Touch Inputs for the Android

The primary method of user input on Android-powered devices -- such as smartphones and tablets -- is a touchscreen. The Android operating system has a collection of gesture commands built into it that can be employed by any games or applications, allowing you to control them using only the touchscreen. Understanding the basic gesture and touch inputs can improve your experience with an Android device.

  1. Tapping

    • The most basic and widely-used touch control in Android games and apps is tapping. In more traditional terms this is the touchscreen equivalent of pressing a button, though on Android devices the button isn't a physical actuator. The button itself is displayed on the screen, which is calibrated so that tapping the touchscreen in the same place will register as a button press. The button may be displayed as a character in a game, part of the layout in an application or any other feature that is activated by tapping it on the touchscreen.

    Swiping

    • Many games and apps -- and the Android device's native interface screens -- are displayed using pages. Swiping a finger across the touchscreen, from side to side or top to bottom, scrolls the display in the appropriate direction to move between these pages. The swiping gesture manipulates the contents of the display as though your finger is in direct contact with whatever is on the screen and moves it around while the device itself remains physically stationary.

    Pressing

    • While tapping immediately activates a button, some controls may offer additional options when a button -- or other item on the screen -- is touched, such as opening a web link in a new tab, copying or pasting text, searching for specific phrases or launching an email. Pressing and holding a button, or any other interactive object displayed on the screen, delays immediate activation and opens a context menu providing you with other functions that can be performed. Choosing an option after pressing and holding the touchscreen is achieved by keeping your finger in contact with the display, sliding it to the desired option, then releasing it.

    Multi-Touch

    • The touchscreens of most Android devices can detect multiple points of contact at once. This technology is useful for including multi-touch gestures in games and apps. For example, placing the thumb and forefinger in different areas of the screen and pinching them together zooms into the contents of the display. Reversing this action zooms back out. Other multi-touch gestures, such as tapping or swiping with several fingers at once, are also available in some applications.

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