A Clever, Hyper-Useful Overhaul Of Android’s Lock Screen

A free app for Android reimagines what your phone can do when it’s “locked.”

A Clever, Hyper-Useful Overhaul Of Android’s Lock Screen

There’s nothing worse than the butt dial. Your grandma calls, but when you answer the phone, you hear muffled speech and jostling. There are only two possibilities: She’s either been kidnapped or accidentally called during sex. You’re not sure which you’re rooting for. Then you remember–of course!–it’s just a butt dial. She didn’t lock her phone before tossing it into her purse! Or something.


The phone lock is a small miracle, but one has to wonder, can it do more than merely lock your phone? On the iPhone, it pretty much can’t unless you jailbreak. But on Android, all sorts of developers have built apps questioning this premise. Among the most ambitious is Active Lock Screen. It’s half-quick launcher, half-widget manager. In fact, it’s so ambitious it may defeat the purpose of your lock screen, but we’ll return to that.

No idea why this video is apparently being read by a robot.

At its heart is a ring. You can drag buttons to this ring, like a lock icon (to unlock) or a sound icon (to silence your phone). But when you click this ring, something unexpected happens. A radial menu appears, containing folders for contacts, messages, photos, and shortcuts to other apps. You can launch an app or call . . . grandma . . . with the flick of a thumb.

Keep in mind, you’re still “locked,” whatever that means at this point.

Additionally, you can download plug-ins (essentially widgets) for Active Lock Screen to run. CNN top stories or TED Talks can go here. You swipe left or right to search through the list. You can catch up with all the news and inspiring speeches in the world today.

Again, keep in mind, you’re still “locked.”

Now, I haven’t been able to test the app, as I don’t have an Android phone. But I’m equal parts intrigued and repulsed by the idea. On one hand, how great would it be to have a more informed lock screen, all without having to enter a passcode or fiddle with winter’s frozen thumbs. On the other, you can actually MAKE A CALL from this lock screen. And you can LAUNCH APPS. Doesn’t that completely ruin the point of a lock screen–as in, if a lock screen’s lock isn’t really a lock, is it still a lock screen?


No, it’s not. But as an Android launcher alternative for those who don’t fear the butt dial, Active Lock Screen actually has some decent ideas.

Download it here.

[Hat tip: Android Guys]

[Image: Hands via Shutterstock]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.