADB on your computer.
Installing Long Press Volume
- Assuming you have already set up ADB on your computer, download the Long Press Volume APK from its GitHub page to your phone.
- Tap the latest “skipTrack.apk” file, and when prompted, tap “Download.”
- On your Android device, launch a file manager application. Navigate to your “Downloads” folder, and tap the “skipTrack.apk” file that you just downloaded.
- When prompted, tap “Install.”
- Launch the Long Press Volume app, and you’ll immediately be prompted to run an adb command. This means it’s time to switch to your laptop or computer.
- Attach your Android device to your laptop or computer using a USB cable.
- Launch a Terminal/Command prompt on your computer.
- You now need to change direction (
cd) so that the Terminal/Command prompt is pointing at the adb folder. Type the following command:
Long Press Volume is now able to monitor the volume keys and can respond every time you long-press either of these keys.
Skip tracks with Long Press Volume
You’re now ready to enable the Long Press Volume app:
- Launch the Long Press Volume application and tap “Enable Service.”
- Select “Skip Track Settings.”
- Read the onscreen warning, and if this is okay with you, tap “OK.”
Launch your favorite music playing app, turn off the screen, and press the “Volume Up / Volume Down” keys. You should now be able to skip tracks.
Note that if this application doesn’t work as expected, you may get positive results by toggling “Enable Service” on and off or by trying an alternative music application.