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Ever wanted to search for or define something quickly? It’s not a particularly complicated process: select the text you want, copy it, open your browser, paste and go. It is, however, more annoying than it should be.
It gets worse as the length of the sentence you’re interested in increases, especially when the application you’re using doesn’t let you selectively copy text, or when text isn’t selectable at all. Some examples of that are Hangouts or WhatsApp, which only allow you to copy the whole message, or the YouTube app where copying text is normally impossible. You then have to rely on your memory and switch back and forth between your browser and the app until you’ve finally managed to type what you want to search for. Why can’t it be as easy as hitting a button just like when copying and letting your smartphone figure the rest out?
That’s the problem XDA Senior Member PunchUp wanted to solve initially, with his Text Xposed module which added “Define”, “Search” and “Share” buttons to the contextual action bar which shows you up when you select text. He didn’t stop there, though: Text Xposed kept evolving, with new features being added. It’s now Text Aide, a powerful helper app that can be installed on any 4.0+ Android device, with or without root. An Xposed module is still provided and adds some useful features, but it’s completely optional.
There are a few different ways to use Text Aide. The first is to directly share some text, then select one of the options provided by Text Aide in the share menu: Copy, Define, Dial, Search+, Open as URL and Speak. We’ll take a look at each in just a bit. It’s worth noting that you can customize which options show up in the share menu to disable those you don’t plan to use.
You can also enable the clipboard monitor, which makes the app perform an action whenever text is copied. Called “Copy Aide”, this feature also provides a permanent notification through which you can change the desired action or pause and resume the clipboard monitor at any time. Text Aide will try to define any text you copy by default, but you can change it so that it speaks it, launches Search+ or shows you a popup with the copied text instead. The last option is useful for messaging apps, for example, where you can only copy complete messages.
Text Aide can also directly add its own buttons to floating toolbars, a feature introduced in Marshmallow. Finally, if you’re an Xposed user, you can enable the app’s module which will allow you to select text where you normally wouldn’t be able to (e.g. WhatsApp or YouTube) by double tapping it. The Xposed module also adds shortcuts to the contextual action bar, even if you’re not on Marshmallow.
Last but not least, a search widget is also available for widget lovers. You could use it as a replacement for or an addition to your current search widget, since it’ll let you define, speak and search the web for inputted text as we’ll see in a bit. It won’t handle searching your contacts or documents, though.
What can Text Aide actually do with the text you feed it, then? A few actions are possible:
Define: as you’ve probably guessed, this looks up the meaning of the selected text and shows you the definition in a popup. Free language packs by Livio must be installed from the Play Store to use this by default, though you can also configure Text Aide to use Big Huge Thesaurus (for English only), Wikipedia or Wiktionary instead. You can switch between these at any time as well, using the overflow menu.
Enhanced Search: someone just mentioned a movie you want to check the trailer for, or a GitHub project but forgot to give you a link? Not a problem. Enhanced search, or Search+, lets you search a website of your choice with your text query. You can also add custom entries or reorder them to put your most used ones first. Search+ can either use a floating browser or your favorite browser.
Speak & Dial: these two are pretty obvious. Speak was pretty useful to me for quickly reading a few articles aloud while I directed my eyeballs somewhere else, though it could also be used to check a word’s pronunciation.
Text Aide is a great helper app, letting you do many actions related to any selected text more efficiently. It’s also completely free and free of ads. Check it out and leave your feedback in the Text Aide forum thread, or go ahead and grab it directly from the Google Play store.