Got a kid, favorite contact, family member, someone you basically want a one-tap option to reach? You can add them to your home screen as icons that either immediately calls, or open up your text messaging app. The latter brings you right into their conversation with pretty much no effort, and the former uses your phone as a phone.
TL;DR – long press empty space, add widget, scroll to contacts, then direct dial or direct message. Same with Google Voice in a few days.
Direct Dial will initiate a call when you’ve tapped it once, no asking whether you want to dial, so make sure it’s somewhere you’re not accidentally going to hit it. Direct Message icon will pop open your last text chat with them.
There’s nothing special you need to know. I could list about thirty good reasons for having this and a whole bunch that aren’t particularly any use, but yeah, this added a little thing I needed for a kid’s phone I’m playing with and that’s about that.
If you use Google Voice you can also do that as of the next upgrade (which supposedly is out now, but you’ll get it when you get it). For if you’ve got those people you call on GV (think disconnected kid’s phone, which is how I got onto this today) and those you call using carrier minutes (think disconnected kid’s phone that has a SIM for emergencies but would really rather they use Google Voice and WiFi as that’s $3 extra a month on Ting! when you use minute 1).
If this helped you out, feel free to toss a quarter to my kid’s virtual lemonade/hot chocolate stand.