Plenty of Android devices ship without physical home buttons, but Samsung’s devices (among others) still do, and as the best-selling Android manufacturer, that means millions of these buttons are still getting into the hands of users.
Whether physical or virtual buttons are better is a debate I’m not going to dive into, but what do you do if your home button happens to break somewhere down the line?
In the long run, probably replace your phone, but in the meantime, here are several Android apps that you can use to replace a broken home button.
1. Navigation Bar
If your home button has let you down, and you’ve always been intrigued by those minimal icons that most Android phones use for navigation, then Navigation Bar is for you.
This app gives you the Material Design Back, Home and Recents buttons across the bottom of your screen, just like the official ones. What makes these better is that you can tweak them all you like, decide how long they stay on the screen before the disappear (or lock them if you like), change the icons’ size and even the background color behind the icons.
2. Home Button
From the same developer as Navigation Bar, Home Button gives the bottom of your screen a glowing colored hue, which you can then tap or long-tap to act as a home button. It has plenty of customization options, too, such as changing the size and color of the tasteful glowing light at the bottom of your screen.
You can actually decide what tapping and long-tapping this light does, so you can program all kinds of functions to it such as Back, Home, Recents, WiFi toggle and so on. That means that even if you do have a functioning physical home button, this app could still be worth looking into.
3. Multi-Action Home Button
Multi-Action Home Button is designed specifically for phones that don’t have virtual home buttons. It was originally created for the HTC One, but it works with Samsung phones just as well. All users have to do is tap the bottom-center of the screen to activate the home button or perform other actions. Unfortunately, the app inserts an item in the notification drawer that does nothing other than serve as a reminder that it’s running, so users still have to put up with a little extra visual clutter.
4. Easy Touch
Like Home Button, Easy Touch adds an icon that floats on top of your other apps. Unlike that app, it comes with far more functionality. Whenever you tap the floating icon, you not only have the option to return to the home screen, you can lock the phone, toggle the settings, or access favorite apps.
5. Button Savior
Button Savior offers possibly the most comprehensive solution to the whole ordeal, but it does come with a major caveat – some of the functionality requires root. Fortunately, returning to the homescreen is not one of those features, and it works out of the box just fine.
Button Savior works by sticking a little dock on the side of the screen that disappears behind a small transparent toggle when not in use. Tapping that arrow pulls the dock back out, displaying icons for performing various tasks. The app is very customizable, so you can change the icons on the dock, which side of the screen everything resides on, and the order everything appears in.
These apps can help you continue to use a phone with a broken physical home button. Even if your device is in complete working order, this can help you give that button a rest or make up for the lack of a virtual button that you may wish you had. Alternatively, these apps can prevent you from having to reach all the way to the bottom of a large phone just to return home.
If you know of other apps that help to squeeze extra life out of a dead or dying home button, feel free to share it with others in the comments below.