Friday, December 27, 2013

Assistive Light – Enable the flashlight on your Samsung smartphone

Assistive LightIt may not be one of a smartphone’s “smart” or advanced capabilities, but turning your device into a flashlight is an incredible, useful feature. Who knows? You could end up walking down a dark alleyway carrying nothing else but your cellphone. Or maybe there’s a sudden blackout and you’d obviously need a source of illumination to guide you around. This simple tutorial will show you how to enable the flashlight feature—also known as the assistive light—on your Samsung smartphone.

How to enable Assistive Light

To begin, go to Apps drawer or tray. Proceed to the Widgets tab and browse through the available widgets until you find Assistive Light. It’s a 2-by-1 widget that’s usually positioned in the first or second page, given that the selections there are sorted alphabetically. Once you’ve located it, tap and hold it, and place it on the homescreen of your choice. Using it is as simple as tapping it once to turn it on (which will then have the LED flash at the back of your device to light up) and tapping it once more to disable it. A notification icon will also appear, conveniently letting you know that it’s on and slowly consuming your battery.

Assistive Light in Widgets app trayAssistive Light at homescreen

Which smartphones have Assistive Light?

As far as I know, Assistive Light is available in many Samsung Galaxy smartphones, including the S3, S4 and the Note line. I made this guide using my Note 2 phablet that I recently updated to Android 4.3 Jelly Bean. Tablets also possibly have the widget available out of the box. There seems to be no uniformity on which Android versions have Assistive Light. It’s sometimes found in an older version, then somehow removed in a later version, and present once again in a more recent Android build.

Update (5/18/2014): I just updated my Note 2 to 4.4 KitKat. In this new version of Android, the Assistive Light widget is now called the Torch. It’s easy to identify as it uses a light bulb icon.

Other ways to turn your smartphone into a flashlight

Before I learned about assistive light (which I wouldn’t have known if I didn’t go the trouble of exploring every aspect of my Galaxy Note 2), I used to improvise by using the camera app. Of course, this cannot be done via the front-facing shooter and if the rear-facing camera doesn’t have a LED flash.

Note that this method is more demanding to your device’s battery, as it not only uses the flash but also the camera sensor. The LED flash doesn’t even stay on, unless you set it as such while recording a video.

A more practical solution when you don’t have Assistive Light in your smartphone is to use a downloadable app from the Google Play Store. One of the simpler ones is Torch – Tiny Flashlight. If you want more settings with your flashlight, try Super-Bright LED Torch.

Flashlight apps at Google Play Store