I think most of us are familiar with the interaction of holding onto a button and watching a particular value increment or cycle through at a constant speed.

However, I think it is common practice for many devices and applications these days to also incorporate a secondary interaction when you hold onto a button, which is to speed up when you hold onto it for a set amount of time.

For example, the volume button or control when pressed once will increment the value by one. When you press and hold for over a set amount of time (e.g. 1 second) then the value will increase much faster in a shorter period of time.

What is the term used to describe this design pattern or interaction? Are there other variations of this interaction that exists (i.e. other than just speeding up)?

  • Now I'm curious... I'm not familiar with the action you described. Can you give us a concrete example? – Madalina Taina Nov 8 '18 at 5:58
  • @MadalinaTaina I added the example of the volume control button/UI element in my question. – Michael Lai Nov 8 '18 at 13:39
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    “Touch and hold” is a common gesture on Android devices :). This is the term for the interaction, but for the result, the incrementation of time I didn’t see a specific term. – Madalina Taina Nov 8 '18 at 15:47
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    The first thing that popped into my mind is "fast forward" action when long-pressing ">>" button on an old video or music player. But this pattern is applied to a physical button as well as your example with volume control. Anyway, maybe a term you a looking for is Fast Forward? – An Lev Nov 8 '18 at 17:44
  • @AnLev I am looking for an increase in the speed of increments, which applies more to things like volume settings rather than time based, but that's a good point for me to differentiate :) – Michael Lai Nov 8 '18 at 23:38

A bit of Android background. If I am understanding correctly: yes, this is a known interaction/gesture, that goes under the names of "long press", "long tap" or "long click". I haven't personally come across the usage that you're describing ("speeding up things"), however that seems like a good use case.

Ideally, according to Material Design principles, long clicks should reveal some sort of contextual menu or additional modes (such as selection mode for example, where you could edit or remove the item you selected) or actions.

From my personal experience the usage I described tends to be more and more obsolete, as designers tend to use three vertical dots to show additional actions. That's because long press actions are not always easily discoverable.

That being said, I think the speeding up action is still a good use case, as it saves user the time to increment the value. Just make sure your users know about it!

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  • +1 I am aware of the term 'long press', but I was after a specific term that describes a long press/press & hold being used to speed up an action. I like the explanation provided and some of the design implications. – Michael Lai Nov 8 '18 at 13:40

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