Android Intelligence Advice

Got Nougat? 5 clever apps for customizing your phone's Quick Settings

Android Nougat's Quick Settings panel is far more powerful than it initially appears. Here's how to make the most of it.

Android Nougat Quick Settings
Credit: JR Raphael

Quick Settings are a whole new game in Google's Android 7.x Nougat software -- but what you see on your phone right now is only half the story.

For the first time in Nougat, third-party apps can actually add their own tiles into Android's Quick Settings section. And that opens the door to all sorts of new possibilities for what the panel can do and how it can make your life easier.

I took the time to try out a ton of custom Quick Settings tiles to find the cream of the crop -- the standout selections that work well and add a meaningful level of usefulness into the Android experience. I narrowed it down to five outstanding apps that oughta be valuable for a lot of people.

Make no mistake about it: This is not meant to be a comprehensive collection. I'm intentionally featuring a very small number of apps that I think take advantage of Nougat's custom Quick Settings capability in a smart and practical way -- not a "doing something just because we can" approach or a half-baked, kinda-works-some-of-the-time sort of setup. This is all about quality over quantity -- the stuff that really shines.

So let's get into it, shall we?

Android Nougat Quick Settings app #1: Tiles

If you download only one app to expand your phone's Quick Settings, Tiles is the one you want. The app is the Swiss Army Knife of Quick Settings tools, with oodles of interesting options -- and in a twist that truly brings it from "functional" to "exceptional," an interface that's actually simple to use.

All you do is open the Tiles app and tap on any item you want to try. You then tap a toggle to enable it -- a thoughtful touch that keeps your Quick Settings editing screen from being overrun with options you'll never use -- and look over any advanced settings you might want to customize. Once that's done, you simply open up your Quick Settings panel and use the regular edit command (the pencil icon at the top) to find and drag the new item into place.

Android Nougat Quick Settings: Tiles jr

Tiles has oodles of interesting options just waiting to be activated

Tiles' list of available functions is enormous, but some highlights include options for setting an alarm, calling a specific person, or launching a specific app. You can also add a one-touch tile for opening a specific section of your system settings, starting a timer, or creating a persistent custom "reminder" notification with a counting-up stopwatch attached.

Another neat possibility is Tiles' Text command, which pops up a window over whatever else you're doing and lets you start typing immediately. When you're finished, you're presented with the standard Android share menu, which lets you quickly send what you've written wherever you want -- into a text message, an email, a note, or even just to your system clipboard for later grabbing.

Pretty cool -- and totally worth the $1.99 price tag.

Android Nougat Quick Settings app #2: Ringer Modes

It's gotten light-years better over the years, but Android's system for switching between silent, vibrate-only, and normal sound mode still isn't as straight-forward as it could be. The aptly named Ringer Modes fixes that: The app puts a dead-simple tile into your phone's Quick Settings panel that moves you between a silent, vibrate-only, and normal sound mode every time you tap it.

Android Nougat Quick Settings: Ringer jr

Ringer Modes makes switching your phone's sound settings as simple as can be (see its tile in the lower-right corner?)

That's it: Nothing less, nothing more. I should point out that our previous app, Tiles, actually has an option for this, too -- but if you don't want the whole shebang and just need this one command, Ringer Modes is the app for you.

Oh -- and did I mention that it's free?

Android Nougat Quick Settings app #3: Wakey

This one won't be for everyone, but if you ever find yourself feeling annoyed when your screen times out and turns itself off while you're in the midst of looking at or working on something, Wakey is an easy way to have your cake and eat it, too.

What do I mean by that? Simple: A smaller screen timeout setting is generally the smarter way to go in terms of battery life, because you don't want your screen staying on for no reason when you aren't actively using it. But there are plenty of exceptions -- times when you do want it to stay on longer than normal without having to screw with your system settings (and then also remember to go back and change things back to normal when you're done). If such scenarios apply to you, you know exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about.

And that's exactly where Wakey comes in. Just add its tile into your Quick Settings panel and then, the next time you want your screen to stay on, tap it. That'll keep your display from automatically timing out on its own until you tap the tile again.

If you want to get even more advanced, open up the main Wakey app and tap the timer icon in the upper-right corner. That'll let you set a maximum amount of time for Wakey to keep your screen awake -- so in case you leave your phone active and forget to toggle Wakey back off, your display won't stay on forever and completely drain your battery.

Wakey is free with an optional $1.49 in-app upgrade.

Android Nougat Quick Settings app #4: Weather Quick Settings Tile

If there's one universal subject of interest, it's weather. (Seriously. Just ask my Great Aunt Shirley.) And while Android provides plenty of places to put a quick glance at your local conditions -- your home screen, a persistent notification, and so on -- none is as universally accessible and yet unobtrusive as a tile in your device's Quick Settings.

That's precisely what Weather Quick Settings Tile accomplishes (gee, who woulda guessed?!). Install the app, add its tile into your Quick Settings panel, and ta-da: You'll see a pretty little icon along with a succinct summary of current conditions every time you swipe down from the top of your screen.

Android Nougat Quick Settings: Weather jr

Hey, how are you? How about this weather?!

Tap the icon once to force a data refresh, or -- this is especially important to note at the start -- tap it twice to set your preferences for things like the temperature format and auto-refresh rate.

Weather Quick Settings Tile is free with an optional $1.99 in-app upgrade if you want the ability to change the weather provider. (By default, it uses OpenWeatherMap.)

Android Nougat Quick Settings app #5: Todoist

We've got no shortage of choices for note-taking apps these days. Personally, I tend to like Google Keep for its simplicity and tight integration with other Google services. But other apps definitely have their advantages.

Todoist -- free with an optional "premium" subscription for some of its more advanced features -- is a perfect example. The app (which is nicely designed and very pleasant to use, by the way) works really hard to look and feel like an Android app -- something that makes a big difference compared to the all-too-common one-size-fits-all cross-platform creations -- and as part of that, its developers are constantly looking for Android-specific elements and functions to adopt.

It should be no surprise, then, that the Todoist team was among the first to come out with a clever use for a Quick Settings tile. With Todoist installed on your phone, you can keep an "Add task" tile on demand and always ready in your Quick Settings panel. Anytime you need to take a note -- whether you're on your home screen or in the midst of using any random app -- just swipe down, tap the tile, and start typing in the handy box that appears over your screen.

Android Nougat Quick Settings: Todoist jr

Note to self: This seems like a lovely way to take a note

You can just type a quick note and hit save -- or, if you want to get ambitious, you can add the note to a specific list or even attach a due date right then and there, without ever switching away from whatever else you were doing.

Now, if someone would only figure out how to create a tile that'd take care of items on our to-do lists, too -- man, we'd really be set.

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