Way back in Android 8.0 (Oreo), Android added a new feature called App Actions. The feature allowed users to take action from an app launcher icon. Long press the Gmail icon, and you'd see a pseudo-drop-down menu that allowed you, with a single tap, to open a recent email, or compose a new email (without having to first launch the app). Each app had different actions that could be taken from that pop-up menu. It was somewhat primitive, but it worked.
Well, Google decided to keep that feature in Android Pie, only to refine it quite a bit. In fact, what the developers did was make the feature significantly more useful and better suited for the overall design scheme of the platform.
Let's see how to use the new take on App Actions.
SEE: Mobile app development policy (Tech Pro Research)
By default, App Actions will be enabled on Android Pie. In fact, the only devices that currently have the ability to disable the feature are Pixel Phones. As of this writing, all other devices that support Android Pie cannot disable the feature. If you own a Pixel Phone, you can long press a blank spot on the home screen and tap Home settings. If you see a Suggestions entry in that window, tap it, and then (in the resulting window) tap to enable Actions.
All other devices have App Actions enabled out of the box.
Using App Actions
App Actions can be accessed from app launchers on the home screen, the app drawer, and even app folders. Long press an app launcher, and the App Action for that app will appear. You can then act according to what that particular app offers in the Actions menu (Figure A).
One handy feature of App Actions is the ability to add a shortcut to an action on your home screen. Say, for instance, you are a Twitter power user. You can add a quick shortcut to the New Tweet App Action by long pressing the Twitter launcher and then long pressing the New Tweet entry (Figure B).
The new launcher will be added to the home screen, where you can then move it into a folder if needed. Create a folder dedicated specifically to App Actions, and you've made Android Pie even more efficient. You could create a folder that includes App Actions for composing new email, tweets, sending a message to a specific contact, create a new Calendar event, and more.
One efficient step forward
Android continues to become more efficient with every iteration. But the evolution of App Actions isn't just about being efficient —it's also about looking the part of Pie. Now users have a much-improved experience with App Actions, one that also happens to fit in with the next-level design scheme. Make use of App Actions. With a little creativity, you can have a seriously effective slice of Pie in your hand.
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- Yum! That's some good Android Pie (ZDNet)
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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.