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Last September, Apple's iPhone 15 Pro models debuted with a new customizable Action button, offering faster access to a handful of functions, as well as the ability to assign Shortcuts. Apple is poised to include the feature on all upcoming iPhone 16 models, so we asked iPhone 15 Pro users what their experience has been with the additional button so far.

iPhone-15-Pro-Action-Button-Translate.jpg

The Action button replaces the switch that activates Ring and Silent on Apple's iPhone 15 Pro models, while the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus models retain the traditional Ring/Silent switch. By default, the Action button still activates these two functions via a long press, but users can also make it activate a range of other functions, including quickly opening the camera app or enabling the flashlight, activating Voice Memos, Focus modes, Translate, and accessibility features like Magnifier.

Of around 7,000 MacRumors readers who responded to our poll on social media, just over half (50.6%) said they often forgot the Action button is even there, while over a quarter of respondents (26.8%) said they use the Action button "occasionally." Based on readers who commented, most occasional users assigned the camera or flashlight to the Action button – functions that are also easily accessible via the Lock screen. A subsection of users in the same category said they have the Action button set to activate/deactivate Mute, to mimic the physical Mute switch it replaced.
Some respondents (12.6%) agreed with the description that the Action button is a "game changer." Most users in this category used it to activate custom Shortcuts, which allowed for novel uses like skipping forward in podcasts, adding to-dos, prompting ChatGPT, activating smart lights, or opening a folder. Some in this category simply appreciated the fact that it saved them time accessing more standard functions that would otherwise involve navigating through onscreen menus.

The rest of our poll respondents (10%) agreed that the Action button was something of a "volume decoy," implying that they often pressed it by accident when they intended to adjust audio levels via the volume buttons, usually when their iPhone was in a pocket or purse.


Our social media poll represents a small, self-selecting cohort of iPhone 15 Pro users. It is also an example of convenience sampling, and by no means statistically sound. Even so, it seems the case could be made that many people have had trouble finding a dedicated use case for the Action button.

Assigning the button to the camera appears to be the most popular way to increase the likelihood that it gets used. Launching the camera app like this avoids having to press or swipe the Lock Screen or select the Camera app from the Home screen. However, Apple is rumored to be adding a "Capture button" to the iPhone 16 for video recording, so the Action button might get less useful for those who use it for this purpose.

Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence suggests there is a fair amount of frustration among "power users" that Apple has not added more flexibility to the way the Action button works. Currently the button only responds to a long press, but more sophisticated iPhone users want a built-in ability to set different customizations for short presses, double-presses, and triple presses.
So what do you think of the Action button? Is it a hit or miss for Apple? Let us know your thoughts and any favorite use cases in the comments.

Article Link: All iPhone 16 Models to Feature Action Button, But Usefulness Debated
 

iLoveDeveloping

Suspended
Sep 24, 2009
596
2,366
Ireland
Ye it’s not really useful. Use it for opening the camera but that’s on the Lock Screen anyway. So is flashlight, the only other thing I’d use it for. So makes it pointless. Also the action button on the Apple Watch Ultra 2 is even more useless. I don’t use it for workouts so it’s set to flash light. Never use the thing. Such a waste of buttons.
 

Lotuskid

macrumors regular
May 23, 2010
241
267
i assigned it to one of my most used apps when i'm connected to wifi - the hue app to control the lights in my apartment. And when i'm not connected to my home wifi it opens the camera app.

so i happen to use it daily to open up the hue app, but almost never when i'm not at home.

it's basically allowed me to replace an app on my home screen so i do find it useful but the overall utility for me isn't great.
 
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bscheffel

macrumors 6502
Jul 17, 2008
354
662
the button is in a very awkward location which limits how much I use it. The upcoming capture button is much lower on the iPhone and easier to press when holding iPhone with one hand.
 

thejadedmonkey

macrumors G3
May 28, 2005
9,193
3,390
Pennsylvania
It suffers from the same problem that the touchbar above the keyboard did; It's not useful as implemented, but Apple is too afraid to go all-in on it because it needs to also be able to act as a replacement for the mute toggle.

Had the touchbad had the ability to "pin" an application to it, so that I could e.g. always access my Spotify settings, it might have been useful. But to do that, would mean permanently giving up the function keys.

The action button is the same. They should go all in with it, as an additional button. Not as a replacement for the mute toggle.
 

Zapski

macrumors member
Jul 19, 2021
36
120
After months of it just being mute, I now have it set as a Personal Focus button, which is essentially a mute for all the notifications coming to my watch. Comes in handy during All Team meetings to silence all the constant notifications coming through to my watch from the chat

So I use it once every few months or so. Previously I just took off my watch.

Not that useful, tbh ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
 
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rymc02

macrumors member
Jul 13, 2021
41
101
I'm surprised they don't have more actions associated with the button. Like double tap and triple tap for additional functions. Hell you can double tap and triple tap the phone itself for different actions, why can't you do that with a button? Apple is so weird about stuff like this.
 

N82

macrumors member
Oct 4, 2020
32
38
I use the Quick Action button to switch focus mode. But do I need that button? No.
 

satchmo

macrumors 603
Aug 6, 2008
5,025
5,707
Canada
I'm sure if one has a need for a specific action, it will be of some utility.

It becomes habitual like swiping up to unlock.
 
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ignatius345

macrumors 604
Aug 20, 2015
7,012
11,532
I'm one of the "using it as a substitute for the Mute switch" people because I just need a quick and tactile-only way to do that.

Maybe Apple considers it too fiddly, but I wish you could double- or even triple-press that Action button for additional functions.
 
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Yammabot

macrumors regular
May 15, 2017
211
239
Northern NJ
Honestly can we leave the new iPhone rumors until August? No need to comment on an item not due for months and at Apples current rate of failure to deliver, maybe not till next year!
 

okkibs

macrumors 6502a
Sep 17, 2022
950
882
I assigned it to open a list on long press (with the shortcut app, to make it a list select "choose from menu") that I can populate with shortcuts like the mute (ring/silent) toggle as well as to quickly create new appointments, access the passwords page in settings or open apps.

It basically frees up the homescreen or doubles as a second homescreen app selector which I prefer over multiple homescreen swipes and cluttered with all the app icons. That freed space can then be used for widgets or just left empty for a cleaner look.

The only problem I have with the action button is that it exclusively works with a long press. It's under a second to respond but quickly tapping the button does nothing. It is set that way to prevent accidental presses but there should be a choice for short vs long press.

One advantage of the action button for me is that I can create an appointment on the lock screen. It's just way faster than pulling up and then navigating to creating an appointment. That can also be used to quickly write down a short note.

You can also assign it to open a list of all installed apps that you can then scroll through from any screen. Saves time over having to go back to the homescreen and swiping.

I find it very useful but I absolutely agree that it's very Apple not to allow double pressing for a separate action.

They should go all in with it, as an additional button. Not as a replacement for the mute toggle.
It can do both actually, as described above.
 
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jntdroid

macrumors 6502a
Oct 12, 2011
937
1,286
I'm a person that used the mute switch a lot, so I use the action button a lot as well for the same function. It's faster/easier to use than the mute switch, and now that I'm used to it, it would be hard to go back (obviously "hard" being too strong of a word there lol)

I also agree that programing 1/2/3 click options would be pretty cool.
 
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coplt

macrumors newbie
Nov 26, 2023
7
12
It is incredibly useful if you spend a lot of time in the winter with mittens and a buff taking pictures. Touch doesn’t work, and faceid doesn’t work.

It goes from a frigid 60 second process (everything off then back on) to seconds using the button. It uses almost no space and enables a pretty large use-case in cold climates.
 
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