8.20.2010

Unlock your Lock Screen - A Review of Widget Locker for Android

lock screenImage by laihiu via Flickr
One of the biggest reasons I left the iPhone for the Droid X was for the option to customize my phone. I’m not just talking about changing my background (only recently allowed on iPhone 4) or wallpaper. I wanted to ability to change launchers (I suggest Launcher Pro or ADW Launcher), add widgets (here’s a few Sports recommendations), and alter the lock screen. I’ve found that there are times when I just don’t want to slide to open, and Widget Locker helped me find a solution to my problem.

Why Widget Locker?
The $1.99 app from TeslaCoil gives the user the ability to customize one’s lock screen. First off, I wanted to have shortcuts available on my lock screen. For example, on a recent trip, I wanted to ability to quickly go into plane mode, so I placed a shortcut on the lock screen. I could then reposition shortcuts on the screen while in “tool mode”, though there’s an option to keep everything movable in “lock mode."  I have a set of power/settings options sliders on my screen, though any application shortcut can be placed there.

Now slide, baby, slide.
Another cool feature is the ability to create custom sliders, including ones that appear/act differently, such as the prior Android slider and the iPhone slider. I created an email slider that I placed at the top of my screen that slides one way for my Gmail and another way for my work email. On the bottom, I have the built-in unlock (slide right) and ringer (slide left) that also comes with a vibrate setting (second slide left), a feature that I absolutely adore. As an aside, did it take anyone else coming from the iPhone such as myself a few days to even know that you could slide left? Droid does the little things…

Speaking of little things…
I think that Widget Locker would have earned its keep with the above alone.  However, the settings menu is full of other surprises that I’ve grown to love and appreciate. I can set the home button to wake the phone and then open the lock screen. I have access to the volume up and down, can open search, and access menu options all from the lock screen. There’s even more options (easy wake, hide notification bar, sound on unlock), so customize to your heart’s content.

Why not?
One might wonder why even have a lock screen if you want all the functionality of the home screen anyways. This is a valid question, but I would argue that the lock screen can still function and prevent accidental calling and other inadvertent touches. Widget Locker can then add some basic (and for some, essential) functionality to the lock screen. The developer notes in the detailed tutorial how battery drain is minimized, but as always with Droid applications, you’ll need to find the right balance of power and functionality for your taste.


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2 comments:

Stephanie said...

I can't figure out how to remove custom sliders once I put them on the screen (or change their buttons). Do you know how or any where to go for help?

Thanks,
Stephanie

David Chan said...

Hi Stephanie,
To remove a slider, go to Widget Locker settings (open through the app drawer) and click/hold, drag and drop your custom slider into the trash. To change their buttons, though, I have not been able to figure out, so I just delete and re-create the slider. Here's TeslaCoil's website for more info: http://teslacoilsw.com/widgetlocker

Best,
David

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