AndroidApps

I love my custom lock screen

I recently wrote an article about how Android has ruined iOS for me, listing a few Android-specific apps that iOS can’t compete with due to the locked down nature of the OS. I later realized that I had forgotten at least one part of Android which should have been on that list, and that is my lock screen.

WidgetLocker is the app I use to give me my custom lock screen. It’s far from the only lock screen replacement on Android, and while the developer’s recent laziness is more than a bit annoying, it’s the one that works the best for my situation (without actually working as well as it could). As the name suggests, WidgetLocker allows you to put widgets on your lock screen, which is the main feature of the app. The unlock sliders themselves are widgets, and highly customizable ones at that. This essentially turns your lock screen into a second home screen, which means that you can customize it to your heart’s content…which I have.

custom lock screen - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

My current lock consists of three widgets. The top one is a custom widget I made in Make Your Clock Widget, adapted slightly from the one I use on my home screen. It has my contact email in case the phone gets lost, as well as battery information in place of the Tasker-controlled information fields I have in the home screen version of the widget.

Below that is a Minimalistic Text widget. It’s controlled by Tasker, where a few different tasks and profiles have the ability to write and remove information from it. If I have items in my shopping list when I’m outside, the widget displays those items. If I have a calendar-activated Tasker profile, for instance my school profile, the location field of that calendar event is displayed in the widget. In practice, when I turn the screen on when I’m arriving at school, the widget shows which room the lecture is in. My Home profile wipes this widget clean when I get home, so that when it’s not in use, it’s invisible.

Finally there’s the unlock widget, which came with WidgetLocker. It’s a traditional ICS-style unlock ring, but with all 8 slots filled. Unlock is to the right, while the other 7 slots are less traditional uses for an unlock ring. Starting at the top, there are two different light bulb icons. Those control (on/off) a lamp in my bedroom through my home automation system, allowing me to quick turn on the lights in the room by reaching for my phone and flicking the unlock ring straight up. The bottom right icon is also light related, and is used for toggling the LED light on the phone itself.

The camera and Gmail icons are straight up app shortcuts that bring me to the corresponding apps. The left icon on the other hand is an action shortcut that brings me to a specific part of Unified Remote, the basic input screen, instead of starting the app up normally. In short, flicking the ring to that icon lets me use my phone as a keyboard and mouse for my computer. Finally, there’s the settings icon. That opes up my Tasker-made pop-up settings box, which gives me access to a constantly evolving set of controls. It’s changed a bit since I used it as an example in the Tasker guide, but the basic concept is the same. It gives me access to everything from my todo list to brightness and local webcam images (to check the weather), and unlike opening a full app it’s even accessible without entering the unlock pattern, if that’s active.

All in all I love how my lock screen has turned out. It gives me extremely quick access to some of the most used features on my phone, and it allows me to leave such things as turning on the light in the room to muscle memory: Grab the phone. click the button, drag up. When you’re practically blind without your contact lenses at night, that’s an immense help. Having a lock screen like this is something I don’t think I could live without, and demonstrates the difference between Android and iOS quite well. It might take a bit of work to set up, but it’s worth it in the end.

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Andreas Ødegård

Andreas Ødegård is more interested in aftermarket (and user created) software and hardware than chasing the latest gadgets. His day job as a teacher keeps him interested in education tech and takes up most of his time.

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13 thoughts on “I love my custom lock screen

  • Avatar of Michelle

    I love this kind of article, exposing me to useful apps. Thanks!

    Reply
  • Avatar of Doug Culp

    This sounds awesome! I think I’m gonna go install WidgetLocker right now and play around with it.

    Reply
  • Avatar of Lynn

    I’m sure iOS will have this feature in 2020

    Reply
  • Avatar of Everett

    What type of home automation do you use for lighting?

    Reply
    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      Nexa equipment controlled by a Tellstick Net. I will post a review.of the tellstick soon

      Reply
      • Avatar of Everett

        Thanks. I look forward to that review.

        Reply
      • Avatar of Dan Davis

        Sounds like a very easy to customize product, not locked into a specific app or website program. Looking forward to that review.

        Reply
        • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

          Indeed it is. The Tellstick itself is independent from the gear it controls, which is made by completely different manufacturers. That plus an API means that you can even get the software elsewhere. The app I use for Android is made by a third party, and integrates with Tasker, another third party app. So, the profile I already have in Tasker for when I’m outside can control my existing lamps via software made by a third party, a Tellstick, and a wall receiver made by Nexa. I’ve also ordered two temperature sensors, which are not only from a different company than all the rest, but is actually an extra sensor to a weather station I don’t have or need, as that extra sensor just happens to work with the Tellstick.

          Helps restore faith in that companies can work together for everyone’s best interest, not pull an Apple or Samsung and make everything as incompatible as possible.

          Reply
  • Avatar of Abraham

    For the clock widget do you actually use the pro version or just the free one?
    I am interested because I really like how it looks.

    Reply
    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      I have the pro version, not sure if that’s required. I buy the apps I use a lot anyways

      Reply
  • Avatar of Nagaraj

    i like to keep my lockscreen as minimal as possible. but that is a good lockscreen you have there.
    i would use different icons though

    Reply
  • Hi! That looks great!
    I tried WidgetLocker yesterday and found it quite nice. But I integration of the security/PIN code is not that smooth. I have found that securing your phone with at least your PIN when unlocking is a must. If someone gets access to my phone they will gain access to many of the services I use.

    So when I launch something from the lock screen I’m sent to the normal lock screen where I have to flick the normal unlock switch and then input my PIN before I’m sent to the app I launched. That’s too many flicks I think.

    Any suggestions? How could I at least bypass the second flicking (normal lock screen)?

    Reply
    • Avatar of Andreas Ødegård

      That’s not supposed to happen. On my device, WL disables the second slider, even when I have a pattern enabled. In fact, there are options in the advanced section of WL to override this feature, so I’m fairly sure it’s default. If yours still displays the second slider, I would try contacting the developer to see if there’s a solution.

      Reply

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