We first saw custom tiles in an Android N Developer Preview a few months back, but unfortunately, not many apps have added this feature. It's a shame, really; custom tiles are easy to use and can add a lot of speed and functionality to frequently-used apps. Now, Shazam has added one called "Auto Shazam," and it might come in handy if you're a big music listener. I don't personally use Shazam anymore (Google does the same thing if you start a voice search, FYI), but I can certainly see the merits of this for people who are invested in it.
Android N is making some changes to the notification shade, not least among them the addition of settings toggles at the top of the screen without opening quick settings. In previous preview builds these were toggles as you'd expect, but DP4 changes it up. Now, the WiFi and Bluetooth buttons open the full modal connection list screen. The response from users has not been positive.
Quick settings is the site of major improvements in Android N—there's a new row of five toggles along the top of the notification shade, the quick settings can be rearranged, and you can even add new tiles. The latest Android N Dev Preview 3 brings more improvements and tweaks to quick settings.
We already know that Android N is bringing editable Quick Settings into the main UI after it got a test run in Android 6.0's system UI tuner. Now, the second developer preview has added a new Quick Settings tile to the interface—the calculator. Can you guess what it does? Yep, it opens the calculator.
In Android M, the System UI Tuner included a Broadcast tile that allowed users to create their own custom tile to be added to the Quick Settings area. However, users had to be savvy enough to know how to create that tile and then use an app like Custom Quick Settings to personalize its look and actions. It's safe to say that the feature wasn't ready for primetime and only enterprising and techie users could benefit from it.
If there's one thing that keeps changing across different Android versions, it's the notifications and quick settings drop-down. Google can't seem to make up its mind about which way works better and N's latest changes to quick settings are a testament to that. While the new customization options are the most prominent modification, there's another one worth looking at and it affects how you go into the detailed settings of each quick settings item.
You might recall a drop-down arrow in Lollipop 5.1 and Marshmallow for the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth icons, but that's gone in N. Instead, you can long tap on any icon and you'll be taken to its settings.
There's a new version of Android on the horizon, and you know what that means: users complaining that their devices aren't included in the developer preview. But it also means that the Quick Settings menu is getting some interface changes, and there are quite a few tweaks in the new N builds. Now when users pull down the notification shade, they're first greeted with a single row of minimalized settings icons, which can be accessed without pulling down the shade twice as in Marshmallow.
Lurking in the developer options of the Android M dev preview is something called System UI Tuner. It's not a very descriptive name, but if you back out to the main system settings, you'll see it listed at the bottom. Open it up and you can customize the Quick Settings finally. It's something most Android OEMs have been doing for years.
When Lollipop 5.0 first launched, it brought with it an interesting set of dynamic Quick Settings toggles. Drop down your notification shade and you could see the usual culprits like WiFi and Bluetooth, but a few toggles were hidden unless they were triggered once, like WiFi Hotspot or Invert Colors. The problem, however, was that once these showed up, they were there to stay ... at least for one month if you never touched them again. Then we found out that you could force them to disappear by setting your date forward a month, then back.
Despite its appearance on Android One devices, we've had complete radio silence from Google about Android 5.1. Still, as long as it is in the wild, we're going to keep hearing about it. In this case, we have found out that the animation associated with toggling the auto-rotate feature has come back in 5.1 after disappearing in 5.0. Take a look.
This might not exactly change the way you use your Android phone or tablet, but it's nice. Google has done some big talking about being more of a design-focused company, which means the minutiae like this have to be important.