- 1 Customizable multipurpose tiles
- 2 Single-purpose tiles
- 3 For rooted users and developers
- 4 Other apps with a quick tile
- 5 We're just getting started
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The Quick Settings Tile API was added as part of Android 7.0 Nougat to allow developers and third-party apps to make use of the drop-down toggles, which are one of the easiest and most user-facing ways of quickly changing settings on Android. Over the many months since it's been available, the API has been used extensively to add many options and shortcuts to the Quick Settings, some we have expected and others are a little more eccentric.
In this round-up, I'll take a look at many, albeit not all, of the apps that use the Quick Settings Tile API. I'm sure there are hundreds more that I couldn't even begin to think about or know where to find, but the list here should be enough to get you started if you're curious about the function and never explored it further.
But before I get started, I'll remind you that to add new tiles, you need to drop down the full Quick Settings panel, tap on Edit or the pencil icon, depending on which version and OEM skin of Android you're using, and scroll down to see all the tiles that you can add, then drag the ones you want to the top. Once you're familiar with this, you can start exploring all the new ways Quick Settings Tiles can be augmented.
Quick Settings edit pencil (left), full list (middle), and adding the Nearby tile (right).
Customizable multipurpose tiles
Do you like widgets but hate to have them clutter up your perfectly designed homescreen? Or maybe you need access to some widget from any app, without going back to the homescreen to find it first. In those cases, Quidgets lets you assign tiles to launching any widget you want. You get a few tiles to customize to your liking and the widget shows up in a white frame when tapped, but aside from the small visual tweak, interacting with it is the same as if it were on your homescreen.
N Tiles is one of many apps that let you personalize tiles and assign different actions to them, but from my tests, it's one of the easiest to use while still packing a lot of functionality. The app's best feature is that it lets you toggle different types of tiles on and off, so you don't clutter up your Quick Settings tile list with plenty of options you will never need. As for the available tiles, there are many including taking a screenshot, adding quick reminders in a smart notification "Quick Reply" manner, shortcuts to any app on your device, and more. The immersive mode enabler and advanced reboot tiles require root.
Tiles is like N Tiles, but on steroids. There's a small price of entrance at $1.99, but it's more than worth it if you want to customize your Quick Settings tiles to the maximum. There's a tile for everything in Tiles, from the more traditional functions like launching apps, changing the ringer setting, making a call to a specified contact, keeping the screen awake if you need it on for a while, enabling and disabling sync, launching the camera, and all the way to the "I didn't know I needed that but I want it now!" like adding alarms, taking a peek at your clipboard, starting a timer, opening Android's built-in storage explorer, and more.
There are also plenty of options that require root or adb setup, like controlling animation speeds, toggling data roaming, rebooting the phone, choosing the device density, and so on. Tiles can practically replace half the apps I have on this list, but if you only need one or two of the options it has, you might want to look at the free alternatives.
QuickTile Quick Settings 7.+
QuickTile is a flow builder for your Quick Settings tiles. You can set up cycles of different actions that happen in succession and assign one tile to trigger the entire cycle. Actions include changing the device's settings, launching an app or an activity, placing a phone call, text-to-speech readings, setting up Calendar events or alarms, and more. Many of these options, however, are locked behind the $2.99 IAP. QuickTile can be quite powerful if you figure out a few flows of actions you always do in succession, but the interface takes a little getting used to. The orange and purple mix don't help with that.
There are plenty more apps that let you augment the Quick Settings tiles with different functions. A couple of examples worth checking are Tile Extension for Nougat, a simple but not very customizable app, and Custom Quick Settings, which sits between N Tiles and Tiles on the customization and usability scale.
Ringer Modes (left), Caffeinate (middle), ScreenFilter (right).
Ringer Modes - Quick Tile
Android lets you modify your phone's volume for calls, notifications, and media with the volume buttons, but what if you just want to tap one button and directly jump to vibrate-only or to silent? The Ringer Modes tile lets you do just that.
The "Caffeine" tile introduced in CyanogenMod (RIP) 13 lets the user keep the display constantly on for a few minutes before it turns off and reverts to the normal auto-sleep inactivity time. Caffeinate does the same thing. It keeps the display awake for 5 minutes and the tile switches to a counter to show how much time is left. You can lock your screen to deactivate the feature or tap the tile to add 5-minute increments up to 1 hour.
ScreenFilter in Quick Tile
ScreenFilter is like many of those blue filter apps that overlay your screen to suppress certain colors, but it's more customizable, letting you choose exactly which colors to filter out and how much. With the tile, you can quickly enable and disable it.
Camera Quick Settings Tile (left), Quick Search Tile (middle), Explorage (right).
Camera Quick Settings Tile
There are plenty of apps that put a tile to quickly launch the camera, but Camera Quick Settings Tile goes a little beyond, letting you instantly shoot a selfie with the front cam or a photo with the rear cam right from the Quick Settings. It then puts the resulting image as a notification that you can view, share, or delete.
Quick Search Tile
You can reach Google Search from tens of places on your phone, so this is merely one more way to do the same. Tap it from any app and you can instantly start searching for something.
Explorage Quick Settings Tile
Android has a hidden file explorer under Settings > Storage > Explore. It's enough for basic tasks like finding files, renaming them, and deleting or copying. This app lets you access it with a quick tile without having to dig through Settings each time you need something. Explorage has two tiles actually, one for the whole Storage section and one that directly opens the Explore file browser. It's simple and one of the most used third-party tiles on my phone right now.
Weather Quick Settings Tile (left), Tally Counter Tile (middle), Notedown Tile (right).
Weather Quick Settings Tile
If you just want to get a concise weather update in your Quick Settings, this tile does the job. You can manually pick a city or let it update based on your current location, choose a refresh rate, and switch between Celsius and Fahrenheit.
Tally Counter Tile
Are you constantly counting things manually? Like how many glasses of water you drink or how many coffees you spill on yourself in a week, or maybe you have other more productive uses for a counter. This tile puts it right in the Quick Settings so you don't have to open a separate app or try to find some archaic technology like a pen.
Notedown Tile is there for those who think of something and don't know where to write it down. Tap the tile and a notification shows up letting you write anything then share it to other apps like Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, and so on.
Beyond the tiles mentioned above, there are plenty of options and toggles that also serve limited purposes. QuickHue can toggle your Hue lights on and off, MonoTweety lets you fire off tweets from the Quick Settings area, and QuickTask creates tiles that can be used in Tasker profiles. There are also alternatives for a few of the apps I wrote about, like Storage Quick Settings Tile, an Explorage alternative that only gives a shortcut to the Storage settings page but not the Explore file browser, MoBeta Assist, another tile for quickly launching Google Search, and Wakey which keeps your screen awake like Caffeinate.
For rooted users and developers
Animator Duration Tile (left), Tile Root for Nougat (middle), Xtended Settings (right).
Tile Root for Nougat
If your device is rooted, there is a small pack of Quick Settings toggles that you can easily add to your tiles: Tile Root for Nougat. It has NFC, ambient display, immersive mode, and power menu toggles.
If you have an HTC device though and the XPOSED Framework installed, you can open up a lot of options with the Xtended Settings app and its Quick Settings tiles to access different functions, SuperUser, and Xposed.
Animator Duration Tile
And if you're only interested in changing your device's animations speed because they feel too slow for you, developer Nick Butcher has a small Quick Settings tile that needs an adb command to work but that lets you speed up and slow down the animations. Animator Duration Tile is available on GitHub.
Demo Mode tile (left), Dev Quick Settings Tile (middle), and ADB Over Network (right).
Demo Mode tile
Another app that requires an adb command to work is Demo Mode tile. This one, however, is useful for developers who take screenshots of their apps or writers like us who often do that too. When tapped, it turns on Demo mode with pre-configuration for 7:00 clock time, full WiFi, full signal, and full battery icons.
Dev Quick Settings Tiles
For a full suite of dev-friendly tiles, you can check Dev Quick Settings Tiles. It has the Demo Mode and animation speed toggles like above, but also tiles for USB Debugging, showing taps, and keeping the screen on when connected to a computer. Handy for everyone who keeps digging in and out of the Developer Options settings menus for these.
ADB Over Network / Wi-Fi ADB Quick Settings Tile
Two more for our dev friends, ADB Over Network is a toggle that does what it says in its name. Another alternative is Wi-Fi ADB Quick Settings Tile.
Other apps with a quick tile
Beyond the apps that rely on the Quick Settings Tiles API as their main functionality, there are apps that serve a variety of purposes but that offer a tile to allow users quick access to a specific option without having to delve into the app. The examples and implementations vary wildly, but here are a few examples:
- Google Play Services added a tile to enable and disable Nearby so you control when you are visible to nearby devices and when you're not.
- Look of Disapproval lets you quickly launch the app and choose a unicode face or expression to copy and then paste it into your chosen app.
- Shazam has a tile to quickly toggle Auto Shazam so you can enable it when at a cafe or pub then disable it when you're back in a more silent environment.
- Spotify's tile can toggle offline mode.
- Todoist has a tile to add a task to your to-do list, with all the features of Quick Add including shortcuts for projects (#), labels (@), and smart parsing of date and time.
- Flamingo for Twitter lets you write a tweet from its tile.
- OpenVPN and VPN by Private Internet Access both have tiles to toggle the VPN connection on and off.
- Twilight can enable and disable its screen filter with a tile.
- Chromer lets you enable and disable its Web Head functionality (think Link Bubble) with its tile.
- AppInfo's tile can start and stop the monitoring and notification that shows lots of details (traffic, storage, permissions, etc...) about the foreground app.
- Forecast can show the weather of the current location in a Quick Settings tile.
- Open Camera has a tile to quickly launch the camera.
- Automagic doesn't actually have a tile, but it can create automation flows based on you selecting specific tiles as a trigger.
Tiles from Todoist, Shazam, Chromer, Twilight, Look of Disapproval, and Forecast.
We're just getting started
After spending hours checking all of these apps, I kept having the feeling that the full potential of tiles hasn't been reached yet. Developers are still mostly using them to add a toggle that doesn't exist in stock Android but that's there in custom ROMs or OEM skins, a use case that is legitimate but feels a little boring. Or they're making tiles to provide redundant functionality like the weather and reminders and tweets/messages, or they're creating simple shortcuts for apps and functionality within certain apps. Those use cases are even harder to justify.
When I think of useful tiles, I don't imagine something with icons and widgets, because that's what the homescreen is for. And Google agrees: the Quick Settings Tile API clearly says that, "Quick Settings tiles are reserved for controls or actions that are either urgently required or frequently used, and should not be used as shortcuts to launching an app." Yet here we are with plenty of apps that do just that. It's a waste of valuable screen estate and smart developers will soon understand that the fight over the coveted 6 top Quick Settings tiles, then the next 3 from the expanded first pane, can't be won with lazy implementations.
Tiles, to me, feel more like live toggles that report the state of something and let you quickly turn it on or off. The QuickHue app (even if it doesn't live report the state of the light now) and the VPN apps are some of the best use cases I came across, and I can imagine Quick Settings Tiles becoming a more urgent demand from users of apps that control smart home and IOT gadgets. The use case there makes sense and I can imagine having one full 9-tile Quick Settings pane dedicated to controlling my home without having to open a single app.
What Quick Settings Tiles are you using, from this list or ones I missed, and which ones do you wish were available but aren't yet?