We all know about the dramas that can be inflamed by a broken smartphone screen. Although in many cases the damage is more to the ego, as the problem is simply cosmetic, if your phone has taken a severe enough thwacking the layer with the touch sensors can break and even shards of the screen be lost. Due purely to gravity, the base of the device tends to take the most knocks, making the bottom buttons, whether virtual or physical, most prone to getting messed up. Luckily, there’s Simple Control, a useful app to squeeze a bit more life out of a broken phone by adding a pop-out button bar anywhere on your screen.
The attached screenshot provides a lot of food for thought. When you pick up your smartphone with one hand, your thumb is your pointer, and the active space is limited to a side border and one bottom corner depending on whether you’re left- or right-handed. The result is that if you use the side layout for the buttons, you’ll likely get to the point that you find the original layout odd. In other words, more than a simple resource for solving a hardware problem, this app could end up serving purely UX-related purposes. Your Correspondent began using it out of necessity and ended up embracing it without strictly needing it any longer.
When you start the app it will ask you for access permissions, and then proceed to set the screen area where the menu will appear. This layout is not permanent – it activates when you tap the selected area and disappears again after a few seconds of not being used. All the options related to fading, transparency, and color are fully configurable, and can adapt the experience as needed.
If you’re not sure you like the rectangular format, you can always look for similar apps like Handy Soft Keys, which offers a small radial menu that might be more comfortable or natural for lots of people. Something out there for everybody.