Recent Apps & Back Button Work-Arounds for Samsung SM-T580

Jan 1, 2022
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Apologies in advance for this very long post.

• Short Story Intro:
This is a long shot, but i am looking for some alternatives to button functions i have lost (specifically the back (arrow) & recently used app (square inside a square) buttons, on each side of the home button, at the bottom of my device).

• Long Story Intro: :
I have a Samsung Galaxy Tab A (Model SM-T580) (10"). It's an old device of mine that I haven't used in a few years, bc i upgraded. I was in a pretty major car accident recently, during which several things were broken (my nose, my humerus, some ribs, and my newer tablet, which I was using to listen to audiobooks through my car speakers with an aux cable).

The guy who hit my car took off, so I got left with a massive amount of medical bills, and a car that was totalled and needed replaced. Bottom line, my savings were wiped out, and at the moment I am still looking at months of physical therapy and recuperating from the injuries before I can return to work.

My new tablet is smashed beyond repair, and replacement is not fiscally feasible anytime soon, so I pulled out my old device (the SM-T580), figuring it would suffice for the time being.

• The Tech Problem(s), Specifically:

1) Power Button:
The power button on the old device does not work. It does nothing, no matter how long I hold it down. However, when i plugged it in to charge, the battery/charging screen came on, so I knew immedietly it was not the screen, but the power button that was the issue. After some experimentation, I found the device can be turned on if I hold down the power & volume down buttons for at least 30+ seconds. Kind of a pain, but I can live with if it means having a device for the time being.

Once fully charged and turned on, I did a factory reset, added a brand new SD card, updated everything (Android 7 is the operating system), and it seemed to function well. Except...

2) The Recent Apps & Back buttons Stopped Working:
Initially, both functioned. After the first hour, the 'recent apps' button stopped working. A few hours later, so did the 'back' button (note: they are not 3d buttons. They are the circular arrow and the box in a box buttons on each side of the home buttom (which is a 3d button) on the bottom of the device. The 3d home button works fine).

I tried to find a solution to this issue, thinking maybe it was a setting i accidently changed, but no luck. I tried finding alternatives online but no luck there either.

I tried to just use the home and app widget buttons as a work around, but this leaves multiple apps open all the time, and no way to close them unless i go to app settings and use the "Force Stop" button, which is a major pain. Especially bc I'm a tab hound, and bc I do a lot of research and note taking, so I'm frequently switching between apps. It also starts to get hinky after awhile when I use the home button/widget workaround.

• The Bottom Line:
I can't afford to have this thing fixed or replaced. And with one broken arm, I can't really attempt any repairs myself (not that I should, as I'm a novice at best with repairs). I think I paid $200 for this device, and the repairs will likely exceed that anyway. Obviously the smart answer is repair or replace, but I am not kidding, this accident wiped me out financially. The guy who hit me took off, and my liability insurance was ****, so most of the financial fallout landed on my already meagre income. I would love to replace the one that broke, but until I can, i need something and this outdated puppy is my only option.

My question: are there any alternatives for these buttons? Apps, other settings, etc? The power button thing i can live with, the back/recent apps buttons I cannot.

Ftr, I have no idea why this is happening- my guess is some kind of moisture or motherboard damage, but the device has never had any major problems. I used it for about a year, upgraded, and put it in a box in my closet, where it sat until now. I never dropped it in water or dropped it period. My closet is slightly less temp controlled than the rest of my house, which is the only theory I can come up with.

The device is not rooted. If rooting it will somehow give me alternative options to those 2 buttons, I'm down. Mostly, i just am looking for a temporary work around that will hold me over for a couple months, until I can afford to get a new device. I have a long recovery ahead of me, and reading and the tablet are pretty much my primary forms of entertainment.

Is there any workarounds for the two buttons, or am I pretty much SOL? Is this more trouble than it's worth? Am I likely to see more issues if I keep using it? Any thoughts, suggestions, or doable fixes would be hugely appreciated.

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