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Action Button Unleashed: iPhone 15 Pro Game-Changer

The iPhone 15 Pro introduces a standout feature this year, surpassing its lighter titanium frame, new A17 Pro processor, and enhanced camera system. It’s the Action Button, a modest button situated above the volume keys, taking over from the traditional mute switch present since the original iPhone.

Action Button Unleashed: iPhone 15 Pro Game-Changer

Despite its simplicity, the Action Button represents a substantial hardware advancement for the iPhone series. Its true potential unfolds through its programmable nature, enabling novel ways of utilizing your iPhone.

Apple’s unveiling of the iPhone 15 Pro prominently featured the Action Button, a detail underscored in various subsequent reviews, including our own. However, it wasn’t until users gained hands-on experience with the device that the true capabilities of the Action Button came to light.

Initially, the button serves as a direct mute switch replacement, allowing you to adjust the ringer settings. Within the iPhone’s Settings app, you have the option to reconfigure it for tasks such as activating the flashlight, launching the camera, or enabling Do Not Disturb. However, the Action Button’s real potential shines when it is paired with Apple’s customizable Shortcuts app, offering expedited and more convenient phone operations.

While the Settings app suggests straightforward shortcuts for the Action Button, the real excitement lies in crafting custom shortcuts. You can program the Action Button to present a menu of alternative shortcuts that you can activate with a simple tap on the screen. Its functionality can vary based on your location, time of day, or even device orientation. Your imagination sets the limits, albeit with consideration for the Shortcuts app’s sometimes vexing programming process (fortunately, we offer some tips for overcoming this challenge).

Button of the Month: A Glimpse into the Action Button’s Potential

In today’s digital era, it often seems like hardware plays second fiddle to the software that propels our devices. Enter “Button of the Month,” a recurring column delving into the physical components of our smartphones, tablets, controllers, and more.

My Action Button setup boasts an array of shortcuts that enable diverse actions. These encompass fundamental functions like adjusting ringer settings, activating the flashlight, and launching the camera. Furthermore, I can seamlessly append tasks to my Todoist list, schedule calendar events in Fantastical, toggle rotation lock, jot down quick notes, identify songs with Shazam, resume the last-played playlist or podcast, and orchestrate an array of smart home controls—all without venturing to my phone’s home screen.

Full credit goes to YouTuber Stephen Robles, whose comprehensive tutorial on crafting intricate shortcuts with an Action Button menu served as my blueprint. Countless other inventive ways to leverage the Action Button abound on platforms like X, Twitter, Threads, and Mastodon, ripe for inspiration or direct adoption.

While the Action Button holds promise, Apple could elevate its prowess. Presently, it only triggers actions via a long press. Configuring short presses and double presses for specific tasks, akin to the power button’s versatility, would be a boon. Crafting shortcuts in Shortcuts demands patience and expertise, with the app frequently prone to glitches. Launching a complex or lengthy shortcut from the lock screen may result in timeouts and failures. (Pro tip: Utilizing a Mac for most of the shortcut creation and syncing it with iCloud can save time and headaches. Starting with a preexisting template is also a time-saver.)

Moreover, for iPhone 15 Pro Max users, the button’s high placement on the left side can be awkward to access. Even the standard 15 Pro might benefit from relocating the button below the volume buttons—a prospect Apple may consider in future iterations.

Transforming the iPhone 15 Pro into a Versatile Computer

Despite these constraints, the Action Button has opened up a realm of possibilities on my iPhone. I can effortlessly adapt and modify my shortcut options, rendering it more adaptable than any other hardware element on the device. Its speed, reliability, tactile response, and convenience surpass launching similar shortcuts via lock screen or home screen widgets or configuring the Back Tap function in accessibility settings. It elevates the iPhone in my pocket from a mere smartphone iteration to a robust computing powerhouse.

Among the myriad features introduced during the iPhone’s 17-year journey, the Action Button stands alongside Face ID, Apple Pay, and video recording as a transformational force in my daily smartphone use. I now yearn for this functionality on all my devices (a plea for a programmable Bixby button, Samsung), eagerly anticipating its evolution. Perhaps the next iPad will embrace this innovation.

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