iPhone Action Button on iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max

Customize the Action button on the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max.

 The iPhone 15 Pro has introduced a game-changing addition this year, and it's not just about its lighter titanium frame, the new A17 Pro processor, or the enhanced camera system, although these are certainly noteworthy. What has caught my attention is the revolutionary "Action Button" – a tiny button above the volume controls that replaces the traditional mute switch present on every iPhone since its inception.

iPhone Action Button on iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max

The Action Button represents a substantial hardware upgrade for the iPhone series despite its seemingly simplistic nature as a mere button. Its real power lies in its programmability, which opens up new possibilities for using your iPhone.

Apple initially showcased the Action Button when unveiling the iPhone 15 Pro, and it garnered significant attention in subsequent reviews, including our own. However, when users got their hands on the iPhone 15 Pro, they fully realized this button's potential.

By default, the button directly replaces the old mute switch, allowing you to adjust the ringer settings on your phone. In the iPhone's Settings app, you can configure it to perform various other functions, such as activating the flashlight, launching the camera, or enabling Do Not Disturb mode. However, the true magic of the Action Button is unleashed when you pair it with Apple's customizable Shortcuts app. With this combination, you can streamline and expedite virtually any action on your phone more efficiently and conveniently.

While the Settings app suggests some basic shortcuts for the Action Button, the real excitement comes when you create custom shortcuts. You can program the Action Button to display a menu of additional shortcuts, each of which can be triggered with a simple tap on the screen. These shortcuts can vary based on location, time of day, or device orientation. The only limit is your creativity and willingness to engage with the sometimes frustrating and tedious Shortcuts app (don't worry; we have some helpful tips below).

My personal Action Button setup includes a list of shortcuts that enable me to perform a wide range of actions, including the fundamental tasks of adjusting ringer settings, activating the flashlight, and launching the camera. I can also swiftly add functions to my Todoist list, create calendar events in Fantastical, lock screen rotation, jot down quick notes, identify songs with Shazam, resume the last playlist or podcast I was listening to, and control various smart home devices, all without navigating to the iPhone's home screen.

I didn't develop this setup independently; YouTuber Stephen Robles provided an excellent tutorial on crafting complex shortcuts with a menu for the Action Button, which I adapted to suit my needs. There are countless other innovative ways to utilize the Action Button users share on platforms like Twitter, Threads, and Mastodon, offering ample inspiration (or outright copying) opportunities.

While the Action Button is undoubtedly impressive, there's room for improvement. Currently, it only supports long-press actions. It would be fantastic if Apple allowed configuration for short and double presses to perform specific tasks, similar to what's possible with the power button on the opposite side of the phone. Additionally, programming tasks in Shortcuts can test patience and require a certain level of technical knowledge. The app can be buggy, and if you attempt to launch complex or lengthy shortcuts from the lock screen, they may time out and fail. (Pro tip: If you can access a Mac, consider doing most of the shortcut creation work and syncing it with your iPhone via iCloud. Starting with a template created by someone else can also save you time and frustration.)

For those with an iPhone 15 Pro Max, reaching the button might be inconvenient due to its high placement on the phone's left side. Even the standard iPhone 15 Pro could benefit from relocating the button below the volume buttons, a change that Apple may consider in future iterations.

In summary, the Action Button has transformed my iPhone 15 Pro into a versatile computer, far more than just another incremental smartphone. Its customization options and ease of use surpass other hardware features on the phone, making it a faster, more reliable, and more convenient alternative to accessing similar shortcuts through the lock screen or home screen widgets or configuring the Back Tap function in accessibility settings. In my 17 years of using iPhones, the Action Button ranks alongside Face ID, Apple Pay, and video recording as one of the features that has significantly altered how I use my phone daily. I now hope for a similar programmable button on all my devices (bring back the Bixby button, Samsung, but make it customizable this time).

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