Like to Launch Applications by a Single Key Press? Use “Phone Shortcuts” then
Like many computer users, I’ve defined hot keys for a good number of applications I frequently use. Being able to press a hot key to bring up an application instead of looking for it on the Desktop or in the Start menu is real cool. Now, courtesy of Tektronic Phone Shortcuts, it’s become possible to do the same thing with S60 3rd Edition handsets.
Phone Shortcuts allows you to associate handset keys with installed applications. All numbers, Star (*) and Number (#) can be used to launch applications more easily and quickly, even when the keypad is locked. The application can autostart as the phone boots. Also, it can run in the background as a hidden service without appearing in the “Task manager”. If you launch Phone Shortcuts for the first time, you can press Left and Right to move around 12 controls which have the following names:
- 1. Empty,
- 2. Empty,
- 3. Empty,
- 0. Empty,
- #. Empty.
Here the word “Empty” means you’ve not yet defined an application for the focused key. Pressing “Key 1” on one of these so-called empty controls displays the following menu options:
- Edit shortcut,
- Privacy note.
To exit the application and actually hide it, you should press “Key 2”.
Customizing the application
Let’s see what the “Settings” option offers.
- Start app. then exit – Yes.
With this option set to “Yes”, pressing a key which has been defined to launch an application briefly opens Phone Shortcuts and then closes it. If set to “No”, the app remains open.
- Hotkey state – Enabled: key Clear ( C ).
This means that holding down the “C” key brings Phone Shortcuts to the foreground even when it doesn’t appear in the “Task manager”. The next option allows you to define how long the “Clear” key should be held down in order for the application to appear:
- Hotkey timeout: X second(s).
This can be a number between 1 and 10. The greater the number, the longer you should hold “C” to bring Phone Shortcuts to the foreground. The next option is useful if you want to bring the application to the foreground even when the keypad is locked:
- Hotkey ignores keylock – Yes.
Interestingly, with this option set to “Yes” holding down the “Clear” key unlocks the keypad and moves you to the application. What the final option does is quite obvious:
- Autostart at boot – Yes.
Note that once you’re done making your changes, you should press “Key 1” and select “Save”. Otherwise you’ll lose your changes.
To add an application to a key, first move to that key name in the main cell Phone Shortcuts window, press “Key 1” and select “Edit shortcut”. A dialog with the following control appears:
- Select application – None (empty).
Simply press the “Select” key or choose the “Change” option from the menu to define an application for that key. The process of selecting an application isn’t quite straightforward because the app list isn’t an alphabetical one and you should press Up/Down several times to reach the program you want – this is, IMHO, something the developers should address by letting us type the first few letters of the application we want. Anyway, once you select the desired application, two more controls are added to the dialog:
- Shortcut hotkey – Disabled.
- Start at boot – No.
If the first option is kept “Disabled”, it means that its associated application can be launched only when the focus is on the name of its key. For instance, if you associate “7” with “Alon MP3 Dictaphone” and keep the “Shortcut hotkey” option disabled, you should launch Phone Shortcuts and move to “number 7” to activate “Alon MP3 Dictaphone” by pressing “Select” on it or selecting the “Start application” option from the menu. Also, simply pressing “7” activates “Alon MP3 Dictaphone” if you know with which key it has been associated. If it is said to “Enabled”, two familiar options appear:
- Hotkey timeout – X second(s).
- Hotkey ignores keylock – Yes.
Finally, the “Start at boot” option is useful if you want to force the associated application to autostart as Phone Shortcuts gets activated upon booting the handset. Note that at most five applications can be set to autostart this way. Having modified all required settings, don’t forget to select the “Save” option from the menu.
If you later decide to change or remove a pre-defined shortcut, simply move to its control in the main Phone Shortcuts window, press “Key 1” and select “Edit shortcut”.
A caveat of using Phone Shortcuts is that it interferes with the “speed dial” function and indeed disables it if you associate a “speed dial” key with an application. However, you can kill it if you want to continue using the “speed dial” feature. Alternatively, you can keep some keys for “speed dial” and preserve some for Phone Shortcuts. Phone Shortcuts has truly changed the way I use my N82 and I already have a product license for this €6.99 application. The current version number is 1.02. As always, use its trial on your handsets before making your purchasing decision.