It’s been a long road to production and delivery for Pressy, the Kickstarter-funded project that sought to give users a new physical button for their devices with the ingenious idea of using the phone’s headphone jack.
I backed Pressy at the end of September 2013 (so it’s been almost a year in the making now), and a small packet finally arrived on my desk this morning containing one Pressy and a black carry case that can (in theory) clip onto headphone cables and hook onto a keyring to keep your Pressy safe when not in use.
The Pressy device itself is a solid, sturdy piece of equipment. This isn’t too surprising given that it’s basically a headphone jack, and that’s a solid piece of metal. There is however a great feel to the physical click action from the button which protrudes only slightly from the metallic head of the device. Pressy gives a solid click, and it’d be disappointing after all this time if it didn’t.
Special mention should really go to the rather clever postal packaging. Pressy’s envelope is its shipping packet, with its recycled cardboard and custom-moulded foam inside. When you open it up, everything’s presented all neat and tidy – you can pluck out the Pressy (which is inside its holder) and you’re ready to go.
Also owing to its form factor – Pressy itself is pretty small. You’re going to want to use that holder if Pressy isn’t permanently in your headphone jack.
There’s been a lot of noise about how far Pressy protrudes from its host device, and whether or not that conflicts with cases. It’s about the thickness of the plastic portion of a typical headphone jack, so it shouldn’t have any problem fitting into a case that normal headphones work with. Depending on the thickness of the case, you might have trouble reaching the button but on my Nexus 5, in a Spigen case, it sits comfortably level with the bumper around the outside and I frankly couldn’t be happier with this.
You might be less happy with the keychain holder. When Pressy originally surfaced, its keychain holder looked very different:
The updated design, revealed to backers in April, is made of soft rubber instead of (what appears to be) solid plastic and has an grip area at the bottom that can hold on to a headphone cable that’s been run through the hole at the end. In theory, this should allow you to attach Pressy to your headphone cable when you want to actually plug your headphones in and use it, but in reality this has been more miss than hit here. I’ve tried it on a pair of Sennheiser headphones which have two wires, and it just plain didn’t fit.
The red cable that came with my Beats headphones was also too thick for the Pressy keychain holder, but I finally found a Sony cable that allowed it to fit reasonably well.
The keychain holder has brought about much debate at Ausdroid HQ – Dan is dead-set against it, while I’m personally a bit ambivalent. When you put the keychain to use in its primary use (it’s a keychain holder, after all), it attaches fairly well to my keyring, although I’m a bit paranoid that the rubber material used will break easily if it’s pulled too hard. That’s probably unlikely to happen, though.
The reality though, is that I use bluetooth headphones on my Nexus 5. My headphone jack is always free, and so the keychain holder is going to remain empty. It’ll probably be consigned to a small compartment in my bag, or just left at home where it’ll get lost on my desk.
This is all well and good, but how well does Pressy work? The answer is, it depends what you want it to do.
The Pressy App offers a deep, detailed set of preferences for your extra button. You can use combinations of short and long presses on the button to launch apps and perform actions, and the actions can be configured to work only when the screen is on, or also when it’s off.
Available actions are pretty detailed and well thought-out. For example you could configure Pressy to operate as a basic play/pause control for your music, record audio, open the camera app, take a photo, turn on the flashlight, toggle selected settings or run an app of your choice.
It appears that Pressy somehow fights with the main Android OS for control over the long-press trigger – it actually seems to launch Google Search by default (who knew?). This was pretty confusing as the Pressy app did a poor job of explaining that there was a conflict and why, so I shied away from reconfiguring that in case I accidentally broke anything. This left me able to only configure actions to be taken on one, two or three short presses of the button, but that’s more than enough for me anyway – I’ll probably forget anything beyond two clicks anyway.
A final note on the app – unlike the HelloKlick app used to support Xiaomi’s MiKey and the Klick button from DealXtreme, the Pressy app plays nice with your notification bar. There’s no permanent “(AppName) is running!” notification to clutter up your status bar, and for that convenience alone I’m happy with Pressy’s app.
I also suspect that if you’re a Pressy backer with a MiKey or Klick, you’ll be able to use the superior Pressy software to control your cheaper button. Dan will confirm this when he receives his Pressy, hopefully in the next day or two.
Push the button
I configured Pressy’s single short click action on my Nexus 5 with what I’m calling the Creepshot command (take a photo, no flash, even while the screen is off) and checked out the results.
A quick click of Pressy’s button quickly registers with a vibration on the phone, although then there’s a slight pause while the Pressy click handler app launches and figures out what to do. This delay seems fair enough (it’s giving me time to press the button again and invoke the double- or even triple-click command), even if it feels like it’s taken a little too long.
If the screen is on, it overlays a small UI that tells you the button press that it’s detected, and if you’ve taken a photo you’ll see a thumbnail of it. Photos even get saved into the Pressy folder. It’s a decent level of attention to detail.
I also tested phone calls with Pressy inserted – both with and without my Bluetooth headphones connected – and can there was no confusion over whether I had inserted headphones or not (which has apparently happened with other Pressy-like devices – it’s also possible that my choice of phone plays into this). Everything worked properly.
There’s been a bunch of reports of problems with compatibility around different, non-Nexus devices. I haven’t looked at them in too much detail, but it seems that the Pressy crew are doing their best to work through the issues and handle them where possible.
Ultimately I’m pretty happy with Pressy and while I do feel like my US $25 pledge was a bit on the steep side (especially given the cheap competitors now available elsewhere), the final product does what I wanted. If you want to get your own Pressy, you can order one from PressyButton.com for $27.
Did you back Pressy? Tell us about your experience with the product in the comments – does it work for you, and are you happy with it?