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.
If you're a regular user of the iHeartRadio service, there's a big update waiting for you in the Play Store. The most useful addition in the new version of the Android app is undoubtedly the expanded control options: you can now pause, play, or advance your streaming music on the lockscreen or the new notification. The notification is even expandable - are you watching this, Pandora?
The user interface gets a fancy new slide-out menu, accessible from the main player and home screens.
The Android lockscreen has been slowly evolving over the years, and it's got a respectable feature set these days. But sometimes rethinking a feature can provide a better overall experience. Cover is a new beta lockscreen alternative that tries to learn where you are and what you're most likely to need access to, then put it right there on the lockscreen. It's a compelling approach, but how is it?
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.
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.
It took us a little longer than usual this time, but we're finally back with a short selection of last month's best new apps. It wasn't easy to narrow them down, but those readers who don't have time, spare cash, or patience enough for our longer semi-weekly roundups can't go wrong with the five apps we've chosen. If, by some chance, none of the apps below suit your fancy, we've got plenty of runners up too.
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.
You'd think the concept of a lockscreen would be simple. It, you know, locks the phone. Several OEMs have still ended up with bugs that allow users to get around the lockscreen completely. The newest such vulnerability has been discovered in Sony's flagship, the Xperia Z. Just a few simple steps, and anyone can gain full access to the device.
In the video, you can see one Scott Reed demonstrating the problem.
Looking to spruce your lockscreen up a bit? The MIUI Team is bringing a new flavor to the lockscreen arena, simply called MiLocker.
MiLocker looks to compete with offerings such as WidgetLocker and GO Locker as your lockscreen replacement, and after spending just a few minutes with it, I can say that it's quite nice - enough so that it will most likely become my primary lockscreen replacement (at least for a while).