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.
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.
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.
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.
You lucky jerks in those limited areas with Google Fiber access have all the fun. Not only do you have relatively inexpensive and lightning-fast home Internet, you get TV service with support from Google. The latest update to the Google Fiber IPTV app for Android adds even more goodies, most notably the ability to pause and play television with the standard lockscreen controls or with an integrated Android Wear app. Make sure and show it off to your peasant friends who live in Cabletown.
Baby Time may not sound like something young bachelors everywhere need to install on their Android Wear devices, but it is. By default, these new watches wake up with the right gesture and are then eager for your touch (or anything else's). This app functions as a basic lockscreen that disables most input until it is turned off.
With Baby Time installed, parents can lift up their kid without worrying about the young'un dismissing messages or ordering rides.
The lockscreen is one of the areas that's getting a pretty heavy makeover in the L release (henceforth just known as L), and, since it's generally the first thing you see when a device is turned on, seemed like a logical starting point.
It's been a busy month in the Android app world, particularly if you want useful tools or visual tweaks. There's one big app that we're not featuring in this roundup: the Google Now Launcher, AKA the Google Experience Launcher. We're omitting it from the main list because it's only compatible with Nexus and GPE devices - even the few standard Android devices that have been upgraded to KitKat can't play with it unmodified.