Lock Screen

A lot of people have asked us about how the Start screens on our Windows Phone devices look like. Daniel started a Start screen layouts series here, and other Windows Phone Central authors followed him. There’s also this popular thread on the Windows Phone Central forums where everybody is sharing their Windows Phone Start screens, and some of them are also sharing the images they are using so you could replicate their creativity.

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Since I’ve already shared with you my favorite wallpaper for Windows Phone 8.1 and some of my apps on my Start screen, I figured I’d finish the week up with something on my Lock screen. Granted, I’ve been known to change this often, depending on which app adds support for that feature. But today I’m back to an oldy but goody: The blurred Start screen.

As you can see in the above photo, it looks like my Lock screen is an opaque but see-through window to my Start screen. Unfortunately, transparent Lock screens are not back, but you can simulate the effect with a few easy steps.

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There are a variety of ways to customize your Windows Phone handset and make it your own. One of our favorite ways is to select and personalize the Lock screen. In the Windows Phone Store you’ll find hundreds of apps that allow you to rotate images on the Lock screen or display app data. Wallpaper Patterns is another one of those apps that can make your Lock screen beautiful. Let’s check it out.

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It was just a few days ago that the official Instagram (beta) app for Windows Phone received another update. At first this looked to be a small, quick big update since there was no changelog accompanied with the update. And the app was updated a few days prior to that with performance improvements and UX refinements. Turns out there was a hidden new feature in the latest update, let’s check it out.

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If you're looking for a way to snaz up your Windows Phone lock screen, take a look at the Windows Phone 8 app Lock Manager. It is a feature rich option to add everything from the weather to appointments to a slide show of your images to your lock screen.

Lock Manager includes four weather themes, Bing daily image support, and live tile support that reflects the information posted to your lock screen. The app definitely has the ability to throw a lot of information up on your Windows Phone lock screen.

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It's time for another update to our official Windows Phone app, and this one brings functionality many of you have requested: lock screen wallpapers. If you're a die-hard fan of the site and just can't get enough Windows Phone news, or even want to bring the news front and center for a week or so, you can enable our app as your wallpaper provider to get the latest headlines on your lock screen. Our wallpaper colours can also be customised with the full range of Windows Phone accents, and you'll even get article images appearing when you're using our flip tile. Find and enable all of these options from the app's settings screen.

That's not the only new feature thought, we've also finally included support for playing videos through Metrotube, switched to the Nokia advertising exchange (for free users only of course) and updated Unification support with in-line images. See below for the full changelist as well as a few samples of what you can do when customising our lock screen.

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Nokia ran a poll on its blog last week, asking consumers which of the different lock screen features they valued most. Whether it's the notifications, the background images or locking the Windows Phone with a passcode, visitors had the selection of three to choose from. The team has now published the results, which aren't entirely surprising.

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Here’s a sneaky (and welcomed) little change that a few of you have tipped us on. It seems yesterday’s AT&T Lumia 920 firmware update, which will be going to other Lumias in the near future, is also sporting a few changes for the display time-out (found under Settings > Lock Screen).

Currently, some users on a few Windows Phone have only four options: 30 seconds, 1 minute, 3 minutes and 5 minutes. The choice determines how long your device will sit idle before the screen powers off (we opt for 3 minutes ourselves mostly due to photo and video shoots). Now, with the 1308 firmware for AT&T new timings have been added including 15 minutes, 30 minutes and Never.

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The HTC 8S finally allows Wi-Fi to stay on with the display off, making it the first Windows Phone device to offer this much vaunted feature.

We've noticed something pretty awesome on our HTC 8S (review coming shortly, folks), something that many have been calling out for from Microsoft since Windows Phone launched back in 2010. In the Windows Phone 8 build that's loaded on the HTC 8S, we can enable the setting to allow the WiFi connection to remain active when the screen times out.  Huzzah!

The rumor that the HTC 8S would bring this functionality was first reported back on November 22nd and it is now 100% confirmed.

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If there's one area where have heard a lot of complaints on it's the WiFi function on Windows Phone.

The problem is a bit niche but it has frustrated quite a few of you ever since 2010. That "problem" is when the phone goes to the Lock screen, WiFi automatically disconnects. Obviously Microsoft had good intentions in mind here with power-saving as the chief concern. But recently, evidence and personal anecdotes seem to betray the idea that turning off WiFi (when not in use) saves battery.

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We know that Microsoft is listening to users, as feature after feature consumers want eventually do show up in the OS. We think we have found another one focused on the Music player controls.

The complaint: once you start playing a tune in Windows Phone, the Player controls permanently stay on the Lock screen, even if the music is not playing any more.

Yes, some of you may be thinking ‘who cares?’ but we can assure you, many people find it annoying. In fact, there are third party apps in the Windows Phone Store to address this very issue with the most prominent being ‘Stop the Music!’. And we agree, there should be something more elegant than the current method.

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To the left, Twitter and to the right, reportedly Facebook notifications

Looks like Nokia’s New York City announcement is the gift that keeps on giving. Such is the case from the newly observed Twitter and Facebook notifications on the Lock screen during the introduction of the wireless charging part of the presentation. (Although Twitter is clear as day for us, we're still  not sure about the Facebook one--it's quite hard to tell.)

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Pinnable CC's and new notifications

Many of the new features of Windows Phone 8 are already known due to the leaked SDK over the summer but exactly how some of it will look is still a bit unclear.

Take for example the NFC Wallet app. It’s a safe assumption that it will allow many different options—storage of coupons, deal cards, frequent flier pass and of course your credit cards. It’s also not too wild of a guess that Microsoft will allow you to pin those to your Start screen for quick and easy access.

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While Windows 8 is still slated for an October 26, 2012 release we are discovering that the desktop wallpapers make for some really nice Windows Phone lock screen wallpapers.

Our friends over at 1800PocketPC have converted the Windows 8 collection of Start Screen wallpapers into Windows Phone lock screen wallpapers. The Windows 8 collection includes 69 of these colorful wallpapers and so far, 23 have been converted to 480x800 images.

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We’ve hinted at this before and the leak of the Windows Phone 8 SDK is validating our claim that “Apollo” will allow richer notification support for 3rd party developers.

Developers will now be able to have their app send notifications to the Lock Screen with the content reflecting the app’s Live Tile:

“In Windows Phone, the lock screen contained a handful of notifications such as the number of new Outlook emails and text messages. In Windows Phone 8 Developer Preview, end users can choose to customize this area with any third party apps they choose. As a developer, you can enable your app to be used in this feature. “

An app can provide content for the following four items on the lock screen:

  • The background image. This image is unrelated to lock screen notifications, and is documented at Lock screen background for Windows Phone.
  • An app icon
  • An app count
  • App text
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[+] Lock Screen is a stellar app and a must-have

Looks like it’s a good week in the Windows Phone Marketplace for deals as we just got tipped that Snack Studios have made their pay-apps free for an undisclosed time.

The developers have numerous apps in the Marketplace and in our opinion, all are top notch with an elegant design and useful functionality.  Those are apps are the following:

  • [+] Lock Screen – This app comes with a surprising array of gorgeous wallpapers for your Start screen but you can also add a physical calendar and other graphics on top before you save. A must-have app, trust us.
  • [+] Lomo Cam – A standard camera app that has pre-set filters including Lomo, Black and White and others giving your photos a unique look. Also very well done.
  • [+] Note Plus – A unique note taking app with elegant backgrounds, this app uses AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) and has SkyDrive backup. Huzzah!
  • [+] Moments – This app merges photos with notes to allow you to save your memories
  • [+] Emoji – A helper app that allows you to easily insert emoji into text messages

All of those apps are normally $0.99 but dropped to free on July 7th. There are ‘lite’ versions for some of these apps but you can evidently have the full ones for zero—so hop to it as these are some seriously nice programs.

Hit the links above which take you to the Marketplace or just search for ‘Snack Studio’ to find all of their apps. Thanks, Nettwerk, for the tip! 

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Can we expect changes in the Windows Phone 8 Lock screen? 

Back at the Summit a few weeks ago, Microsoft was very clear that they were not showing all of Windows Phone 8, in fact we were only getting a peek. The reason for that is multifaceted but their official position is they don’t want to show consumer features to consumers when we’re still months from release. Then there’s the whole idea of trying to prevent an Osborne effect i.e. hurting current sales by enticing customers to wait for new phones this fall.

One tiny area of interest was an observation today from a reader (erichon99) in the new Start screen video by Microsoft. At about the 2:15 mark (snapshot below) you can see some icons on the Lock screen: 1 Missed Call/Voicemail, 4 text messages and presumably 13 new Hotmail/Live mail messages.

What caught our reader’s attention was the new Hotmail/Live mail icon which ironically is the old Windows flag logo (yet the new logo is clearly used for the capacitive button). To be honest, we think this is just a mockup oversight and we have no idea if Hotmail/Live mail would use the old logo though we’re leaning towards ‘no’ on that one--in other words, nothing to see here. However...

In Microsoft's video there's an apparent oversight in logo-matching 

...this brings back to the beginning—what are those new features in Windows Phone 8? We don’t want to ruin Microsoft’s surprise but we can tell you that looking at the Lock screen for notification changes is a good start.

One area many have complained about in Windows Phone 7 is the lack of a “notification-center”. More accurately if a notification comes in for a 3rd party app and you miss it, well, you missed it. Sure you can use the app's Live Tile but that assumes (a) You've pinned it to your Start screen and (b) You've scrolled down to check it at some point. But can the OS be even more "glance and go"? The answer is 'yes'.

We’re not sure if Microsoft will have an actual notification-center on board (ala Android's "drawer") but we do know they solved this problem another way in Windows Phone 8—by giving developer access to the Lock screen with the added ability to have custom notifications. There are actually four options for developers to choose from with one of them being extremely creative as it will give you a fresh look to your Lock screen numerous times a day. We won’t say much more on the matter for fear of raising Microsoft’s ire but hopefully this tease will get you excited for what’s coming in Windows Phone 8.  

Microsoft is once again not copying the competition, they're doing it their way and in a few weeks, you can judge for yourself.

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Since Windows Phone users can't spend a lot of time customizing their OS (instead we live our lives), there's much focus on the lock-screen. We know we change ours every few days (we use Ffffound for inspiration).

Today, Microsoft has announced a partnership with London based graphic designer Levi Freeman and as a result, they've released eight "officially sanctioned" wallpapers to spiffy up your Windows Phone.

The eight images are nature focused so they may not appeal to everyone (we're more into abstract art here). Still, the designs are nice and they're meant to look perfect on your phone. What's more, the images all have a corresponding QR code for easy download (see, not even Microsoft uses Tag). Plus Microsoft notes that they hope more of these collaborations will happen with Levi, meaning we can probably expect different themes in the future--we like that idea. Levi also plans to release desktop versions too.

There's some interesting tidbits about the inspiration for each image and details about Freeman at his site, so hop on over to grab those images and learn a little bit about their origins.

Source: Windows Phone Blog, Levi Freeman's blog

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Windows Phone Hacker has released Lock Widgets for the homebrew community, just in time with the recent release of Root Tools 0.9. Lock Widgets enables users, who have access to a rooted Windows Phone, to use small tiles on their lock screens to act as glance widgets. Information which can be displayed include Twitter feeds, RSS feeds and weather reports, to name but a few.

Feature highlights of Lock Widgets:

  • Weather widget
  • RSS widget
  • Twitter @user widget
  • Memory widget
  • Puts widgets on your lockscreen. Pretty simple.
  • Daily Bing wallpaper
  • Custom background

You can download Lock Widgets from Windows Phone Hacker's website, note that you'll need an unlocked and rooted handset to use this software. 

Source: Windows Phone Hacker

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