Ransomware is one of the nastier types of malicious software to emerge in the last few years. It's not exclusive to mobile, but the basic gist is that it locks down either specific files or an entire machine until the user sends money to a shady, untraceable online account to get their digital life back in order. The combination of easily-exploited security vulnerabilities, relatively small payments spread out over thousands of devices, and users reliance on their phones or computers has proven incredibly lucrative for malware developers.
Device security is a pretty personal thing, and we all likely have a given level of security we're comfortable with before impracticality starts to get in the way. While a secure lock screen is highly advisable, some of us still don't even do that (which is slightly scary) because it can be an annoying barrier to using your phone.
Google knows this, and features like Smart Lock have attempted to combat lockscreen non-usage by linking device security to connected devices, your face, your location, your voice, or even whether your phone thinks it's actually on your person. The idea being that if you're too lazy or encumbered by a traditional lockscreen (or don't have a fingerprint scanner), your phone can have a variety of "safe" scenarios in which it's probably OK for your device to be unlocked, only locking when those conditions aren't met.
Wish, a shopping platform with over 100 million users, feels like a cross between Pinterest and Amazon. The site's Android app provides an experience where you don't just browse products, you view how people look wearing and using those products. It's like a catalog tailored to you.
Google has been rolling out updates to Smart Lock over the past months, adding On-body detection and Trusted voice, and while this recent change doesn't bring other options to the table, it does make the feature more user-friendly.
Previously, if you had set your Android phone or tablet to trust a certain place, Bluetooth device, or any of your physical attributes, it would keep your phone unlocked when those variables were in effect, but you'd still come across a secure lock screen if you left your handset untouched for a period of time. We didn't have any explanation as to the duration of the lock trigger, but that's changing now.
Most of the user interface additions to Android 5.0 and higher are welcome, but one of the more notable losses is the ability to embed widgets on the lockscreen. The new placement of notifications in that space has left no room for widgets. That's not a huge problem, but it does require some adjustment if you're used to getting at that information in a very specific way. Developer Udell Enterprises hopes to fix that with an app called, appropriately, Notifidgets.
Notifidgets creates a semi-permanent notification that contains the widget or widgets of your choice. This allows you to access said widget without unlocking your device.
In case you haven't noticed, we love tiny details that make our everyday lives as Android users better. (And really, in case you didn't notice that, I'll show you the door — it's that X button next to the tab title up there in your browser.) Our friendly Android 5.1 tipster Ramit Suri loves them too, so much in fact that he noticed a teeny tiny detail on the lockscreen.
In Android 5.0, if you open the Quick Settings panel (henceforth referred to as QS) from the lockscreen, you would have to swipe the QS closed, then swipe again to unlock.
Next Lock Screen is certainly one of the most usable projects to come out of Microsoft Garage. It's a contextual lock screen made with busy professionals in mind, that not only displays notifications, calendar events, and incoming calls and messages, but also tries to guess which apps you might need based on whether you're at work, home, or moving around. A music player with controls is included as well, along with weather updates, and a quick option to start a conference call.
One would think that an app geared toward the business crowd should have some privacy elements to prevent unwanted access to the information, calling, or better yet the entire phone, but the first version of Next was completely unsecured as Michael pointed out when he covered the app's release.
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.
Google's developers took a couple of weeks off for the holidays – or from my perspective, they gave me a couple of weeks to rest – but now they're back and it's time for the app updates to resume. Naturally, it's time to breathe life back into the teardowns, and we're back with a big one. Google Search v4.1 began rolling out to users yesterday, and we've already seen quite a few little adjustments and improvements. After plenty of digging, a stack of additional changes have surfaced, including one that is already live, and several more just waiting for some finishing touches.
Now that you can put widgets on your lockscreen, there's a whole host of things you can do even before unlocking your phone. and if that's not enough, there are afewalternativelockscreens that will let you do even more. Today we're getting another one from a slightly surprising source: Microsoft. Say hello to the Next Lock Screen, an app from the company's Microsoft Garage internal team.
I say it's only slightly surprising because Microsoft has been releasing a staggering amount of Android apps of late. But I digress: Next Lock Screen attempts to combine an agenda view sourced from your phone's calendar with a quick launcher system, accessible with a swipe up from the bottom of the screen.