google app shortcuts 4

Android 7.1 Developer Preview 1 is here, and one of the most interesting new features it brings is app shortcuts.

The feature has been in the works for many months, but now it looks like Google is finally ready to release it to the public. Assuming that nothing goes horribly awry during beta testing, developers will probably start integrating shortcuts into their apps from December, when Android 7.1 is expected to hit the stable channel.

Some of Google’s own apps already feature app shortcuts, and if you run Android 7.1 and the Google Now launcher on your Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, or Pixel C you can try them right now.

Just long press on an app’s icon – either on the homescreen or in the app drawer – to see if it offers app shortcuts.

The idea behind app shortcuts is to provide quick access to various frequently used actions. So instead of opening an app and navigating to the right spot in the interface, users can simply long press the app icon and jump right to the desired action. It’s somehow similar to the right-click menu on Windows and exactly how the feature works on Apple devices.

google app shortcuts 1

All of the apps that we’ve found so far to feature shortcuts are, unsurprisingly, made by Google. Not every Google app has shortcuts right now, but you can expect more to be updated in the coming weeks.

While most actions are strictly utilitarian (“create a contact,” “navigate home”), there are also a few fun touches. For instance, Google Photos has an “I’m feeling lucky” option that takes you to a random day in your image archive. Hopefully, you’ll rediscover some cool memories.

Here are some shortcuts we’ve spotted so far:

  • Phone (dialer)
    • New contact
  • Messenger (SMS)
  • New conversation
    • Last used contacts (dynamically generated)
  • Chrome
    • New tab
    • New incognito tab
  • Gmail
    • Compose
  • Photos
    • I’m feeling lucky
    • Free up space
  • Clock
    • Start screen saver
    • Start stopwatch
    • Create new timer
    • Create new alarm
  • Drive
    • Search
    • Scan
    • Upload
  • Maps
    • Navigate to your set locations (e.g. Work, Home)
  • Settings
    • Battery
    • Data Usage
    • Wi-Fi
  • Camera
    • Take a video
    • Take a selfie
  • YouTube
    • Trending
    • Subscriptions
    • Search
  • Contacts
    • Add contact
  • Play Music
    • Recent activity
    • My library
    • I’m feeling lucky
  • Play Books
    • My library
    • Shop

There are several important Google apps that don’t offer app shortcuts right now, including Hangouts, Google Plus, Translate, and the Play Store app.

Perhaps the coolest thing about app shortcuts is that you can “copy” the action shortcuts from the long-press menu and turn them into standalone shortcuts that live on the homescreen. Just drag and drop them to do so.

google app shortcuts 2

For instance, you can create shortcuts to a favorite contact, to your battery settings, or to the route home in Google Maps. This was possible before with widgets and certain launchers, but now Google is making the process much easier.

Right now, app shortcuts are still a bit underwhelming, but once more developers adopt it – and come up with creative ways to use them – they could provide some real value to users. The feature could even be used in conjunction with a force sensitive screen, which would see Android catch up with iOS in this respect.

Let us know your thoughts.

Bogdan Petrovan
Bogdan is the European Managing Editor of Android Authority. He loves tech, travel, and fantasy. He wishes he had more time for two of those things. Bogdan's phone is a Nexus 6P.
  • PromethianKnight

    While it’s exciting to see such features coming out for Android, it really sucks that more than half of Android users won’t be receiving them anytime soon (if at all).
    I hate fragmentation…. :(

    • Kitty K

      im g3, D855 Uk and still on lollipop… no update available apparently.

      • Armand Bernard

        i have that model and got Marshmallow ages ago. Like maybe in march? Don’t know why you haven’t got it yet but at this point I’d just root and flash if i were you.

      • PromethianKnight

        Galaxy Note 3 here on the very first version of Lollipop….
        I know that feel….. xD

    • Yeah, I hate that Ford doesn’t install a sunroof into my 2003 Ford Explorer, even though the 2016 edition has one – how very inconsiderate of them.

      • Nick V

        I love this response too much

      • gqukyo

        You can upgrade software… hardware on the other hand…

        • Hardware/software aside, the complaint is against manufacturer support for old devices.

          • gqukyo

            Then your original comment is pointless and doesn’t apply.

          • avyoyo

            it’s not even old devices. most devices didn’t receive the N update, which is the reason why AFAIK twitter is the only non-google app that supports this new feature from Nougat.
            Such pity! I love this feature

      • PromethianKnight

        ……

        That analogy gave me cancer……

    • hojjat abdollahi

      For God sake, I have a Nexus 6, and I’m still on android 6.0.1 They were supposed to ship Android 7 last month. I’m still waiting… Ugh… I don’t want to flash…

      • PromethianKnight

        Bruh I’m on the very first version of Lollipop on my Note 3 with no future updates either officially or unofficially (because Exynos xD)
        You’re at least getting an update and can install ROMs/Xposed anyway… :p

        • hojjat abdollahi

          Well, I bought a Nexus to avoid delayed updates. You bought a Samsung, you can not complain! :)
          By the way, I enrolled in Beta program and was able to install Android N on my phone. But now I regret it. It is very slow and I liked Android M notifications better. All notifications look the same in Android N, and you have to look closely to distinguish an important notification from a game or sth…

          • PromethianKnight

            haha you have a point. I knew Samsung was gonna cut me out early, though I didn’t expect the phone update lifecycle to be this dry xD
            I tried the N-ify module on my rooted Galaxy SII on CM 13.1 and I actually kinda like the notification management better with the Nougat style; you see because they all look the same, the general interface looks more unified. And that’s a huge plus in my book at least :P

  • Sumitro Bhaumik

    Chrome : Incognito tab
    That will save me a lot of time ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    • They should put “( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)” in the description.

    • samsparkin

      Exactly!

  • Ben

    Do you have to be using it with a certain launcher? I’m not finding it working in Nova?

    • Yeah, it only works with Google Now currently.

    • icantremember

      Many of these already work in the latest Action Launcher. I even have shortcuts for Hangouts, which the article says doesn’t have any yet.

    • If you are using action launcher (pro) then this feature was introduced already around a week something. I tried Google now & it doesn’t supported any of the shortcut. (Moto G2 on Marshmallow)

  • Frankie Bloise

    so basically a copy of iOs 3D touch ?

    • Sumitro Bhaumik

      Same thing without needing a force sensitive screen

    • mark

      Long press has been around for longer – and even though it couldn’t be used for this, it can be used for lots of other things.

      And who cares. “Android might not always be first, but it refines the experience and does it when it’s right.”

    • Just_Some_Nobody

      Really? Were you born a week ago? Or are you too lazy to Google for who might have had similar technology YEARS ago?

      Seriously, Frankie, don’t be that guy. Do some research.

  • Hrishikesh Patel

    hey. BlackBerry PRIV has these feature since its launch means when BlackBerry PRIV was released with Lollipop Android OS.

  • David Weaver

    I’m curious how you’d delete or move app icons around your homescreen now since this takes over the long-press input.

    • Purian23

      You can still move and delete your apps just fine. It depends on your press input.

      • David Weaver

        I’m not sure what that means. How many ways can you touch an icon? Depends on my “press input”?

        • Purian23

          Don’t over think things. If you press and let go, you’ll see app shortcuts. If you press and hold you can rearrange or delete off the screen as usual.

          • David Weaver

            Ahh ok, that makes more sense.

        • Stefano Rickeets

          As long as you just press and hold, then let go (and not press, hold and then DRAG your finger across the screen) you’ll be presented with the options.

          • David Weaver

            I just installed it on my 5X, I really like how it works.

    • fahadayaz

      Having just tried it in the emulator, it seems to work really well.

  • mark

    Note that the coolest feature has been possible for years on Android via widgets; more generally, interactive widgets have made it not necessary to do things like peeking to get information from an application without fully opening, so Android was doing this before ios. But yes, it’s a nice addition to have the pop-up shortcuts too.

  • Adam Yusuf

    Should I ditch Nova for these shortcuts?

  • Modman

    Reinvention of right clicking. Everything old is new again. But apple is oh so innovative for renaming it 3D touch. Android had it way before but not frequently called long pressing.

  • Shivam Chatak

    Hey guys.. Just wanna ask you something. I know Galaxy S6 will get Android Nougat officially. But will it get every MR release of Nougat. I mean 7.1, 7.2, 7.x etc.. ?? Anyone??

  • Gooberry

    Aviate Launcher has this for some time already…

  • Seneru Lonath Senevirathne

    No… YouTube isn’t yet supported on my N5X

  • Seneru Lonath Senevirathne

    Calendar , Google App and Hangouts are supported!

  • jstew182

    I would love for Gmail to add a shortcut to launch directly into different email accounts.

  • Kareem

    the features look really good, but will other launchers like Nova be receiving them any time soon?

    • New beta version of Nova launcher comes today with app shortcuts support.