The lock screen on your Android device is not only something that can look great and show off that high-res display on your phone, but it's also an important navigational screen, which lets you jump straight to the most important features on your phone. While the lock screens on most Android phones are functional enough, we have here a list of the best lock screen apps that will can make unlocking your phone a whole lot more fun and functional.
Are you an iPhone escapee who still feels a bit sentimental towards Apple's slide-to-unlock lockscreen? Fret not, because this fantastic lockscreen app will fill that slider-shaped hole in your life. Using SlideLock, you unlock your Android device by sliding from left to right along the bottom of the screen. You get actionable notifications just like in Lollipop, so you can tap to go to them or swipe to dismiss them. Slide from right to left to go straight to the camera.
This app - formerly known as UnlockYourBrain - turns unlocking your phone into something quite valuable. It uses the 80 or so times you unlock your phone every day to keep your brain ticking using simple maths and vocabulary exercises. Does this mean you can't access your phone if you don't know what 12 x 8 amounts to, or what 'el amigo' translates to? No, thankfully UnlockYourBrain lets you skip questions and access your phone anyway, so no pressure.
Microsoft's new philosophy of going cross-platform and cross-OS with its software has been paying dividends, and Next Lock Screen is another fine example of Microsoft's design acumen complementing the Android ecosystem.
Next Lock Screen looks elegant and simple, but beneath the surface it's cleverly calculating which apps you're most likely to use based on your location (home, work and so on), then presenting you with apps you use most often in these places. You don't need to use this feature of course, in which case Next is still worth using for its neat presentation of notifications, calendars and other key phone functions.
Plenty of lock screen apps go for the simple minimal look, but none do it quite as well ad AcDisplay. Small icons appear for notifications, and you simply hold your finger on one of these icons to see the notification in more detail, after which you swipe down to dismiss it. AcDisplay even uses your device's sensors to detect when it's in your pocket or in use, so the screen switches on and off accordingly.
C Locker Pro is a sizeable lock screen package that has a ton of features and shortcuts to refine your lock screen with. There are over 30 custom shortcuts you can create to make calls, access apps, or read notifications from your preferred social networks. One of our favourite options is being able to double- or triple-tap your screen to turn it off - a feature usually reserved for high-end phones.
Echo displays messages is a sleek, minimally-designed lock screen that gives you a fine level of control over what you see and have instant access to. As you can see in the picture, you can create notification categories, such as 'Work', 'Media' and 'Social', and choose which apps go in them. This means you have access to many more apps directly from the Echo lock screen than you would on a default Android one.
DynamicNotifications is a subtle lock screen app that's easy on the eyes as well as on your phone's battery. By default, it has a plain black background, and notifications only switch your screen on when it's not in your pocket, bag or face down. This app doesn't actually have to be used as a lock screen, but the option exists if you buy the premium version ($1.99). You can customize what what happens to notifications when you swipe them, and also set a "night mode" whereby you won't receive notifications when you're asleep.
With quirky themes like ukulele and a pump-action shotgun, as well as playful unlock methods such as 'Poker pattern', you can see how Locker Master earned its esteemed 'master' status. It has the usual plethora of widget and app shortcuts, and - unusually - displays apps vertically rather than horizontally, which means more of them can fit on the screen. There are plenty of nicely-designed themes too, including one which adapts to the time of day.
This beast of a lock screen package offers quite possibly the largest selection of themes of any lock screen app. It claims. It claims to have over $900 worth of themes (some are free, some not), and offers you a range of ways to unlock your phone and present apps that you want to quickly access. A nice unique touch here is the option to have shortcuts to directly switch things like mobile data and Bluetooth on and off from the lock screen.
Yes, yes, we're kind of cheating here, as Lollipop isn't technically an app - at all. But we like to give credit where it's due, and we think Google really nailed it with Lollipop lock screen. Whatever UI you have over the top of it, the Lollipop lock screen is minimal and functional. Notifications are displayed in cards, and double-tapping one takes you straight to it. Depending on your phone, you also get the obligatory selection of app shortcuts on the bottom. To dismiss a notification, just swipe it left or right into oblivion. Simple and brilliant.
Are there any lock screen apps that we missed out? Let us know, then maybe they'll make it into our next lock-screens list!