Google has been fiddling with the way lockscreen media controls should work since Ice Cream Sandwich, and they've gotten yet another makeover in KitKat. When a supported app like Google Play Music, Netflix, or Play Movies is running in the background (Chromecast-only in the last two instances) you get a full screen display of the artwork associated with the content on the lockscreen. It offers some new functionality too.

Screenshot_2013-11-04-15-54-06 Screenshot_2013-11-04-15-47-17 2013-11-05 22.37.21

You can still navigate around to other lockscreen widgets and the album art will still be there – it essentially takes the place of your background. If the image is high-resolution that's great. However, I've noticed some Netflix titles look rather blurry. You can expand the playback control widget to take up the full length of the panel, but it doesn't add anything, oddly.

2013-11-05 22.21.00 2013-11-05 22.22.04

Most of the functions are right there for controlling playback, but Google mentioned seeking and there is no progress bar to be found. What gives? It turns out you can simply long-press on the skip forward or back button and the title is replaced by a progress bar. Then you can scrub through the track from the lockscreen. This appears to be for music only right now. It's really cool, but incredibly unintuitive. Check below for the old style lockscreen controls to compare.

Screenshot_2013-11-04-15-55-46 Screenshot_2013-11-04-15-49-51

[Android 4.4]

Ryan Whitwam
Ryan is a tech/science writer, skeptic, lover of all things electronic, and Android fan. In his spare time he reads golden-age sci-fi and sleeps, but rarely at the same time. His wife tolerates him as few would.

He's the author of a sci-fi novel called The Crooked City, which is available on Amazon and Google Play. http://goo.gl/WQIXBM

  • Danny Holyoake

    What does 'Chromecast only in the last two instances' mean?

    • Phil Oakley

      Chromecast-only for Play Movies and Netflix, I'd imagine. So the playback controls on the lockscreen only work when you're Chromecasting for those two apps.

      • A.M

        yes it works for stock 4.4 but if you are running CM ROM chromcast works with everything podcast music apps etc

      • RitishOemraw

        Not for Google Play Music? Why not?

    • Colin Kealty

      Play Movies and Netflix wouldn't normally continue playing if your screen was off/locked, but if it's being "Chromecasted" then it makes sense to show the lock screen controls

  • gumbald

    Badly named Lily Allen track ahoy! Absolutely!

  • Sean

    I'm glad they finally just went full screen with it, it looks SO much better than that little darkened square we had before.

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      • Anish Bhalerao

        My mother's only son spend hours and hours on the computer. He has a job since over 2 years and still, just spending hours on a computer didn't pay me shit.
        But by your analogy, I'm a fucking billionaire. And I have just bought the entire world, JUST WORKING ON MY COMPUTER.
        Now, mo'faka human, I command you to scram.

      • Anish Bhalerao

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        Did you shag her?
        Naughty America is out in the open, fellas!

      • Anish Bhalerao

        How do YOU know the exact amounts of your friend's stepmother?
        Your friend's HOT stepmother, is she? Naughty naughty America!

  • EvolutionQY71

    Wonder where they got that idea from (wp7)

    • http://petercast.net Peterson Silva

      It seems to me that it is the next logical step to what they had already been doing in Jelly Bean...

    • Justin W

      And where did everyone get their non-original ideas ever from? Everyone else. Go home.

    • Danny Davis


    • Bariman43

      Yes, because the number one thing Android wants to be is Windows Phone.

  • WalkinOnBottles

    I'm still put off by how the lockscreen looks with music playing. It's much better with the change, but still looks bad. It doesn't show off the art (due to it being darkened), and it doesn't help see the lockscreen itself. Surely Google must be looking at solutions, because this just seems like a temporary solution to one of many lockscreen issues.

  • Lupe Fiasco

    A very nice addition to 4.4. The only time I would see me not liking this is if my Album Artwork is blurry lol.

  • Roberto Giunta

    Is that something apps have to implement? Or will that be automatically there and functional with apps like Pocket Casts?

  • h_f_m

    I disabled the PowerAmp lockscreen I used to use on the N4 due to this.. bravo

  • remister

    I wonder if this works with Spotify or any third party media player with Lock Screen access.

    • rmarcon

      I guess it does. Look at this screenshot from verge http://cdn3.sbnation.com/assets/3504541/kitkatscreens1_300.jpg

      • VyktorJonas

        how did they get transparent notification bar and navigation bar on lockscreen?? Mine is 4.4 but only launcher is like that

        • Nasko Hristov

          You have to flash an zip enabling it, because the current unofficial roms doesn't at the time writing. Visit slimkat thread at xda if you own a galaxy nexus.

        • turdbogls

          the nexus 5 has this as default. but my G-nex on 4.4 did not.

  • Matt

    This is the place to get hi-res album artwork! :)

    • A.M

      Thanks man have I ODC when it comes to my cover art

      • Harsha


      • Bob

        Luckily not with letter arrangements

    • A.M

      yea but it still doesn't work the full screen album is still granny no where near as the high res as the screenshots but hopeful as the builds get better that will be fixed

  • Jones

    The track bar may be unintuitive but it's better than the song skipping in my pocket!

  • http://www.androidrow.com/ Android Man

    http://www.androidrow.com/videos/google-experience-launcher-hands-on-video .. Google Experience Launcher – Hands on – Video

  • JonJJon

    I may have missed this somewhere else, but why do the first two screenshots have solid black status/navigation bars but the third screenshot have them transparent? Is this simply because the third screenshot setup has a pattern unlock?

    • Jon_D7

      That's a great point. I'd like to know this as well.

    • TY

      Black bar = early builds of 4.4 custom ROMs for Nexus 4, transparency not yet enabled
      Transparent = Nexus 5
      Check the resolution.

  • Alan Shearer

    Forgot your sim card there buddy :P

  • Itchy_Robot

    is there any way to use the new voice controls to control your media? That would be a great feature for Chromecast or for switching tracks when driving.

  • jkgao

    What if they added some gaussian blur to it.. I know people are gonna bitch about it being iOS like but I think it'll fix the problem of crappy res album art and it'll have a cool effect....

    • Roh_Mish

      Maybe am autodetect algorithm to see if the art is high res enough and add blur effect if not.

  • Gerjannn

    Looks awesome, but on my Nexus 4 with KitKat the Spotify Album art isn't showing. Are there people with a Nexus 5 who can tell if the album art works?

    • Marcus Sörensson

      Nope they haven't implemented it yet. Not spotify atleast. Don't know about the others though.

  • Shitiz Garg

    Shaun the Sheep? Seriously?

  • Markl

    Works with TuneInRadio too.

  • Harold Goco

    I want the APK. lol

    I know it can't be installed. -_-

  • Roh_Mish

    Keeping that transparency effect and homescreen to Nexus5 is not good google. That transparency above and below make it look more good in person.

  • daleyt

    Is there any way to consistently get the lock screen controls to show up Play Music under 4.2.2? I only ever seem to get lock screen controls less than half of the time when using Play Music.

  • Stacey Liu

    It looks more like the ICS widget, but over the entire screen.

  • Tal Tarablus

    Offline Xbox Music and full lockscreen album art and I'm satisfyed

  • ludalex

    Great, but when do they add "skip track with volume buttons" feature in AOSP?

  • A.M

    yea S2 t mobile cm11 Alpha 1 is out can't wait for the build to get better

  • Richard

    my skip track buttons are gone why i press skip traxk Nexus 5 4.4.
    somebody know anything

  • Jay

    Windows had lock screen album art and controls since its launch. In 2010.

  • Kris Pucci

    I personally wish it would scale the album art so I could see the whole thing, not just some portion of it. I am not a fan.

  • kesean cooper

    I have a galaxy 3 and its not going fullscreen on mine? How do i do it?

  • kesean cooper

    And i have 4.4

  • Malith Ishan Gunawardena

    But it has gone. How to get it back

  • Anthony

    I hate the Kit Kat Music Full Screen Lock Screen thing. I liked the little square that we had on Jelly Bean where we can just see our regular lock screen pic with the box with Music. HOW DO I GET BACK TO THAT???!??

    • Cliff

      Im with you. I HATE the full screen player. I liked the small one with my nice selected backgound behind it. A lot of the album art looks horrible , plus my lock screen gets stuck on one pic from a certain song and then stays there even though my music has move on like 5 different songs. HORRIBLE. Total crap that you no longer can customize it and are just stuck with it.

  • mat

    How can I disable this annoying lock screen.

  • http://www.twitter.com/ZetaZeta_ ZetaZeta

    Oh lord the full screen player is atrocious. I had a live wallpaper visualization for music and now I can't use it. That's screwed up. half the time the album art isn't even full resolution and it looks terrible, especially with streaming media services like Pandora and DI.fm. And I can't disable it - there's not even an option. Once again, Google killing Android.

  • Mikael Lind

    I hate hate hate this crappy change to my phone. Now I can't have the phone in my pocket any more without it skipping tracks and my living wallpaper was WAY better then looking at the album art. If I want to listen to music I'll listen to music and not look at different album arts. If I ever wanted to look at album art I could unlock my phone and look at them with the music app open. Why they are shoved in my face like this is infuriating. I want it gone ASAP!

  • Intertk

    I love the idea but can someone plz help me my album covers are zoomed in on my lock screen and it looks horrible that way is there a way to fix? do i need higher resolution pictures?

  • Ramakata Oblonsky

    Do you know why it does display only song title and album name, but artist? I would prefer artist, since if you listen to compilation/VA album, then every song may have different artist, however it isn't shown.

  • Very Annoyed

    I absolutely hate the full screen album display. Hate it. Fix it or I'm moving to iPhone.