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Android's lock screen hasn't really changed since 4.2, but app developers keep coming up with new ways to wow us. Case in point: Cover. This alternative lockscreen replaces the default screen with a selection of quick-launch app icons, not unlike some of the manufacturer skins out there. But unlike TouchWiz or Sense, Cover automatically learns which apps you use at what times, and it comes with a ton of impressive UI features.

First of all, Cover lets you "peek" at the apps on your homescreen with a swipe gesture, allowing you to take a quick look at multiple apps without actually switching to any of them. It's an interesting alternative to the notification bar. After you do switch to an app, you can flip between them in their Cover order with another gesture, a slide down from the top corner of the screen. It's intuitive and addictive, especially if you've got multiple apps that you constantly check. You can scroll between all your apps, five at a time, by swiping up from the main screen, and Cover includes a SwipePad-style quick switch bar that can be activated from any other app.

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But that's not all. Cover learns your activity patterns over a few days, both from your regular use and your set home and work locations. It will change the default app icons accordingly. Even more impressive, you can manually set wireless network and ringer/silent preferences for each location. Cover also has a car mode activated by motion and/or Bluetooth status. The app includes some pretty snazzy high-resolution wallpapers that you can apply to different locations, but you can bring your own as well.

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Cover has been in an invite-only beta for a few months. It's still technically in beta, but now it's open to everyone on the Play Store. It's still missing a few key features, namely the ability to manually set app shortcuts or some kind of lock functionality (right now you have to use both a default Android PIN/pattern lock and Cover if you want security), and you don't get access to lockscreen widgets. All that being said, it's an interesting alternative that should please a lot of users. And as the company is proudly stating on both its website and the app description, it's only for Android.

Update: International readers: if Cover isn't available in your country, the developers are hosting a Google Group with an updated APK for side loading. You can read more at the Cover FAQ.

Thanks, Edward Ho!

Michael Crider
Michael is a native Texan and a former graphic designer. He's been covering technology in general and Android in particular since 2011. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

  • evcon

    I had a leaked apk (which I'm sure was out of date) and I could fry an egg on my HTC One when it was just sitting there. Hopefully they've worked out all of that stuff by this point.

    • TornZero

      I have it running on my HTC One, too, and I have no problems whatsoever. Battery drain is negligible, too.

      Think they worked that out. :)

  • Roi Losh

    not available in my country, apk anyone?

    • SlasH3R

      yeah, anyone has the apk pls? :( i wanna tray it

  • Matt

    This is something pure Android is missing. Signed up!

  • Frank Lopez

    when it integrates nicely with kitkat well talk

    • http://www.thepixelpuse.com/ Aj Meadows

      What kind of issues does it have with KitKat? I ask because I was planning on trying it out, but if it's gonna act weird and stuff, then nm.

      • Frank Lopez

        Well it is probably not due to kitkat but it drains my battery FAST!!

        And also no music controls whatsoever so that nice kitkat full screen album cover goes out the window.

        • http://www.thepixelpuse.com/ Aj Meadows

          Hmmm. Interesting, thanks.

        • TornZero

          Battery drain is virtually nonexistent on my One running KitKat. (Think an update might've taken care of that.)

          Although, music controls would be wonderful. So would being able to pin apps. However, it's a beta; we can't expect all the features when they're trying to get the core functionality working perfectly first.

      • Shitiz Garg

        I think he's talking about immersive mode etc, with status bar/nav buttons not being transparent

  • http://www.thepixelpuse.com/ Aj Meadows

    This is something that I feel would work great for tablets. I'm definitely going to toss it onto my N7 and give it a shot.

  • Andrew

    "This item cannot be installed in your device's country."

    I can't stress enough how I abhor this kind of ****.
    This app does not include copyrighted media content or other content that can be country restricted.
    This app does not use handcrafted location based information, like restaurant reviews.
    There is no reason why it shouldn't be available worldwide.

    • Imparus

      Yes there is, since this is a beta test you want to be able to communicate with your tester, which can be difficult if they speak in a languish you don't understand. Most people have the common sense to use English, but not all of them do, so they probably choose country where people speak English or are very likely to do so.

      • Andrew

        They could do this using Google+ Community and Play Store's beta features. So people need explicitly join testing. It's their choose of course. I just hate, how they build all that hype, and then made this application not available for most of the world.

        • Imparus

          That wouldn't fix the languish problem there could be. I'm not saying it is a good reason, but it is a beta, and if you really can't wait for it being ready you can always just side load it.

  • TerrenceT

    So this app only launched beta testing in US? (perhaps Europe?) It just shows "This item isn't available in your country".

    • Nicholas McDonald

      I've been beta testing Cover it in the UK over the past couple of months. Maybe I'm the exception but I don't ever recall reading that beta testing was limited to the US?

  • USMD

    Kinda defeats the purpose of a lock, if thieves have access to your gmail etc, when the phone gets stolen. Sorry I'll pass.

    • Marcus

      There are features to offset this. I.e. the peek feature locks after your preferred amount of time.

    • CoreRooted

      It respects your pin/pattern lock. You loose the "peek" ability, but peeking an app versus security, it's a small price to pay.

  • Alex Lystrup

    I signed up for the early beta on this and have had it installed for a few months now. I reenable it every time there's an update to see if the battery drain issue is fixed and, so far, it hasn't been. The last time I used it for a day, it was responsible for 70% of my HTC One's overall battery drain. I really like the app, but I like being able to use my phone for more than four hours a day even better.

  • Yuval Rozin

    Signed up for the closed beta ages ago and never heard from them, and now this;
    "This app is incompatible with all of your devices."
    I'm on a Nexus 4...

    This app is an awesome idea but man, what a lame way to launch it. Really makes a bad beginning.

    • merman1983

      Same here for Galaxy Nexus. Huzzah for owning a developer phone!

    • Ishraq Zubair

      Its your region it doesn't support not your device. Head over to the link at the end of the article. Join the community and download the APK. They are providing the APKs for those of us who aren't in the supported regions.

  • http://thegumshoe.com/ Michael Crider

    For all the previous beta testers who have experienced battery drain issues: I've tried the Play Store version on my N5 for a few hours, and Cover isn't draining enough to show up in the battery settings screen. Your mileage may vary, of course.

  • Brett Livingston

    Not for the Galaxy Nexus (Toro anyway)...

  • Simon

    Almost 9gag logo

  • Marcus

    Ive been using it for a couple months and it actually works really well on my S4. Bugs here and there, but constantly updating. Def try it when you get a chance. 4/5.

  • Akshay Mehta

    Not available in my country. Can anyone share the apk ??

  • http://thegumshoe.com/ Michael Crider

    Here's the APK, international readers. You didn't get this from me, ya hear? https://www.mediafire.com/?p01riat8qtk2u7p

    • Akshay Mehta

      Thank you sir :)

    • Edward Ho

      Hey Michael, folks in unsupported countries can get the APK directly from us:

      • Akshay Mehta

        Joined the group, waited for 5 mins didn't see any download link

        • Edward Ho

          Akshay, you don't need to wait. As soon as you join the group, there is only one message there which has the download link.

        • CERN

          Scroll down and click desktop

    • SlasH3R

      Thanks!!!! <3 :)

  • Rolf

    I tried it, disabled it and now I don't have a lock screen at all. How can I get back the standard lock screen?
    Edit: had to uninstall, old screen is back.

  • Deeco

    In terms of functionality, it's really good, but looks wise is fugly.

  • Benjamin Rocha

    Anyone knows a lockscreen that has the same style of swipe to unlock without the app shortcuts?

  • motoridersd

    FYI, running Cover breaks Lux Auto Brightness. I e-mailed the developer and they said they are working on a fix.

  • Jean-Philippe Murray

    Okay, it's beta but it's SO buggy. Seriously, I'd had kept in the closed beta for now...

  • someguy

    am I the only one who thinks Google should implement some kinda gesture based app switching like they show in this video in stock android?

  • Antony Guan

    Does anyone have battery problems after downloading this lockscreen? (Galaxy Note 3)

  • bse88

    A 3d cover animation when you open apps would rock.