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Notes about Android

Soft buttons not working

Found this on Nexus 4 phone with Android 5. The back and other soft buttons stopped responding. Even though this is likely a hardware problem, there is a workaround to "raise" the soft buttons above the non functional area of the screen digitizer.

This is how. From a command-line termal:

  1. Enable debugging (click 7 times on the release number)
  2. Enable debugging over USB (Settings -> Debugging)
  3. Connect the device to USB. Potentially switch to PTP mode if the device is not found
  4. Check if the device is visible and start shell:
adb devices
adb shell
  • Change the screen "overscan" using the window manager (wm) tool on the phone:
wm overscan 0,0,0,80

Overscan essentially adds a buffer (black bar) on any side of the screen for positive numbers. The screen extends "offscreen" for negative ones. The accepted format of overscan is:

wm overscan [reset | LEFT,TOP,RIGHT,BOTTOM]

You can either reset it to default, or set any border. In the example above it sets the bottom border to 80 pixels, enough to avoid the non-responsive section of a possibly damaged touch screen.