How to access stock Android’s hidden UI settings [and Android N updates]

All Android enthusiasts love stock Android. There’s just something really special about the real Android experience. That said, it isn’t perfect. There are some functionalities that should be there that aren’t. For instance, look at the additions coming to Android N.

There are, however, a couple UI controls already there that you may not know (introduced in Android Marshmallow). That’s because they’re in a hidden Settings menu. I’m not sure why Google did this. I mean, it’s nothing mind-blowing, but they are nice-to-haves.

The hidden menu is called “System UI Tuner”. To get there, pull down the notification shade and hold down on that little Settings cog on the top-right corner for a few seconds. When you let go, you’ll see a message that says “Congrats! System UI Tuner has been added to Settings”. You’ll see the activated menu appear at the bottom of the Settings (under “About phone”).

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Before we walk through what’s in there, I want to point out that the Settings cog icon in the notification shade changes. It gets a subtle image of a wrench next to it.

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First launching the System UI Tuner pops up a dialog box with some insight.

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There are currently four options in there (but subject to change in the future):

  • Quick Settings – Customize the functions that display in the Quick Settings (on the notification shade). You can rearrange or remove functions. If you muck it up, there is a reset button in the top-right menu.

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  • Status bar – Choose what icons can show up on the Android status bar or not.

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  • Show embedded battery percentage – Puts a numerical battery percentage in the status bar battery icon.

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  • Demo mode – When activated, sets the status bar in “Demo” mode, reducing the shown icons down to only the radios, battery, and clock.

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Android N updates to System UI Tuner

We found out about Android N today, and turns out, there’s updates to the System UI Tuner coming with it. We took screenshots from the developer preview and here’s what we noticed:

Color and appearance menu:

System_UI_Tuner_12

  • Night mode – Switches areas in OS that show a “light” theme (white color – such as in the Settings) with a dark gray color. It’s called “Night mode” because it’ll be easier on the eyes when using your phone in a dark place. There’s an automatic option too, that changes the setting based on the time of day.

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  • Calibrate display – Allows you to change the display’s levels of RGB colors.

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Do not disturb menu:

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  • Show with volume controls – Places toggle in volume slider to open/close Android’s do not disturb options.
  • Volume buttons shortcut – Enables/disables shortcut to do not disturb options when you slide the volume all the way down (enabled by default in Android).

Other menu:

System_UI_Tuner_20

  • Disable fast toggle – In Android N’s Recent Apps switcher, you can quickly cycle through the app list by double-tapping the Recent Apps button. However, the system has a short timer that will open the app you stop on. This toggle will disable that countdown when “paging” through apps.
  • Enable split-screen swipe-up gesture – A different way to access Android’s upcoming multi-screen feature, by swiping up from the bottom rather than the default long-press on the Recent Apps button.
  • Show full importance settings – We’re not yet sure about this one.

Extra status bar icon customization:

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So what do you think? Are these features that you think you would use, or do you not care? Are you looking forward to the updates in Android N?

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