Windows Phone 8.1's awaited interactive lock screens are here, but they're rough
When Microsoft's Joe Belfiore officially revealed Windows Phone 8.1 onstage at Build all the way back in April, the very first thing he talked about was the operating system's newfangled ability to support interactive live lock screens. Fast forward four months: As Windows Phone 8.1 starts rolling out to users, Microsoft has released the very first live lock screen app in the Windows Phone Store, albeit in beta form.
And boy, does it earn that beta tag. I've been using the Live Lock Screen beta on a Lumia 920 since the app was released on Friday and it's been prone to lag, while others have reported it crashing completely and repeatedly. It's clear Microsoft still has some kinks to work out.
The app itself is fairly basic: It only has six themes, and the "interactivity" consists solely of the text sliding off the edges of the display as you drag the lock screen upward—the images themselves are static, and there aren't any genuinely useful features such as enhanced lock screen notifications. The ability to use Bing's beautiful, changed-daily images as your lock screen background is a nice touch, though, as is the custom wallpaper support.
Once Microsoft zaps the niggling performance issues, Live Lock Screen will be a decent enough (if entirely superfluous as-is) app. But what I'm really looking forward to is what comes next: Microsoft plans to eventually open up the interactive lock screen APIs to all Windows Phone developers, and that's when the truly interesting interactivity should start shining. It's weird that such a simple-seeming feature set is taking so long to coalesce, though. The first major update to Windows Phone 8.1 is already right around the corner.