We need a better smartphone lockscreen experience

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
We need a better smartphone lockscreen experience
Is there a way to change the lockscreen on our smartphones that would make it much more useful?

These days, the cliche goes that smartphones are these mature devices and it almost seems like there is no way to change the core foundation of the smartphone experience: the lockscreen, the notifications, and so on.

But I have been using a few smartwatches that got me thinking: is my smartphone lockscreen really as perfect and as informative as I would want it to be? Obviously, the answer to that question is a 'no' and here is why.


On the Apple Watch Series 4 that I reviewed last year, one thing impressed me most and that was the sheer information density that was packed on such a tiny screen. The new Infograph watchface packs up to 9 different complications in a size a fraction that of a smartphone. Just one glance at the watch and you can instantly see the current weather, as well as the highs and lows for the day; you can see how many steps you have taken, you can see your next appointment, you can see how much time left you have on that timer, you can see the time in a different city, you can be informed about the UV level, you can see when the sun sets, and the list goes on and on. And while the Apple Watch was the first smartwatch to provide such information density at a single glance, devices like the new Samsung Galaxy Watch Active have since copied that approach and provide an equally rich experience.


There is one unfortunate moment in this whole story: I personally stubbornly refuse to wear a smartwatch. As much as I enjoy the workout stats and everything else, I think it's overwhelming, I don't really want to bother charging it every night, and I don't think the price is justified considering that in just two or three years the battery will deteriorate, the experience will slow down and I will have to throw it away just like most electronic gadgets.

For people like me, it is evident that we could get a similarly great one-glance experience on our smartphone lockscreens, but no phone maker is doing this. I am not talking custom launchers for the lockscreen, but rather a curated experience that delivers the essential bits of info right to the lockscreen.


Why can't I see the weather information on my lockscreen?

Why can't I see my next appointment?

Why can't I see how many steps I have taken today on my lockscreen?

Heck, why can't I even see the time in analog format?

A quick shortcut to breathing sessions? Uhh-uh!


I am not advocating that everyone has all of this information on their lockscreen (it probably would be too much), but I for once would REALLY appreciate having a quick glance at the weather right on my lockscreen and not having to open the damn weather app every single time and then forget why I unlocked my phone, decide to open Facebook or YouTube and lose half an hour in these rabbit hole of applications. And yes, that's exactly what happens so often when I just unlock my phone to check the weather.

So... why is nobody doing a better lockscreen?

The answer is probably inertia. And of course, it's also hard to get it right. But I am sure it's possible.

After all, if a tiny smartwatch delivers more information to me at a single glance than my 6.5-inch smartphone, then there is definitely something broken in the system.

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30 Comments

1. User123456789

Posts: 846; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Because you can unlock within 0.1s and see it all. Simple!!!

29. sgodsell

Posts: 7242; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

"We need a better smartphone lockscreen experience" Clearly Victor is talking about iPhones only, because Android smartphones allow users to change their lock screens. Even if you use the standard lock screens on most Android smartphones, they show the weather and other pieces of information that isn't available to iPhone users. Even smartphones like LG's new G8 using Face unlock do better than the iPhones. Especially when the G8 automatically goes from unlock to the home screen without a stupid swipe that is required from iPhone users. Apple is dumb for doing that.

2. Mike88

Posts: 338; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

iPhone’s glance feature with Face ID which shows sensitive content on lock screen only when you are looking at your phone makes iPhones the phone with the best lock screen...

30. sgodsell

Posts: 7242; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Hardly. Apple has the worst lock screen capabilities, especially when you compare them to Android smartphones. Clearly your ignorant, and have never seen what lock screens can do on Android. You have options to customize the lock screens on Android smartphones. You can even control the information, even sensitive information. You even have options to go directly to the home screen when your smartphone is unlocked. Something that Apple doesn't give you. iPhone users have to use a gesture in order to go to their home screen (list of plain Jane icons).

3. TBomb

Posts: 1414; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

I'm confused, I have the weather, time, and calendar events on my lockscreen? I think I missed something

4. Victor.H

Posts: 1056; Member since: May 27, 2011

Some phones like the Google Pixel offer the current temperature, but again a since glance at say the Apple Watch and you see current conditions AND highs and lows for the day. Much more informative!

13. TBomb

Posts: 1414; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

Thanks for the clarification. I don't know if we deserve more informative lockscreens. No one likes clutter and people from all camps claim that one phone does "clean" better than others (Android's cluttery widgets, iOS cluttery homescreen, ['OEM' horribly designed app icons], etc.). On a different note: I know you mentioned that you weren't talking about launchers, but a lockscreen launcher can offer this experience. Get the settings in your launcher right so the entire phone's UI matches your lockscreen and It'll look fairly natural.

5. illiad

Posts: 132; Member since: Feb 07, 2012

the main point is, do you want a longer battery life, or a lock-screen that has ALL of the features of your phone??? why bother witha lock screen??

18. luke22

Posts: 31; Member since: Mar 07, 2019

Yeah. Ones can choose whether they want a useful lock-screen or they want to keep their phone's battery a bit longer. Simple as that.

6. Valdomero

Posts: 666; Member since: Nov 13, 2012

On iOS 12 you can simply swipe left and have all that info you are asking and more. BTW, I get your point on having all that info at a single glance, but I think some people may want to see their lockscreen's background image. That's still no excuse for some OEMs, they could just simply add a toggle or a customization setting for the lockscreen.

7. xperian

Posts: 418; Member since: Apr 10, 2014

No, we do not. Lock screen should be what it is - lockscreen, keep the phone safe and precent accidental touches, not a second homescreen.

8. darkkjedii

Posts: 30974; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

100% agreed.

9. Vancetastic

Posts: 1131; Member since: May 17, 2017

At least give us the option. Those who don’t want information on the lock screen can simply...not have it! Simple, eh?

10. darkkjedii

Posts: 30974; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Well said. Choice is always welcomed.

12. Vancetastic

Posts: 1131; Member since: May 17, 2017

Some of the hardcore Apple fanboys don’t like that word...”choice”...

15. blingblingthing

Posts: 948; Member since: Oct 23, 2012

You sir need 500 up-votes.

21. darkkjedii

Posts: 30974; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

It’s like, if you don’t want to use the feature(s), then don’t, but why not have it included.

24. Vancetastic

Posts: 1131; Member since: May 17, 2017

Exactly!

20. darkkjedii

Posts: 30974; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I see that around here, and never understood that thinking.

23. Vancetastic

Posts: 1131; Member since: May 17, 2017

I’ve never understood the weird allegiance to a company (any company) that is in the business of getting your money.

25. darkkjedii

Posts: 30974; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Another thing I don’t get. I’m buying what I like, doesn’t matter who makes it. Tech is like music to me, I like it I buy it.

11. pogba

Posts: 105; Member since: Jun 13, 2018

Talk about an optional app drawer on ois

22. darkkjedii

Posts: 30974; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Sorely needed. I’d love to have better app arrangement in iOS. The current setup sucks, and is super stale.

14. Vega007

Posts: 75; Member since: May 18, 2017

I agree with this. Having an iPhone, which means no AOD, I poke at my screen a lot to see notifications, and what I always get is the time, battery percentage, and the date. Why no weather or appointments? Why no options of a different clock style? Oh wait, this is Apple we are talking about...NO SOUP FOR YOU!

16. PSAfromThisGuy

Posts: 145; Member since: Jan 16, 2017

sounds like the author needs an android if he wants more from his phone...

17. Vokilam

Posts: 1181; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

Dude, you can set up whatever you want including some third party to the lock screen on iOS 12. It’s all just a swipe to the left. Plus the beauty with Face ID is that the information is private until you look at it. If you set it up correctly - they only time you’ll ever need to actually unlock is to launch an app. Otherwise with Face ID you can enjoy customized information at a glance.

28. worldpeace

Posts: 3129; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Apple : "Just get an Apple Watch"

31. samystic

Posts: 242; Member since: Mar 25, 2012

If Google could offer big clock on the default pattern lock screen as well, that would be great. Any suggestions?

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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