Earlier this week, when we caught a glimpse of the myTouch Slide, Android Guys noticed a peculiar button. As you can see in the picture above, it’s a cursive lower-case g. It’s easy to mistake for a Google button, but rather it’s called the Genius Button. It replaces the search button from other HTC models, though it performs a similar function. As Android and Me points out, it appears to activate voice input. Google has implemented voice commands in a number of its mobile applications, so it makes sense that they’d include a dedicated button on Android devices.
This is where my experience with BlackBerry comes in handy. Old BlackBerry devices used to come with one side key, dubbed the convenience key, while newer models feature two, one on each side. By default the right-side convenience key activates voice commands, so it acts in a similar capacity to the Genius Button. No one I know, however, chooses to keep the convenience key set to voice commands. It’s just not practical in most situations. Instead, there is an option to change the convenience key to activate any function on the device. This would be useful on Android.
The ability to set the Genius Button to a custom function would enable users a bit more control over the device. On the BlackBerry there are many applications that create shortcuts. Using the convenience key to activate this type of application is useful because it means fewer keystrokes in general. I use one of my convenience keys to activate a screenshot application. That would also be useful on Android.
The idea of a dedicated button on the device is a great idea, though it’s not such a great idea to keep it locked to one function. Some people simply do not prefer voice input. It would be helpful, then, if those people can customize the Genius Button to perform a common function. I don’t see the harm in that.