The Jelly Bean app picker saga continues! This time, there's an awesome new shortcut for those of us that are annoyed with the new-style picker that debuted in Jelly Bean 4.1. If you're drawing a blank, allow me to refresh your memory:

Gratuitous Backstory


The app picker is the thing that pops up when more than one app can handle an action. The left picture is what it used to look like in ICS, the right picture is what it changed to in Jelly Bean. The look of it isn't what we're concerned about, though, it's the function. The ICS version would go to your app of choice with 1 tap; the new Jelly Bean version requires 2, one for the app, and one for "Always" or "Just Once." This annoyed those of us who use it as an "open with" window, so that we can easily use different apps for different situation. It was slower.

If you also remember, I complained about this in a 4.1 GTKA, and Adam Powell, an Android framework engineer, was nice enough to give us Google's thought process behind the new picker. They basically wanted to give the "Always" and "Just Once" options equal weight, and force users to explicitly pick one. When I said this slowed down power users who liked having an easy-to-use "open with" dialog for certain situations, Adam only said "We hear you. Watch this space."

Actual Protip

In 4.2 Adam Powell came through! He stopped by the G+ comments of our Nexus 4 review to clue us in to a cool new feature in Android 4.2:


That's right! In Android 4.2, a double tap will allow you to skip the "Always/Just Once" button and get right into your app. That's much faster than the "Always/Just Once" decision, and a happy medium between Google's need to present "Always" and "Just Once" on even footing, and the power user's desirer to have an easy "open with" window.

If you want to see it in action, check out this video:

Scratch another one off the list of things I can't stand about Android. I've been noticing that list is dwindling pretty quickly...

Thanks for the tip Adam! You rock!

Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
  • Sorian

    Isn't that rule from Zombieland? Edit: Yes it is, just looked it up. watched the movie once

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii


      Edit: Doh, just saw the thumb.

  • AK

    That's cute.

  • Zaeem Shahzad

    Google is run by amazing people! :D

  • Tijuanatom

    Um... it's still two taps, where's the savings?

    • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

      You can do two taps very very quickly.

      • tanknspank

        Do people just find the smallest things to nit pick about anymore? Like pressing the app then just once really inconvenienced you so much more... You do it a few times and it's a habit nearly as fast as the old just taping the app.

        • GazaIan

          This. This all the way.

    • PhilNelwyn

      If you argue that double tapping the same spot doesn't save you much time compared to tapping two different buttons, I'll say that two taps don't make you lose much time compared to a single tap, we're not talking minutes here... not even seconds.
      A double tap is a little faster and much more convenient in my opinion.

    • Thatguyfromvienna

      I don't see myself saving much time this way either.

      What I do like about it is that a few times, I unintentionally hit the "always" button when I actually wanted to use "just once" instead, which made me enter the system settings and reverse my mistake.

      That won't happen anymore.

      • http://twitter.com/homncruse Aaron Burke

        That's the same gain I see in the change. The taps aren't reduced, but you've reduced the probability of UI blunders by the user.

    • raazman

      Umm, then hit the always use button and you'll have ZERO taps. Wow, seriously? Let's all hold hands and cry with you...jeez.

    • Tee

      Does the douple tap equal to 'just once' or 'always'? Or neither one?

      • PhilNelwyn

        Just once.

    • itznfb

      Even if it's not a time saving it is a usability saving. This type of functionality is what is needed in order to make touch screens in cars usable. Intuitive UI design. If anyone has ever used a touch screen in a car you know what I'm talking about....

  • http://www.facebook.com/Ziplock9000 John Stock

    Pro tip? Firstly this is obvious.. secondly this is nothing new to the previous version

    • http://twitter.com/redbullcat Phil Oakley

      It's not obvious and it is new. In 4.1 you can't double tap for a selection.

    • Tommy Thompson

      You are so mad.

  • Guest

    I'd still prefer a checkbox to remember that selection so I wouldn't have to pick it every single time I launch something.

    • nuke3ae

      If you click always it remembers your selection....

      • Scott

        I knew that, don't ask me why I posted what I posted. Now I look like an idiot.

        • Thatguyfromvienna

          You posted as "guest" before so your actual mistake was revealing your identity. ;)

          • Scott

            Ha, I actually deleted it thinking it would actually delete the post, not just who wrote it lmao

        • http://twitter.com/homncruse Aaron Burke

          Quick, edit this post to say something in disagreement with nuke3ae, so you can hide your shame!

          • http://twitter.com/odsamuels Omar D. Samuels

            How do you revert to having the option once you have selected "Always"?

          • http://twitter.com/homncruse Aaron Burke


  • drbobb

    Great. Now let's just wait until I'm able to get a phone with 4.2. Or run 4.2 on a phone I own.

    I'm afraid it's gonna be a long wait..

    • http://www.facebook.com/rmkattan Rami Kattan

      Or wait for someone to port this modification to JB 4.1

  • firethorn

    I wish the app picker still had a dark background. The white one is too jarring on top of the generally dark Holo UI in my opinion.

  • Flaime DeFeo

    Is anybody else seeing a different skin to the YouTube player that is embed in this post?

    • Justin Swanson

      Yeah, changes rolling out maybe? I thought it was some wacky player at first.

    • Guest

      agreed. Thought it was a different streaming service for a minute.

  • smoothjimmyred

    This problem isn't limited to android. Google has at least three different UI's for contacts. It looks different depending on whether you access it through gmail, voice, or by navigating to contacts.google.com.

    • smoothjimmyred

      wrong article, sorry

  • Matthew Fry

    I loved but secretly hated your android complaints post. Now that I know what the back button/top left icon thing is supposed to do, all I do is notice it sucking.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nikhilkaduskar Nikhil Kaduskar

    And i just found out that in 4.1.1 if you long press the apps in this popup, it takes you to the App Info screen!

  • Henrique Melissopoulos

    So... why we need a "Just once" button? Doesn't make sense now.

    • http://profiles.google.com/murphy2712 Julien D.

      Because double tap is not obvious.

  • Mix

    Perfect. Because i was already taping twice in 4.1.1 and I was surprised to see double-tap wasn't working already. For these details I love in Android. The green robot gets all my love since begining 2009!

  • Eric G

    First: Check-box for Always and single tab for Just once.

    Second: Two buttons for Always and Just once. Not for the convenience, but to make the steps clear (for first time users???).

    Third: Addition of double tab for Just Once. For bringing back convenience. But that's totally nor clear. It's a hidden feature. And why two methods for the same action. And you have the same amount of tabs to do for both methods.

    Future Fourth, Single tab for Just Once and check-box for Always. Happy, back to start. Convenient and clear. In my opinion also the best solution. That Google incorporate double tab on the same icon means that they also have doubts about the Second point, but do not want to admit that the First point was better.

  • John

    Anyone had issues getting some apps to be the default(like stick) for a certain actions in 4.1/4.1.x ?

  • John

    if anyone wants the old style app picker in ICS, you can get this to change it:

    App Picker Classic

  • http://twitter.com/Schnurf73 Schnurf

    Hello how do I contact google dev team to offer some concept for jelly beam?

  • http://profiles.google.com/k3gman Keg Man

    What they need to fix is the fact that once an app updates, it is no longer the "always" selection. It makes quality developers who update their apps regularly somewhat annoying sometimes.

  • David Hollingshead

    How is this scratching it off the list? You still have to tap twice. Some actions I always want the choice and so I still have to always tap twice. Google needs to stop pandering to people who don't read what's in front of them. This is essentially pandering to idiots. Put Andy Rubin back in charge of Android UX... he knew how to make a sensible interface.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jonathan.brune.14 Jonathan Brune


  • graylion

    Sorry, the app picker falls several light years short for me in two specific fields - messaging and calling. If I select "always" in one of those cases this selection gets applied across all my contacts. Sorry, that's just daft.

    I'll give you an example: I have Zoiper, Skype and WhatsApp installed on my phone. Now when I send somebody a message, I want to use WA for those as have it, Skype for those as have it and be able to select a preference for those cases where somebody has both. Also, if my preference is Skype, but person is not logged in, it should be smart enough to then go WA. If I am roaming or my data connection is disable for other reasons, it should use SMS. It's called a Smartphone by Jove! Currently I feel like I am in the 70s. the device is that daft.

    Similar rules apply for calls.

    Oh and also I want to be able to make this choice individually for every contact, either rule based, as outlined above, or just on my personal whim. And I want to be able to override said choice on a case-by-case basis, again based on my personal whim. Double tapping in order to avoid making an idiotic and not easily reset general setting is a kludge at best.


  • goosmoo

    I love you. Thanks for posting this tip! A Google search for this exact problem led me here, and now I can stop getting annoyed with the always / just once buttons. Cheers!

  • Ron Lawrence

    I wanted a way to quickly select between the phone dialer and my VoIP app dialer when the phone was ringing, Oddly, the app picker seemed to work for all other apps except the dialers.