You’ve started using Google Music. You’ve queued up a playlist ready to blast away on your commute. You throw your headphones on, hit the play button and walk out the door. Google Music magically whisks you away to your happy place and you’re immersed in your lovely bubble of sound. You decide that you want to hear a particular track again, and reach up to the button controller on your headset, only to realise that your phone only allows you to use one button to do one thing. You can’t replay that song. The bubble is burst, your immersion is ruined, and your happy place has turned sour.
Android music lovers have suffered in silence for some time. The platform’s support for headset controls is lacking, and varies from device to device and from app to app. Worse, even the control mode varies from product to product as you’ll find products designed for iDevices don’t work right on certain apps. Android itself doesn’t natively support three button headsets, although Samsung allows you to use the additional buttons for volume up/down while HTC uses them for next/previous track control. Custom ROMs may or may not include support for them as well. It can all get pretty confusing!
Enter Headset Button Controller, available for a free trial on the Play Store (the full version costs $2.99, but the trial will work for a week). The app allowed me to program my preferred setup – one tap to play/pause, two taps to skip forward and three taps to skip back. These functions are all customisable, and there are heaps to choose from. You can also initiate functions on long clicks, and other settings exist to change button actions based on context (in-call, ringing, etc).
Each set of configured actions can be saved as a Profile. Actions available include Stop, Play/Pause, Previous, Previous x 2, Next, Rewind, Rewind (for “other players”), Fast Forward, Fast Forward (again, for “other players”), opening the Volume Control, Volume Up, Volume Up (one step), Volume Down, Volume Down (one step), Mute/Unmute, Voice Search, Voice Command, Voice Command “Native”, Redial Last Number, Say Time, Launch an app, Launch a shortcut, run a Tasker Task or Switch Profiles. Some of those are a bit overly specific, but you’ll know what they mean if you need them.
It may also be able to control the additional +/- previous/next buttons if they exist on your headset and are supported by your phone, but other members of the team found this pretty hit-and-miss and shouldn’t be relied on – for example, Jason‘s HTC One didn’t listen to his configured up/down actions and instead proceeded to switch to previous/next tracks – that’s what a trial is for, right?
Personally, I found it very much worth it. I like the idea of being able to control my audio with my headset and not needing to have to take my phone out of my pocket. As Android doesn’t natively support multi-button headsets (why?), this will allow lots of people to mimic the functionality of a three button headset. Win!
The trial version of Headset Button Controller can be found on the Play store.
What headset do you use, and on what device? Do its buttons do what you want? Do helper apps like this work for you? Let us know in the comments!