Hardware problems with a device are possibly the most worrying because there is always the question of whether the problem can be fixed or not, what it will cost and if it’s covered under warranty. Screens are usually the more costly items to fix on smartphones, but at least they can be replaced quite easily. Broken or unresponsive buttons might be a different story though, depending on what device you’re using. If you have a faulty and unresponsive button, you can either get it fixed, or give Floating Soft Keys a try. It’s a free Android app that adds a floating bar of four keys to your screen: the back , home and menu buttons, and a resize button. Your device must be rooted in order for the app to work. It is very much like the AssisstiveTouch feature in iOS that lets you access all device operations from a single floating button.
Install the app and open it; the floating bar will appear immediately at the center of the screen. You will notice that the buttons are rather small and quite cramped together, but worry not – the app allows you to manage not only the size of the buttons, but also the space between them, as well as their transparency. You can change the size by specifying it in pixels.
The bar can be dragged and repositioned to any area of the screen; it does not need to be docked to a screen edge. You can set what function is executed when you long press the home key, to launch Google Now or act as the power button. If you like, you can change the set of icons that are used to represent each button by switching to icons of your choice. The orientation of the bar can be set to vertical aqs well, by unchecking the ‘Horizontal Orientation’ option. Lastly, the app can be set to automatically launch when you boot your device.
The bar is quite intelligent; if it deems that it is interfering or blocking the use of an app’s options/buttons at its current position, it repositions itself automatically to get out of the way. The only downside is that it does not remember its old position and therefore, doesn’t return to it when said app has been closed. The one improvement we’d love to see is the option to change the function of other keys, as well as more functions other than just the two you can use for the home key. The app should allow users to control volume keys as well, and also set it so that only the buttons a user needs appear in the bar. One really great use of the app could be to set the home button to work as the power button and then assign the actual power key to control the camera.