Version 4.9 of the Google app began rolling out late yesterday, but it's not sporting a lot of obvious additions. The only immediately visible changes appear under Settings -> Now cards, where a new toggle has been added to enable or disable lock screen notifications based on cards. Some updated text also appears below the new toggle, if you care about that sort of thing.
Left: old version. Right: new version. Read More
There's a minor change to the way Android M implements the lock screen. Instead of the camera and phone shortcuts, you have camera and voice search. Voice Search is accessed by swiping from the lower left corner where you now have a mic icon.
To address several relatively minor problems and requests, Sony's Xperia Z2 and Z3 devices will be getting an update to their firmware. They will remain on 5.0 Lollipop, which speaks to the fact that these are mostly optimizations rather than wholesale changes. The headlining feature is probably the fact that the app switcher now has a close all button, but there are some other goodies as well.
Another feature change is making the LED light independent of the sound settings. Read More
Dedicated Google users may not be aware that the Bing homepage consists predominantly of a giant background image, sometimes animated, that changes by the day. In perhaps a fit of creativity, Microsoft has decided to release a lockscreen replacement app by the name of Picturesque that takes this background and makes it your phone's lock screen. Read More
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Any decent bank heist movie always has one common hurdle for the would-be thieves: a regularly changing access code to the vault, and only one person knows what it is. Read More
The Battery Guru app from Qualcomm promises to learn how you use your phone and make small tweaks to improve battery life. Glance, a new app from Qualcomm, uses that same usage data to build an intelligent lock screen. Battery Guru is required, so that means this is a Snapdragon-only experience.
Glance integrates a lot of supposedly intelligent features that tailor themselves to your usage. It lists upcoming appointments, apps you might want to use, frequent contacts, and the weather (because everything has to show the weather). Read More
When it comes to beautifying your phone, most of the options involve complicated modding procedures, installing sketchy software, or spending entirely too much time shuffling through configuration screens. Sometimes, all we need is a low maintenance option that does the hard work for us. To that end, Sparky Lock Screen is determined to deliver an ultra-fast, incredibly simple lock screen replacement that looks great without making you work for it.
Simplicity is obviously the driving force behind Sparky. Read More
If you have a device running Android 4.2, there is literally no reason to avoid checking out DashClock Widget. This app comes from Googler Roman Nurik and it completely transforms your lock screen. Despite already being excellent, DashClock just got an update with more features.
Whether due to neglect or a topsy-turvy set of priorities, Android developers sometimes leave out basic features like lock screen or notification (I'm looking at you, Spotify) controls. Well, Pandora is fixing at least some of its problems with an update that brings the ability to pause or skip tracks from the lock screen. Unfortunately, notification controls still aren't available but, hey. One step at a time.
Here's the full change log:
What's in this version:
- Lock screen controls for devices running Ice Cream Sandwich and later
- Added elapsed and remaining timestamps to the track progress indicator
- Reduced startup time
- Bug fixes and enhancements
Aside from the lock screen controls, it's not a huge update, but it's always encouraging to see a prominent developer truly take advantage of what Android can do. Read More