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Air Button adds handy shortcuts to NFC-enabled phones

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The idea of customizable add-on buttons for smartphones isn't exactly new. First we had Pressy (which was quickly cloned by Xiaomi and others), then the Dimple NFC button pad came along. So what's next? Well, a Hong Kong startup thinks Dimple has space for improvement, which leads us to the Air Button. As the name suggests, this is yet another battery-less button that also makes use of -- and without interfering with -- NFC on the back of many Android devices, except it doesn't have a memory limitation as the commands are stored in the app, so you can assign literally as many actions and apps as you want. For instance, you can set it to be an emergency button that toggles an audio alert, a flashlight and a phone call at the same time. Or you can have a sports mode button that starts playing music as well as launching your preferred fitness app.

Gallery: Air Button hands-on | 7 Photos

Other functions include Facebook check-in, free memory, record audio, take photo (can choose either the front or back camera), take video, open URL, toggle call forwarding and many more. Better yet, Air Button already works with Philips Hue, so you can use it to quickly toggle your connected lights. Oswis Wong, the creator of Air Button, added that he's already been in touch with a few other connected household device makers, so you can expect support for more brands in the near future.

The Air Button comes in two flavors: a single button version (25 mm x 25 mm; from $15) and a dual button version (30 mm x 18 mm; from $19). I liked the reassuring click on both, though I would definitely prefer having two buttons instead of just one. Need more? Fret not, as the app supports multiple Air Button pads on one device. You should be able to stick up to three of these on most Android phones with NFC, depending on how much free space you have on the back. Just watch out for phones such as the HTC One M7, M8, M9 and Huawei Mate S that can't accommodate even a single Air Button due to the nature of their NFC antenna. Another caveat is that NFC is only active when the phone is switched on, which is slightly inconvenient when you just want to instantly use your Air Button.

For those who are interested, you can head over to Kickstarter to place your order before the campaign ends in three days. Wong even promised a delivery before the holidays, which is good news for those who are thinking of getting a cheap and cheerful present for your least favorite sibling.

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