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May 16, 2017

HTC U11: What can you do with a squeezable phone?

by John_A

The new HTC U11 introduces a new method for interaction with your device: squeezing.

While most smartphone manufacturers are copying and reproducing features we’ve often seen elsewhere, HTC’s new method of interaction is all the more unique. At last, something new to get excited about!

But is this new Edge Sense just a gimmick to make it stand out from its rivals? Here’s the low-down on what HTC’s new squeeze action will do.

How does Edge Sense squeeze work?

Let’s start here: squeezing is exactly as it sounds. The HTC U11 has pressure-sensitive areas around the sides of the handset meaning you can squeeze the phone when you’re holding it and the phone will detect that action. HTC is calling the whole thing Edge Sense. 

When you squeeze the phone, it will be acknowledged with a haptic buzz, so you know it’s working and then the phone will react and do what you’ve set that action to do. 

You can have long squeezes or short squeezes and they are customisable. All you have to do is give the phone a squeeze – it’s really simple. 

Does the HTC U11 still have buttons?

Yes. HTC hasn’t removed the buttons, so you still have a power button and a volume rocker on the phone, as well as a fingerprint sensor on the front. In that regard, it’s a normal phone and all the buttons do all the things you expect them to do.

The squeezing is an additional option. You don’t have to use it, but it’s something you can do without changing your grip or moving your hands around.

Won’t the squeeze be detected whenever I grip my phone?

Yes and no. You can change the level of squeeze you need to result in it counting as a squeeze and normal gripping won’t trigger the action. If you were clinging onto your phone while someone was trying to steal it out of your hand, then we suspect it would be triggered.

When you setup the phone you’ll be asked to squeeze the phone to set the level needed. We can’t see that you’ll have many accidental triggers because it’s a fairly distinct action. 

What can you do with a squeeze?

HTC is offering a load of customisation, so you’ll be able to trigger a whole range of action through squeezing. That might be something you do all the time – like launching the camera – or might be something you want to reserve as a special action for the squeeze, like opening the Wi-Fi hotspot.

By default, the squeeze will do different things in different places. Here are some examples. 

A squeeze from the lock screen will launch the camera. A squeeze will then focus and take a photo. When the camera is open a long squeeze will switch from front to back camera.

When the keyboard is open, i.e, you’re entering text, a squeeze can switch to voice entry instead.

A long squeeze will launch Google Assistant, so you can avoid using the hotword 

Basically, squeezing can be used to launch or trigger an action. HTC will let you change the default actions to launch and app of your choice, take a screenshot, turn on the torch/flashlight, launch voice recording, launch HTC Sense Companion, turn the hotspot on or off.

Will HTC support third-party apps with squeeze?

Yes it will, but you’ll have to wait for an app to be made available to control Edge Sense, which is due in July 2017. 

This new app can then be used to support any app on your phone. That means you’d be able to use a squeeze to take particular actions in apps that you like. We’re not sure if that means you’ll be able to squeeze to order an Uber home or throw a Poke Ball, but we can’t wait to find out. 

What phones support the squeezable Edge Sense?

Only the HTC U11 will offer this function. It will be available from 18 May, rolling out globally.

  • HTC U11 preview: Easy squeezy, liquid surface pleasy
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