By JR Raphael │Computerworld│5 min
We’ve seen lots of significant changes to Android over the past decade. For the first time in a long time, though, Android 12 actually feels like a whole new smartphone experience.
That’s because Android 12 is the first Android version in years to introduce sweeping changes to the software’s front-facing appearance. The new Material You design standard represents a gigantic evolution for the way Android looks and what a device running the operating system is like to use.
By and large, that evolution is a good thing. But with any progression comes certain quirks that don’t always jibe with your day-to-day desires.
For lots of folks, one such element is Android 12’s adjusted approach to Quick Settings — y’know, that panel of fast-access tiles you can reach by swiping down from the top of your device’s screen. That was certainly the case with one of my Android Intelligence Platinum members, who recently contacted me on my Platinum Help Desk with the desperate plea for a creative solution to help her customize her phone’s Quick Settings and undo the “improvements” Android 12 introduced.
Well, here’s the good news — and the same thing I told her: As with most things in Android, the power to decide how you want your device to work ultimately resides in your hands. (Novel concept, no?) And if Android 12’s Quick Settings setup isn’t quite cuttin’ it for ya, lemme tell ya: You’ve got a spectacularly simple way to flex that phone-owner muscle and take control.
Allow me to explain.
The Android 12 Quick Settings conundrum
As you probably know, being the smart and exceptionally attractive lizard that you are, Android’s Quick Settings area actually exists in two different forms. There’s the full Quick Settings panel, which you find by swiping down twice from the top of your display (or swiping down once with two fingers side-by-side). And then there’s the partial Quick Settings view, which shows up above your notifications when you swipe down a single time from the top of your suspiciously greasy screen.
On earlier Android versions, that partial view allowed you to see and interact with six splendid shortcuts — whichever Quick Settings tiles were in the first six positions within that area:
On Android 12, though, the tiles bulked up. And consequently, you can see only four shortcuts in that same amount of space.
Is it purty? Well, sure. But from a purely functional perspective, it’s tough to deny that having fast access to only four items instead of six in the same amount of space is a bit of a regression.
Now, you may well adjust to the change and not be bothered by it after a while. But if you really aren’t feelin’ the larger, less dense Quick Settings arrangement Android 12 introduces, there’s a very effective way to eliminate it.
The trick revolves around a fantastically useful app called Power Shade. It’s a thoughtfully designed tool that lets you replace your device’s entire default Quick Settings area with your own highly customized alternative — kind of like a custom Android launcher, only for Quick Settings instead of your home screen.
And in fact, going back to the pre-Android-12, smaller Quick Settings style couldn’t be much easier. If you fire Power Shade up and leave it with its out-of-the-box settings, it’ll give you a shiny new Quick Settings panel that looks a lot like Google’s older style — almost exactly what you’re used to from Android 11 and earlier:
Uncanny, right? And here’s where things get especially nifty: If you want, from there, you can fine-tune and tweak practically every imaginable pixel of the Power Shade interface to make it look and work any way you like.
I mean, this app’s got options for everything:
Heck, you could even expand the panel beyond those standard six first-swipe shortcuts and show even more tiles in that initial single-swipe view!
Not too shabby, I say. So, yeah: Android 12-induced frustrations aside, this could bring some interesting little improvements in both visual appeal and efficiency in ways you weren’t even expecting.
Speaking of customization, one practical adjustment I’d strongly suggest making is tapping into Power Shade’s extra Quick Settings gesture possibility. That makes it easier to get to your phone’s Quick Settings panel without having to do that always-awkward smartphone hand yoga routine, and it helps with the occasional issue of the default Android Quick Settings panel popping up behind the Power Shade replacement (which, annoyingly, does seem to happen on occasion with this arrangement).
All you’ve gotta do to activate that feature is:
- Open up Power Shade.
- Tap “Edge Triggers” in its main menu.
- Tap either “Left” (if you tend to hold your phone in your left person-paw) or “Right” (if you usually grip it with your right grabber).
- Flip the toggle next to “Enabled” into the on position.
Once that’s done, you can simply swipe your thumb down along the side edge of your screen — at whatever exact place you picked within that same setup area — to trigger your fancy new Quick Settings panel without having to reach all the way to the top of your screen.
Capisce? Capisce. Now, before we call it a day and return to our respective snack mix consumption processes, let me mention a few important asterisks to this:
- First, most of the Power Shade basics will work for free. There’s an optional premium upgrade if you want to unlock all the app’s advanced options, but it’s not at all required for the basic sort of stuff we’re talking about today.
- Second, be aware: Going with a third-party setup like this will require you to give up the spiffy-looking Android 12 Material You theming within your Quick Settings area — the way that part of the interface automatically adjusts its coloring to match your current wallpaper at any given moment. An app like Power Shade could tie into that system eventually and act just like the default system-level setup, but as of now, it ain’t gonna happen.
And with that, my goodness: Your Android phone’s Quick Settings are now exactly the way you like ’em — recent design changes be damned. Sure is nice to be the one in control of your own mobile-tech experience, isn’t it?
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