If there’s one Android feature we think everyone should try out, it would have to be swipe actions. With the swipe of your finger, you can add an extra shortcut to every icon on your home screen, effectively doubling the number of things you can do.
This isn’t a feature of stock Android, but it’s found in most third-party launchers (I’m using Nova Launcher myself). It isn’t a new feature either, but it is one that is easily overlooked.
The basic idea: Every icon on your home screen has an action associated with it when you tap it. Tapping the Chrome icon opens up Chrome, and tapping the Contacts icon brings up your contact list. Swipe actions let you give those icons a second action that you access by swiping up on the icon. For example, I’ve set up the following shortcuts:
- Swiping up on Chrome opens Chrome and goes directly to Lifehacker, my most frequently visited site.
- Swiping up on the Contacts icon directly calls my girlfriend, my most frequently called contact.
- Swiping up on the Maps icon immediately navigates me home, so I don’t have to type in the address every time.
- Swiping up on the Google Voice icon toggles whether I use Google Voice to make calls.
You see the pattern.
How to Set It Up: To assign a swipe gesture in Nova Launcher, just tap and hold on the icon in question, and choose Edit. Under Swipe Action, you can pick from a launcher-based action, launch another app, or choose from one of Android’s many shortcuts (direct call or message a contact, navigate you to a location, open a Gmail label and so on). Assign these to the icons on your home screen and you have double the shortcuts, without having taken up any more space. Check out the video above to see it in action.