DIY: Shortcut Tile for screen rotation toggle in Update 3 for Windows Phone

If you’re using Windows Phone 8 Update 3 (Preview), and according to today’s poll many of you are, then you’re probably enjoying the benefits of the new screen rotation orientation lock.

A long sought after feature, albeit minor, is the new setting that allows you to lock the OS in place so that it won’t auto-rotate—great for when lying in bed. In fact, it’s your third favorite feature right behind the preview program and ‘X’ button for closing apps.

There’s just one problem: the orientation lock settings are a pain to get to. If you want to toggle the orientation lock, you need to hop into Settings, scroll down the massive list of choices, find the orientation lock and then toggle it. It’s far from ideal in terms of efficiency. Microsoft could easily fix this by making the setting pinnable to the Start screen for easy access, and hopefully they will for the final release.

Luckily for now, users who are running Update 3 also have developer unlocked devices—there’s no other way to have received the latest version of the OS. That also means you can sideload so-called ‘homebrew’ apps, which are apps not cleared in the Store.

Screen rotation

Developer and Windows Phone Central frequent member Bailey Stein has posted a cool little XAP to enable a Tile for the orientation lock. You can see what it looks like in the lead image above. It allows small, medium and double wide sizes and tapping it brings you right to the toggle switch. Clever. Simple. And to the point.

Hopefully Microsoft will do this themselves for the final release, but for now, if you have Windows Phone SDK tools installed, you can just load up the XAP thru the deployment app on your PC and push this baby to your developer unlocked phone. You can find the XAP via the source link below.

Source: Bailey Stein (blog); via Windows Phone Central forums

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been here covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics and ran the projectors at movie theaters, which has done absolutely nothing for his career.

  • I always wondered why most settings aren't pin-able within the settings.
  • Probably because the guy in charge of that feature was eating nachos and missed some settings.
  • Some likely just aren't changed that often. For others the reason is that they don't exist on all devices. Internet Connection Sharing is one that has been requested time and time again but some devices don't have it (with certain brandings). We only get URI schemes for those that are guaranteed to exist on the device it seems.
  • I have internet sharing but in the 6 months I've had my Lumia 920 I have used it once, maybe twice. Not really a feature I find useful tbh.
  • I've not used it much lately either, but for people with tablets out and about on the go then it can be invaluable. No need for a 3g tablet, no hunting for wifi.
  • It shouldn't be on a case-by-case basis. You should be able to pin any setting available to you. i.e. If you can see it in the settings, you can pin it. I believe android users can create shortcuts for any setting.
  • Yes! I use Internet Connection Sharing multiple times a day with my tablet. I really wish they would make toggle tiles for on-off setting like this. Tap it and it turns green for on - tap it again and it turns red for off.
  • Microsoft needs a way for common settings to be quickly access. Things like Wi-Fi, screen roate, etc. 
  • Say word son. Preach on brotha.
  • This is probably the best idea I've seen for this issue
  • Yeah and those settings don't need to be HUGE looking or anything (i.e. look at android). Metro-esque that shit up and maybe on the bottom would be cool for something else VERY minor (i.e. brightness adjustments maybe?) 
  • Nah, just add it above the "network status, battery, clock" bar that drops from the top (no idea it's 'official' name). That should just come down further with clickable settings. But WP needs to do something like "superuser" on Android so you can give apps permission to change these settings. All these shortcuts to the settings panels are just clunky, an app should be able to set these things directly.
  • Yeah, like toggles that you can quickly reach wherever you are. Oh man that's an awesome idea, how come no one thought of this before?! Oh wait, MS just refuses to add it.
  • Yep Android has, android has it gooood....
  • Yep. And webOS had it before Android, and webOS probably wasn't the first OS to feature it either. And by today's standards, even iOS has it and Symbian and Firefox OS. Sailfish OS also has it although not really in the same way but still faster to toggle than on WP.
    (note: I don't wanna be *that* guy who argues who got it first, I just wanted to add it was even done before Android came around and by today's standards pretty much every OS has it compared to WP)
  • Voice commands are the way to go. "Set WiFi off." Fuckin a. My next best option are buttons and switches on the chassis, but I know you girls will balk at that.
  • +920 !!! Voice commands are way to go.. hope MSFT integrates voice commands for each and every small task in WP 8.1.. 
  • I think Microsoft should add something like the charms bar that you can access by swiping. Start screen still requires you to leave the app you are in. But I get it, baby steps.
  • This is great news, but I think we could do better. I really think Microsoft needs to make it possible for simply selecting a live tile to perform a function, almost like or exactly like a normal android widget. We don't NEED to go to the rotation lock to hit the toggle. There's only one thing that its going to do and that is toggle on and off. Seeing as its nothing more complicated than that, I'd love for live tiles to truly become simple toggles. Context Switches are annoying, unproductive, and unnecessary. Not in all cases, but certainly in some.
  • Yup, I agree there.
  • Agreed
  • This is Microsoft we are talking about. It took them 3 years to give us rotation lock in most annoying way possible. It will take them another 5 to make it usable without getting frustrated.
  • I'm really starting to question if they understand how unnecessarily cumbersome the WP experience is sometimes. I was expecting these features, and a working notification system with WP7.
  • Sad, but so true.
  • Would that work though? I try to scroll down my home screen and turn off wifi. I don't think it would work.
  • Wish Microsoft would enable me to pin my settings contents such as WiFi, NFC, and screen orientation lock. I know that there are alternative apps, but why download an app if it could be imbedded?
  • That was quick lol
  • I was thinking the same...
  • I want something like this for the Nokia audio controls. I have searched for ways to code that, but it seems to be "hidden".
  • Epic Trance :D
  • Publish this!
  • Hey, Daniel! i used app studio to get update and havent gone through the process of actually developer unlocking my phone, but how would i developer unlock my phone using app studio? is it dangerous?
  • Check the forums. There's plenty of guides.
  • I would love a quick access button for "Battery Saver" I use a lot and hate going in to settings and selecting it everytime.....I know first world problems!!!
  • give me 15 minutes lol.
  • Lol, me too and any settings app I find will take a long laggy time to load. Maybe, as I'm gonna add on to the volume controls idea, we could be able to choose features to place in this quick settings area, and maybe up to 3 can be placed there. Tht would be so nice, for me it would be:battery,WiFi, and screen rotation.
  • Just tweeted you a link to the XAP. ;D
  • That would be too simple and logical, we "need" a batttery meter to tell us how much the battery is discharging per hour, give us the wrong % (unless you actually open it -it's the dirty little secret that 99.9% of the developers don't tell you) when all along it's the battery meter app that's largely the culprit. A shortcut to the Battery Saver would always show the correct % and the estimated time remaining AND it's takes up no extra storage and you can turn it OFF or ON and it's always FREE.
  • I think users should be able to hold down on a setting, then a menu should pop up with an item "pin to start". Simple as that.
  • This^
  • That'd be useful but developers have found the "hold to..." function has major discoverability issues, meaning most people never know it's there to use it :/
  • It might have issues but its still 100% better than nothing at all.
  • there is also two feature suggestions for that, you may wanna vote them up:
  • App Studio membership allows for Update 3 without having an unlocked phone, so being a dev is not the ONLY way to have received update 3.
  • If you signup for app studio, and download the WP8 SDK, you can unlock one phone for free. So if you have Update 3 Preview, you can sideload apps.
  • Bailey is correct and you can load up to three XAP files to your device.
  • What he means is we were able to only sigh up for app studio and download certificate and we were able to get update 3, I never developer unlocked.
  • Umm, that's exactly what you did. You developer unlocked your phone.
  • Awesome, thank you for letting me know this! I had no idea that was an option.
  • Submitted an app to do exactly this last night. Just pending store approval.
  • Great minds think alike? :D
  • Thanks please let us know when it's live!
  • Honestly it should be any MINUTE now. 
  • Great what name should i be searching for?
  • Rotation Lock :)
  • The WP store is quite cutthroat. Just finished my version of this app about 3 hours before the article came out.
  • That's hilarious. Ping us when it is live.
  • The "screen rotation" setting is the 6th setting down for me. So I don't have scroll down the list. Is this not the same for everyone? If not, they really need to organize the settings list.
  • Exactly. Some people need to be spoiled :P The other settings like Airplane mode, Cellular or Location are much lower in the list.
  • It's an XAP doesn't this mean I need an SD card or my computer? :(
  • Exactly, because GDR3 preview is for developer unlocked
  • No. U Can sideload ad developer directly on the phone by a program
  • Hmmm...
    There is a problem, though.
    I don't want to have to keep locking and unlocking.
    I would rather tell the program that I want it locked or unlocked.
  • +8X (Sorry, I don't have a 920 or a 1020). But kudos! Couldn't agree more!
  • Please dont pin it on start screen, but pin it on volume bar :((
  • That is cool.
  • are you saying that the GDR3 update that has been released isn't actually the final/RTM version?
  • 8.1 is still coming on Q1 2014 if it isn't delayed.
  • Twitter doesn't rotate, MetroTube rotates automatic, WPCentral lets You decide. Why need more like General rotation lock?
  • All native apps (People, Mail, etc) and apps like WhatsApp still rotate. It's kinda annoying when laying in bed.
  • Its a pain to find it in the settings? Ok...
  • So i will be toggling all the Time? Wow, no thanks. I like it like it is right now. App devs should build it in, like WPCentral app.
  • I'm getting annoyed that there's no quick pull down menu for settings. I'm already wasting 4 tiles at the top of my screen just for quick access. 2014 can't come soon enough. In the meantime, thank you for creating these shortcuts to all devs
  • Quick settings should be available from the multi tasking view. Plenty of unused space...
  • Gee were being spoilt shits now hey
  • In case it hasn't been mentioned, all MS need do is allow the user to reorder the settings menu. Then one could simply pin the Settings app to the start screen as is already possible. Instant access to all your most vital settings in two fast clicks. There are more pretty solutions, but few as flexible for so little effort for MS.
  • I like that. The ability to sort like they will be doing on the apps screen.
  • You consider pressing the windows key to get to the start screen, finding and clicking on the settings icon, clicking on the rotation lock tab, clicking on the toggle, long holding the back button, swiping over to the app you were in and then clicking on the card to open the app instant access? As opposed to android or iOS which requires a flick down from the top/bottom of the screen and one click on the toggle without ever having to leave the app you were in. Sorry, but I'll take the Android/iOS approach over your so called solution. 
  • You don't have to scroll through tons of settings as 'screen rotation lock' bumped Bluetooth down a notch. This shortcut saves one tap.
  • One tap if you already have settings pinned to Start. Many more if you choose not to.
  • Plus swipes if settings is near the bottom.
  • If you chose not to pin settings to start, you are only hurting yourself.
  • Not really. For just a few commonly used settings, it's much faster to use an app that can give you tiles that drop right into the setting you want, and pin those instead.
  • Sorry, but that's incorrect. You don't need to have a developer unlocked device to get the update; that's one of three optional criteria.
  • If you use the App Studio option, you can unlock the device to sideload up to three XA