I recently purchased a set of earphones (HTC RC E160) with music controls (next, play/pause, previous buttons).

Strangely, they do not appear to work on my Samsung Galaxy Ace. The play/pause button works properly, but the 'next' button does the same thing as the play/pause button and the 'previous' button does nothing at all.

I've tried making a testing Android app which tries to capture the button presses and obtain information about them. The previous button just goes completely undetected, but the next and play/pause buttons both display identical information.

Does anyone have some insight into what is going on? I'm unable to tell if my earphones are faulty, or if there is a compatibility issue.

EDIT - just tried on a Samsung Galaxy Tab, all three buttons work, except the next and previous buttons alter volume instead. Confused.

  • Maybe it could be something to do with the firmware of the phone? It's possible it's not supported with the Ace. Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 16:30
  • My 2ct: The headset connector has 3 signal lines (l/r stereo + microphone) and a common ground. I'm not aware of some standard that manages howto encode multimedia controls with those 4 lines. basically, each control button is assigned to a signal line and pulls that low (shorts with ground line) when a button is pressed. It's up to the phone model to support this and decide what button event to generate in Android. play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=aws.apps.keyeventdisplay shows your key presses also.
    – ce4
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 16:35
  • thanks for the info ce4. That app is useful, and confirms that I'm receiving the same data from both the 'next' and 'play/pause' button. Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 16:55
  • by the way, do you think it's the hardware telling android what event has occurred or if it's android getting the data and turning it into an event itself? Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 17:47

1 Answer 1


The solution lies in your first sentence. You're using an HTC headphone.
Music controls are not standardized so every manufacturer implements them differently. As if this wouldn't be enough, different models have different implementations too. The only headphone that's guaranteed to work is the one that came with your device.

Apple on the other hand has a certification program to make sure that 3rd party accessories will work with iDevices.

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