Jul 7th, 2013

wave control

Uniquely Android is a series we started that shines the spotlight on those apps that take advantage of the unique capabilities of the platform and provide an experience that you wouldn’t find in most other phones. Previously, we have featured Plug In LauncherAirDroidShushLlamaSwiftkey 3SwipePadWidgetsoid2.xUnified RemoteAirCalcWiFi KeyboardPuzzle Alarm ClockNotif Mac RemoteEverything.me LauncherReadItToMeAutomateIt and Friday.

Reading about some of the coverage around Windows 8.1, I noticed a particular app that seemed a bit familiar: the Food and Drink app.

Essentially, the app centers around providing the user with recipes and guides, but with the added element of not needing to touch the screen and instead controlling the app by “waving”. The feature, at a basic level, is nothing new. It’s been touted by Samsung for a over a year as part of their Smart TV platform and has even made it to their list of TouchWiz add-on gimmicks*.

However, it wasn’t either of those things that the app reminded me of. Typically, as part of this series, I often ask for recommendations on what to feature next week. Early on, I received a tip for Wave Control. I gave it a shot, but for some reason it didn’t work too well and hence I chose not to write about it.

The coverage of the Food and Drink app made me want to give Wave Control another shot since I thought it was a pretty cool idea, especially at the time it came out. I’m glad I did, because Wave Control is now an essential part of my Android experience while driving.

Wave Control differs from Microsoft’s and Samsung’s implementations in that it relies on the proximity sensor, and not on the camera, which means there are limitations but also better battery life. Out of the box, Wave Control allows you to control your music. Hovering your hand a couple inches above your proximity sensor toggles your music on or off. Waving your hand skips the music to the next track.

Unfortunately, due to the use of the proximity sensor, the app cannot determine which direction are you waving in. It instead relies on the number of waves, one wave for the next song, two for the previous, and three times to enable or disable the controls. I couldn’t get multiple waves to work for me.

The app can also be used to silence an incoming call (by hovering) or answering/dismissing a call (by waving). There are also multiple packs that can be bought, such as an assignable actions one to choose your custom controls, to toggle your screen on or off, to launch an installed app, or open the multitasker as well as cycle through opened apps with a wave. Going pro gives you access to all these packs, as well as any additional that the developer releases.

As I mentioned, my experience with the app wasn’t perfect. It is good enough for me to always want it running when I’m driving. On the whole, though, I wish Google would add native non-touch controls to Android for developers to take advantage of. They could be implemented in a manner similar to D-pad controls, or maybe also on the system level for cycling through apps as Wave Control has done. I can’t think of a whole lot of use cases, but as we saw with Kinect’s release, it might give developers a reason to think of out of the box.

To get Wave Control, visit this link. Also, I’d love to know from you if there’s any app that I haven’t covered as part of the Uniquely Android series that I should have a look at.

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