HTC’s Edge Sense might be one of the most underrated features on any smartphone in 2019. It debuted on the HTC U11 back in 2017, and a version of it also made it to the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 3, though only for Google Assistant integration. Then, HTC launched the U12 Plus in 2018 with an improved version of Edge Sense. The feature is not available on the HTC U12 Life.
Let’s take a look at how it works and what you can do with it.
How does HTC Edge Sense work?
The HTC U11 and U12 Plus have pressure sensors embedded in the phones’ left and right edges. Squeeze the phone, the sensors register it as a key press, and the phone performs a command. You can set these commands in the Settings menu. These commands can do simple things like enable to flashlight, or even open an app.
The Google Pixel 2 and 3 line use very similar sensors, but it only works for opening Google Assistant. The pressure sensitivity is adjustable for both Google and HTC devices, though.
It’s a neat little idea. People hold their phones in such a way that squeezing is often easier and faster than many other device controls. This is especially true for something like a flashlight toggle where you usually have to unlock the display and open the quick settings.
How to set up Edge Sense
The setup process for Edge Sense is actually quite easy.
Just go to the Settings menu, scroll down until you find Edge Sense, and toggle it on. From there, the feature works with its default settings, but you can change those to as you like.
Opening the Edge Sense option in the Settings menu presents you with a simple screen with a few options.
The first option lets you adjust your short squeeze action, letting you pick the squeeze force level and what the action actually does. There aren’t a ton of options, but you can set it to open any app and there are some toggles and other useful controls.
The second option lets you adjust the squeeze and hold function. This works the same as the short squeeze setup — it just lets you have two distinct actions based on the duration of the squeeze.
You can set Edge Sense to launch any app, open Edge Launcher, open either HTC Alexa or your default Assistant app, take a screenshot, turn the flashlight on or off, activate a voice recording, engaging the Wi-Fi hotspot, play or pause music, or even just function as a back button.
After you’ve set everything up, you should have a short squeeze action that does a thing and a separate long squeeze action that does a separate thing. You can change the actions whenever you want.
Advanced HTC Edge Sense controls
Now that we’ve got the basics out of the way, let’s look at the more advanced settings. Edge Sense offers a few extra features with more specific functions. Let’s briefly go over those.
- In-app squeeze: This function lets you assign a specific action inside of a specific app. You can squeeze to take a photo in the camera app or squeeze while the keyboard is showing to enable voice-to-text. HTC has a variety of actions built in for the stock apps, as well as extras like Google Photos, Google Maps, Instagram, and Facebook. There is also a beta program for adding your own in-app squeeze controls, but it is a little bit more complicated.
- Holding gesture: The Holding Gesture feature is super simple in practice, but a little difficult to explain. Basically, the phone uses different auto-rotate and screen dimming settings based on how you’re holding the phone (vertical or landscape). This one isn’t overly exciting, but it disables auto-rotate while laying in bed and that can be useful.
- Double-tap action: The sensors on the sides of this phone are sensitive enough to where you can tap it like a button. This setting lets you double tap the edge of your screen on either side to perform an action. It functions just like the squeeze feature, so you can set different actions for a short squeeze, a long squeeze, and a double tap of the side of your phone.
There are actually a ton of potential uses between the short and long squeezes, the in-app squeezes, and the double tap Edge Sense feature. When all is said and done, users can use Edge Sense to perform three general actions and over a dozen in-app actions with even more options if you want to use the in-app squeeze beta feature.
Other HTC Edge Sense features
Most of the desirable Edge Sense functions are things you can do elsewhere in the UI. For instance, the flashlight toggle or the Wi-Fi hotspot toggle are both in the Quick Settings. For the most part, Edge Sense adds convenience, rather than a new thing. However, it has some neat tricks.
- Edge Launcher: Edge Launcher is very similar to Samsung’s Edge Panels. It’s a launcher that’s activated with Edge Sense, which you can heavily customize to include apps you frequently launch or toggles you frequently use. The outer ring has six spots and the inner one has five. There is also a second page you can spin around and access. In total it has 22 spaces for apps and toggles.
- HTC Alexa: This is actually just Amazon Alexa. It functions like Alexa normally does on devices that use it. You must sign in with an Amazon account to use it.
- HTC Sense Companion: This feature looks at your phone usage, location, and other information to recommend various things to you. We honestly didn’t enjoy using this as Google Assistant does a similar thing better and less intrusively.
Alexa and HTC Sense Companion function without Edge Sense, but it’s definitely the best way to access them. Edge Launcher seems to be solely available in Edge Sense and we actually really like it. We only mentioned all three because it’s obvious HTC wants you to use them with Edge Sense.
Of course, you can use this technology however you like, but if you’re looking for ideas, we can help. Here are our recommendations:
- Short squeeze: The short squeeze should be something you use all the time. We use the flashlight toggle for this one, but shutterbugs may want a quicker camera launch (if your phone doesn’t have a double-tap to launch the camera feature). HTC Alexa or Google Assistant also aren’t bad choices here, either.
- Long squeeze: We recommend using this for less common, but still useful options. We bounced back and forth between the Edge Launcher and the screenshot function for this one. Other decent ideas include launching an app you frequently use or using it to toggle accessibility on or off.
- Double tap: Double tap is a weird case. It accidentally engages sometimes if you jiggle the phone around in your hand. We wouldn’t recommend it for something like a flashlight toggle or a screenshot function because the accidental toggles will get on your nerves. Set it to open something naughty if you feel like living dangerously.
- In-app squeeze: This is individually customizable with the beta program. However, we recommend using it in the camera app for taking photos with a squeeze at the very minimum. It makes selfies much easier. Squeezing to snooze an alarm in the Clock app and squeezing to answer a phone call are also excellent options.
HTC’s Edge Sense is quite an awesome little feature. Many OEMs add extra input with an extra button or gesture controls. Those are perfectly fine, but Edge Sense adds extra functionality without being intrusive or even changing the design or shape of the phone. That’s impressive, especially since both Apple and Android phones are moving to a more gesture control style UI. If you have a newer HTC phone, you should definitely be using Edge Sense.