Pressy was funded (and 17 times their original target too) on Kickstarter back in October 2013. The idea was simple – a button that protrudes from the headphone socket of your Android phone and allows you to assign actions to various combinations of clicks.
It’s gone through some design changes since then (noticeably the storage of the device when not in use) but otherwise the version now available for general sale is much the same. Costing $27 with a $5 postage to the UK, it’s not particularly cheap. However, curious as to how it could be used, I bought one back in June. With no tracking provided and an expected wait for delivery I forgot about the order for a number of months – I chased it up with Pressy and, to their credit, they immediately sent another out when it became apparent that the original had gone missing.
You can choose your Pressy in a number of colours – this colour is reflected on the button top as well as the storage device that’s provided (more on that later).
One thing you do need to be aware of upfront, however, is the compatibility. Although touted as “for Android” there is only a restricted list of device it’s known to work with – All Samsung devices, Nexus One/S/Galaxy Nexus/4/5, Nexus 7 (2013 version), Nexus 10, Nexus One/S/Galaxy Nexus/4/5, HTC one S/X/M7/M8/Mini and LG G2. There’s a list of known incompatible device as well but as my OnePlus One was not included on either list I did some research first – users were saying it worked fine. It certainly doesn’t work with Windows Phone or iPhone. Why? I suspect it’s due to different standards for the way that headset buttons communicate with phones – there are two different standards and I suspect this only works for one of those.
The Pressy comes in a small cardboard box which opens up to reveal a glued foam insert. A cut-out in the foam holds the Pressy. Instructions are printed on the inside of the box. All very neat and, apart from the foam usage, very environmental. However, why the box needs to be as big as it is, though, is questionable. Don’t through it away though – printed inside is an activation code to use with the matching Android app.
Install the app and then plug your Pressy in and you’ll be instantly greeted with a pop-up asking you if you’re using Pressy or a headset. If you choose the former it won’t mute the sound and will activate the shortcuts you’ve programmed via the app. All very neat. You can even plug in a headset and tell it to use the buttons on that as if it was a Pressy.
Setting up shortcuts in the app in simple – there are many you can do, but actions can’t be based upon the current app you’re running. It would have been nice, for instance, to use the Pressy as a shutter button when in the camera app but that can’t be done. Instead you can program different presses (short or long) to do different things – one short press, three short presses, one long press followed by a short press, whatever combination you want.
The Pressy is stored in a rubber surround – a ring from the top allows you to put this on your key-ring (which I’ve done) and a secondary hold through the rubber lets you put it on your headset cable, if you wish. A very neat idea.
Okay, so all very good. And it would be if it actually worked. Long presses don’t work on my phone at all and the Pressy doesn’t work at all when it’s on the Home screen (if you’re inside an app at the time – any app – then it works fine). I contacted Pressy support about this and was told they were known problems and they were looking into them. No timescales, or anything.
Maybe it’s just me, or rather the phone I’m using it with. Except it’s not – Google reviews of this product and you’ll find them overwhelmingly negative. Since Pressy didn’t both to patent their design a number of (mainly Chinese) manufacturers have produced their own versions, often cost just a few pounds. They also don’t work but, as one review put it, you’d be best buying one of those so that when you realise it doesn’t work, you’ll have spent a lot less money.
I’ll keep mine for now and hope that the issues are actually sorted out – if they are I’ll report back. But I’m not holding my breath.